Mission-Motivated Messaging Checklist

mission, messaging, checklist. non profits
Got your why? Check!

This morning, I got to spend time at the PNAIS Advancement Conference. I did a session on Marketing Your Mission in 3 Easy Steps. No matter how many times I present on this topic, I’m always 1) humbled by the AMAZING work being done to make the world a better place and 2) reminded how little time we spend on the Why of it all.

Directly after my presentation, I got to hear Susan Howlett speak. Susan is responsible for transforming thousands of organizations through her work with boards. Her book Boards on Fire is setting the world of fundraising on fire!

In her session, Susan encouraged us to heed Simon Sinek’s advice to start with the why–and to keep going back to the why. Not just start with why, but to lead with why from start to finish. Sprinkle in some what and how, sure, but elevate the why.

For some reason, the mission-motivated of the world shy away from sharing their why. Why be shy about your why?

In an effort to stop this “Shy About Why” epidemic, I created a Mission-Motivated Messaging Checklist. The next time you are going to communicate about your organization, run down the following list:

  1. Why? Why does your organization exist? Why should someone care about what you’re doing?
  2. Why you? Of all the organizations out there, why should someone engage with you? What makes you special? Compelling?
  3. Why now? What makes now the time for someone to take action?
  4. What ┬ánow? What, specifically, do you want the person to do? Make it clear and make it easy. (Note: If you’re writing a Thank You note, for instance, the “action” might be to feel really, really good about the impact they’ve had. This isn’t a plug to always make an ask. It’s a plug for always being clear on what you hope the person on the receiving will feel and, when appropriate, do.)

If you address all of these, you’ll be in good shape.

Are you shy about your why? If so, why?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?