It happens time and time again: an organization puts forth messages about why its cause is important but it doesn’t get the kind of response it hoped for. It’s bizarre, right? I mean, obviously the work is important. Why else would someone dedicate so much of her time and effort to a cause if it wasn’t important? Why would anyone dedicate his life to it?
The problem isn’t that your cause isn’t important (because it is). The problem is that there are lots of important causes out there.
There are more than 1.1 million nonprofits in the United States, all of them working on important issues. Donors have lots of options for where to put their support – more than they can actually support – and you’re competing against them. So it’s not just why you’re important, but why you’re more important than those other causes.
Yes, this is a somewhat subjective challenge. After all, what’s important to one person may not be to another. But that’s exactly the point. People are different: different opinions, different values, different interests. And the way to show that you’re more important is to appeal to those opinions, values, and interests. You’re talking about why the problem is important to you when you should be talking about why it’s important to your target audience.
Understanding your target audience is critical to crafting effective messages. You need to speak to their values, their interests, their concerns. We often think we have to prove that our cause is important, but it’s more that we have to prove that our cause is important to them. The question to ask yourself isn’t “Why do I care about this?” but rather “Why do they care?” Then, not only will your messages resonate with your audience, but you’ll stand out from the rest of the pack.
Do your messages speak to your audience’s values? How does your organization adopt your audiences’ perspectives? What have you found works best when crafting messages that target a particular audience?