This is a longer post, but a good one. Stay with it. It's worth it.
Made to Stick is a book about creating ideas that survive and thrive. One of the key elements to a "sticky" idea is that it has an emotional impact. A great example of this comes when one of authors of made to stick does a workshop with nonprofit leaders and he asks them why there organization exists.
The head of the Duo Piano Group (a nonprofit arts group) gives this answer:
Duo Piano Group: We exist to protect, perserve and promote the music of duo piano.
The author asks a question
Author: Why is it important to protect the music of duo piano?
Duo Piano Group: Well, not much duo piano is being performed anymore. We want to keep it from dying out.
The people in the room where not impressed by this answer, as this direct quote from the book (page 200) reveals:
"The conversation went around in circles without making much progress in making the people in the room care about the duo piano as an art form. Finally one of the participants chimed in: I don't want to be rude but would the world be a less rich place if duo piano music disappeared entirely?"
This workshop participant reflects the world your nonprofit exists in PERFECTLY. You think your work is important. The rest of the world doesn't think it is important enough. It is now your job to convince them that it is! Here's how the Duo Piano Group responded to this question:
Duo Piano Group (Clearly taken aback): Wow . . . The piano is this magnificent instrument. It was created to put the entire range and tonal quality of the whole orchestra under the control of one performer. When you put two of these instruments together . . . it's like having the sound of the orchestra but the intimacy of chamber music.
Beautiful. Simply a beautiful answer. Why? Because he was able to explain why duo piano music should matter . . . TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A DUO PIANO IS!
Will this answer be strong enough to get money thrown at his group? Maybe not. But it does something equally important.
It opens a door to communication between his group, which loves the duo piano, and the 99.9% of the world for which the duo piano has no meaning.
Here is the takeaway lesson: If the mission of your nonprofit only seems to matter to you and the people exactly like you, you MUST learn to communicate the point of your mission better.
Want some help with that communication? Come to the branding workshop. I know, cheap plug . . . but I couldn't resist.