Your Guide: Conquering the Development Mountain as a Nonprofit

Your Guide: Conquering the Development Mountain as a Nonprofit

A note from Shellie: As we all continue to feel the wide-ranging effects of the COVID-19 health crisis, I’m sure your organization is feeling the stress and perhaps even frustration of being unable to run your services and programs as usual. I know many of the Rescue Missions we work with at Brewer Direct have had to shut down volunteer programs, cancel events, and close Thrift Stores indefinitely. I acknowledge that it’s a tremendously difficult moment for nonprofits – and with that in mind, I encourage you to internalize these tips on key messaging in your community.

For nearly 18 years, I lived in beautiful Colorado Springs. There is a very challenging hike in the area called the Manitou Incline… also known as “the Holy Grail of Cardio.”

The incline is famous for its beautiful views and steep grade. With an average grade of 45% and as steep as 68% in places, it is a real fitness challenge. The incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile – 2,744 steps! – so you have reason to feel proud when you reach the top!

Recently, I realized that the field of development is like climbing the incline… to reaching for the top… to becoming a conqueror. To become a conqueror in development, you must be a champion with your donors and in your community.

So how do you position yourselves as champions in your communities?

You must be committed to rise above the status quo!

  • What makes your ministry different?
  • How do you stand out in the crowd of hundreds of nonprofits in your area

Maintaining a trustworthy reputation in your community is key to your success in building relationships and raising funds. You must be consistent, and you must be credible.

One way you can achieve this is to develop 3 key messages that every employee and your marketing agency uses when communicating about your organization.

Key messages allow you to provide concise, clear and consistent information about your ministry, whether you have 10 minutes to talk to another parent as you sit in the bleachers watching your kids play soccer or you’ve been asked to speak for 1 hour at a local church.

Key messages meet 3 valuable needs for your ministry and staff:

  1. They provide a unified voice.
  2. They provide a foundation for longer, more complex opportunities to speak.
  3. They provide a foundation for developing presentations for specific audiences’ needs.

Consistency lends credibility, and credibility is the first step to building a trustworthy reputation among your donors, prospects, media, local government, churches, businesses, other nonprofit organizations… you get the point!

So think about it…

  • What do YOU want people to know about your ministry that makes you unique?
  • Better yet, what do people NEED to know to see you as the trustworthy ministry they’re motivated to give to?

Creating key messages for your organization may seem daunting at first. How do you consolidate your wonderful work into three concise, clear and consistent messages?

I can help with that!

I’ll be discussing more ways to “conquer development” in the next several issues of BDI Inspire. Stick with me and together we’ll get to the top of that incline!

Brewer Academy – led by Shellie Speer – offers personalized guidance, training and mentorship on issues like development and key messaging. And that help is just an email away! Email Shellie now.

  • Shellie Speer

    Shellie Speer-Burnett, Senior Vice President, BDI Academy

    With over 30 years of partnership in Rescue Missions and nonprofit organizations, Shellie Speer-Burnett brings her expertise, counsel and philanthropic-centered passion to assist in furthering the work of BDI’s Rescue Mission clients. For 22 years of her career, she served as the Founder and President/CEO of her own agency, ENEX Group, which helped her clients capture hearts and donor loyalty in their communities.

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