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Telling Your Story: 5 Steps to Develop Your Organization’s Voice



When a donor or volunteer hears the name of your organization, what image instantly comes to mind? Does it conjure thoughts of impact and how your organization makes a difference? Or is the story you tell inconsistent and lacking a true purpose? You have the ability to shape this image through the stories you tell. It’s up to you to share your organization’s impact by developing a consistent, impactful voice.


Your organization’s “voice” is often determined by your mission. It may be light and playful when your mission is to host playgroups for at-risk preschoolers, or your voice may reflect a more serious tone if your organization works to stop hunger in developing nations. Either way, your organization’s voice should consistently signal to your donors who you are and how they, as donors, are making an impact. Here are five great ways to help you develop your organization’s voice that will set you apart from other nonprofits:


  1. Create a word map of phrases, action words, adjectives, and quotes from recipients of your organization that clearly share the message you wish to portray. This is an opportunity to brainstorm with your team and then go through the words to decide what voice you want others to hear when they see your communications materials. Leave the word map in a place where colleagues from different departments in your organization can see and become familiar with your message and tone.

  2. Sharing common language across all platforms is key. Make sure your website, social media presence, emails, acknowledgment letters – from leadership acknowledgments to first time donor postcards – all share a common thread. Donors and volunteers should hear the same message and voice from you so often, they are confident that the work you (and they!) do makes an impact.

  3. Photography matters. Lay out printouts from your website, recent social media posts, postcards and newsletters and examine the photos you are using to see if they are engaging and reflective of your organization’s voice. It’s an investment, but it may be worthwhile to hire a professional photographer to help build a library of visuals that clearly depict your organization. Photos should show action, impact, and movement from your organization.

  4. Develop a brand for your department or organization. As donor relations professionals, it is important for donors to know when they hear from you, it will always be about impact and how they are making a difference. Consider labelling your communications with a tagline such as “gratitude” or “your impact” to streamline all your communications to donors.

  5. Consistency in editing. Select one staff member who is most familiar with your organization’s voice as the final editor on all communications, specifically when you are first developing your organization’s tone and voice. This will ensure consistency and a fluid editing and review process across all platforms and communications.

As you develop your organization’s voice and tone, you will begin to see a consistent message emerge through your communication channels. This will help boost your donor retention efforts and enable you to show impact to your donors in a thoughtful, reliable way. And as you do the work, we’d love to cheer you on! Let us know which creative taglines and ideas you come up with as you develop your voice and tone as an organization or within your department. Have fun with it and let your organization’s true impact shine through!


Written by Holly Kizer



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