Get Your Messages In Shape for 2012!

Get Your Messages In Shape for 2012!

3708108696 b76b7b362e b - Get Your Messages In Shape for 2012!

Giving is expected to be flat to negative in 2012.

There, we said it.

Photo: RecycledStarDust

Now, where do we go from here? It is more important than ever to focus on your brand and communications. The good news? Reshaping your communications, for the most part, is free. Sure it takes time, but the ideas we have below are very low cost to implement.

Nonprofits need to be distinctly different than their counterparts. What sets your organization apart? How do you tell your story to compel funders and supporters to give to your cause?

Here is a quick communications boot camp to get your brand back in shape:

  1. Find your niche. Every organization has their place that is why you are being funded in the first place. Do a deep-dive to remind yourself what makes your nonprofit unique. Don’t be afraid to recruit outsiders—sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to see the obvious. These outsiders can be professionals, like us, or even your newest board member and volunteers.
  2. Simplify and refresh your message. Can you communicate your nonprofit’s mission in a sentence or two? How about a story that reinforces your organization’s reason for being? Find a new way of saying your mission. Those elevator speeches were getting tired and old anyway.
  3. Is your passion showing? Your nonprofit is a treasure trove of touching stories about your cause. Take your team members out to lunch and find out why they come to work every day. Ask board members why they lead your organization. Get a video of volunteers talking about why they give up their Saturdays for your cause. These stories are passionate endorsements waiting to be shared. Be passionate out loud.
  4. Test your assumptions. Gather your best supporters together in person (or online) and have them give you an honest evaluation of your materials and messages. We are all too close to our brands to be objective about it, getting a fresh set of eyes is critical and will make your brand stronger. Promise!
  5. Try something new. Now that you’ve got a new set of messages, take them for a walk in a new place. Remember that great rewards often come with great risks. Try to learn at least one new communications tool a quarter. Evaluate it to see if it is beneficial to your organization, then keep the goodies and pass on the duds. Learning is growing. (FYI – In the coming weeks we’ll be doing weekly evaluations of new social media networks to add to your quiver of tools.)

What are your thoughts about giving and branding in 2012? What steps is your organization taking to buck the flat lining philanthropy prediction? Let us know in the comments.

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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, Dawn will help your team uncover ways to make your team’s feedback process more efficient. 

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An award-winning expert on nonprofit communications and creativity, Dawn is ready to speak at your next gathering. 

Kate Runy


A passionate technical wizard, Kate thrives on managing online content, social media for communications, and development projects.  Kate is the workhorse of the team, pulling out amazing feats of content creation and management week in and week out. 

Prior to joining BC/DC Ideas, Kate coordinated website and social media content, communications, and advertising for Go Global NC and Alzheimer’s NC.

Things that make her happy: I love animals about as much as I love working for nonprofits.

Mishel Gomez Cespedes


Mishel brings a passion for video storytelling and quippy social media content to the team.  At BC/DC Ideas, she is most likely editing video or scheduling the next moving social media post for our clients.

Her ear for storytelling is her greatest asset. Mishel has a unique ability to assemble content into a concise story that moves audiences to action.

A graduate of Wake Forest University she spent a semester in Spain and years serving her community through the campus organizations. Now, she is putting her passion for good to work.

Brian Crawford

creative director

Mix equal parts nerd and creativity and that’s Brian. A natural problem-solver, Brian’s ability to cut to the core of any problem helps guide our creative team to the correct solution without wasted time or money. It’s the core, this little nugget of truth, that helps our clients take the next step with their audiences.

Brian gets the greatest joy out of helping our clients realize and connect with their story. He is a true believer that everyone and every organization has a compelling story to tell, you just have to listen with an open heart.

Things that make him happy: Hanging out at the park with family, toddler-speak, hitting the focus pull, and good coffee.

Dawn Crawford


The engine behind BC/DC Ideas, Dawn has dedicated her career to good. Dawn brings her considerable experience and expertise to helping elevate the nonprofit sector. Our team’s lead strategist, Dawn is often seen leading our IdeaStorms, penning communications plans, or checking in with clients.

Before launching BC/DC Ideas in 2010, she earned her chops in 10+ years of communications leadership roles for public health, healthcare and youth-focused nonprofits. Working for nonprofits is Dawn’s dream job, and she loves that her 40+ hours a week make the world a better place.

Things that make her happy: A glass of champagne to celebrate big wins, Basecamp, living in the South, seeing the world, and a well-formatted spreadsheet.