Creating a Non-Profit: The Brand and Mission Statement

In the last post we talked about creating a marketing strategy. That strategy is an integral part of your startup business plan. I put that up front because on a tight budget marketing can seen an overwhelming and discouraging hurdle. Relax, you can do a lot with a little.

Marketing is a strategy for communicating your Brand. That strategy is based upon research, scientific and statistical principles and a healthy mix of intuition, but it is far less complicated then that definition. Keep that in mind. We will return to it later.

Brand is who you are, what you do, how you do it and how you look to the world. To define your Brand you need to clearly define what it is you wish to do. For example, my project is to create and build a nonprofit Community radio station. In Branding I must define how that is different for all from all of the NP and for-profit stations in the marketplace. The answer is key to defining my Brand.

There are legal considerations as well. Wikipedia defines a Non-profit organization in this way: “A nonprofit organization is often dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a particular point of view. In economic terms, a nonprofit organization uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission, rather than distributing its surplus income to the organization’s shareholders (or equivalents) as profit or dividends.” A non profit, essentially, is meant to solve a problem or meet a social need, like hunger, or education, or GMOs. If you want to open a hardware store, non-profit is not the way to go.

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to nonprofits. They should really provide a benefit to the community not simply be a stealth political organization, a tax shelter or a side-saddle tax dodge for a for-profit company. A non profit should work to strengthen the community and work for people.

With regards to my project, I believe uncensored truly Independent media are critical to protecting and preserving our democracy. I also believe that the public deserves the greatest possible access to their public media. Radio is also IT and tech heavy, and dependent upon good strong and clear communication skills. Those last two are marketable attributes in the job Marketplace which would be helpful to the unemployed and underemployed.

For most projects you will end up making a list. It may be a long one. it’s important for your process to think through every aspect of your project. That longer more detailed list will be important to you in the future but for now don’t overburden yourself. Focus on the top 5 things in order of importance. Describe each in one to two clear declarative sentences. All in all there should be no more than 10 sentences in a list of 5 items critical to your organization. Here, the fewer the better, and only the most important should make the list.

So, in listing all of the things I hope to accomplish at my radio station I can begin to define my Brand more clearly. If done correctly your Brand statement should also serve as your mission statement. That will be important for a number of other purposes as you move along in the process of creating your non-profit.

Maybe you’ve already jumped to the next step. Maybe your idea is simple and straightforward enough that it only takes you one or two sentences to complete your Brand and mission statement. If that’s the case, great. If not, you’ll take your list and begin to simplify all of that into one definitive statement. and while you may be editing much of that list into the background you are not editing them out of your ultimate plan for your nonprofit. here we just need a simple strong Mission and Brand statement two laser focus the ultimate purpose and idea of your organization. mine

From the list I made previously my mission statement reads something like this, “This shall ne a Community Radio promoted to strengthen diversity in Chicago media and assist in building skills through positive and empowering holistic programming.”

It may take you a few days it may take you a week to complete this part of the process. Don’t be afraid to rewrite as much as it takes until it sounds right to you. Involve others. That’s okay. The key here is to get it done right and say exactly what you mean. Clarity is critical here. That effort and clarity now will pay dividends so to speak as you move forward through creating and implementing your nonprofit.

Your Mission and Brand statement should never be more then two sentences. One sentence is optimal. Try to stay away from commas. Commas lead to lists or over-explanations. You don’t want either here.

So now that you have your statement you’re going to need a name. That name is the flag you will hoist atop your organization. It is the first thing people will see and recognize. Maybe you have one in mind already. It should be on-point and attract people interested or sympathetic to, or in need of your service. It should pull together your entire organization and effort under one succinct and clear banner. That’s next


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