Saturday, November 10, 2007

sticky messages for nonprofits

Before speaking about new media options at yesterday's Maryland Nonprofits annual conference, I listened to keynote speaker Dan Heath -- coauthor of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die -- walk the crowd through the two sticky concepts he felt are most relevant to nonprofits: expressing ideas in ways that are emotional, to move people to action, and concrete, so that audiences can understand and embrace them. The problem? "Nonprofit language ain't concrete," said Heath, who'd analyzed mission statements of nonprofit organizations in the audience and showed them to the group. Those with missions to help "people everywhere" or "all citizens" are doomed to fail, Heath said, urging the group to make their organizations known to "the people that count" rather than the vague crowd. His take on why nonprofits cling to "boring, mushy messages?" Fear of turning people off, a risk he thinks worth taking. We carried that message forward in the session on "Energizing Your Communities of Support" by suggesting ways to use new media options from Facebook to blogging to find the people that count for your organization.

Buy Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

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