Sample Slide Deck Outline/ Template Social change isn’t easy. Your organization may have the best of intentions, but unless you can convince others to join you, you’ll never make the impact you’ve been dreaming of. You need volunteers, donors, and...Read more.
A nonprofit logic model is one of the most versatile and useful tools you can have for any nonprofit strategic planning process. Your organization can use logic models for strategic planning, operational resource planning, building a communications...Read more.
Social change isn’t easy. Your organization may have the best of intentions, but unless you can convince others to join you, you’ll never make the impact you’ve been dreaming of. You need volunteers, donors, and advocates—and the only way to get them is an engaging pitch.
So, how do you condense the complexities of your work into a concise and compelling argument? We’ll walk you through it.
As we shared in "Simple Steps to Authentic Brand Strategy," branding is really just a fancy word for personality. A strong brand thinks about, interacts with, and wants to be seen by the world in a certain way. It’s critical to building operational capacity, galvanizing support, and maintaining mission focus. So, before anything else, you’ll want to:
Develop a clear value proposition and brand position to establish reputability.
Once you know the positioning, core beliefs and values of your venture, you can begin creating conversations. The question is, with whom?
If you’re not aware of what a persona is, think of it as a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer, donor, or supporter. To create one, simply group your audiences based on:
Common motivations or pain points
Shared goals or outcomes
As you identify these figures, you’ll want to start brainstorming things like:
What will capture this persona’s attention?
What motivates them?
Think compassion, finding community, statistical impact, broad systems change, prestige and status, improve economic opportunity, children/family, better health, political outcomes, strengthen community fabric, stability, etc.
What is their vision for the world, and how can you help them get there?
Lastly, it’s time for a gut check:
How might people of different ethnicities identify with what you’re creating?
Who has historically been under-represented or marginalized?
Are you focusing all of your audiences on donors and funders, or are you thinking about clients and partners as well? Are there people your work may impact indirectly that need to be considered?
Knowing your audiences and messaging to them based on their motivations, wants, and needs, will compel them to engage with you.
Your brand needs a consistent tone. Whether it skews casual or formal is up to you, but either way, you should always be mindful of how you phrase things. You don’t want to unintentionally hurt someone. If this is a new concept, work in a group to check your language and possible biases—like we did in this example:
A few points to focus on:
“Generational health crisis” - How do you create messaging that is not inadvertently criticizing culture?
“In our community” - Are we victimizing?
“Obese” - Are we alienating individuals or treating size as a health crisis? Instead, let’s focus on health issues, i.e. the diabetes-specific statistic.
The differences are subtle but meaningful. We’ve changed the focus from shaming what children eat to leveling the playing field to create opportunity.
Have a compelling and inclusive visual language (photography, fonts, color palette, iconography, etc.)
Like written messaging, visual language conveys a lot about the organization, but how do you develop it? Design is such a complex arena. Logos, icons, photography, fonts, and colors—it’s enough to make your head spin, but don’t worry. We’ve got you.
If you haven’t already, take a look at our “Quick and Dirty Guide to Color Theory,” and then consider the colors that best represent the feeling you want as your first impression. Need help getting creative? Mood boards are an effective way to discuss ideas, share insights, and clarify communication. They help visually explain a feeling and, in turn, develop a more authentic and successful brand.
So, now that you have the framework, how do you turn it into an engaging pitch? Start building.
Below, you’ll see a few example personas we’ve created for clients; for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on Darren. What would this professional giver/investor want in a pitch?
1. Your ‘Why’
In his TEDx Talk on inspiring action, Simon Sinek shared that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is grounded in biology. Decision-making is emotional, so paint your vision in a way that helps people imagine your better world. Skeptics will still want proven results (your cynical majority), but your fellow visionaries will become your brand advocates. This ties in to the second point.
2. The Problem
Clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve, using simple terminology (no jargon). Why does your organization exist?
Problem statements are important, because often times, they are the lead-in to your messaging and meant to capture your persona’s attention. Think of it this way: If you were stuck in an elevator with Bill Gates, how would you start your pitch for him to support your new venture? You’d probably lead with the wrong you’re trying to right in the world.
Note how the iconography used is gender-inclusive.
3. Your Unique Approach
Why is your organization best suited to tackle this problem?
4. Your Impact
What measurable difference are you making?
5. Your Expertise
Why are you qualified to drive this mission? Are you a cutting edge leader? Break it down for us, and then back it up with headlines of mass scale impacts.
6. Who You Serve
Who’s on the receiving end of this effort?
Of course, all of this leads up to the one thing too many organizations dance around: the ask. We’ve established what WorkIt does, as well as how and why they do it. The only thing left is what kind of help they need to fuel their mission.
If they’ve correctly identified their personas and built upon each point above, chances are, the “Darrens” they’re pitching to will respond favorably. Onward and upward!
A nonprofit logic model is one of the most versatile and useful tools you can have for any nonprofit strategic planning process.
Your organization can use logic models for strategic planning, operational resource planning, building a communications strategy, program service design and much, much more.
However, if you've never built a logic model before, there are a few key elements that can help you successfully complete the task. That's why we put together this guide to building a nonprofit logic model.
To get the most out of this guide, download our nonprofit logic model template and follow along.
This template and the process outlined in this article are the exact tools and techniques we use with our nonprofit partners.
Overview to Build a Nonprofit Logic Model
At the simplest level, a logic model is a way to map out the activities and strategies that your organization performs to produce the outputs and outcomes that eventually lead to your mission work.
In short, this process helps connect the vision for your organization's impact to the day-to-day operations of your organization.
Download the Full Circle Fund example along with our Logic Model Template.
Here are the 4 steps to the process:
Define your Ultimate Impact and problem statement
Outlining your activities and outputs
Grouping activities into strategies
Defining the outcomes that your strategies generate
Formulating a Blue Sky Statement To Connect the “Why”
Why does your nonprofit organization exist?
Let me give you a hint... it's not just to deliver services.
As a nonprofit leader, there are values that are driving your mission work. These values and the ultimate impact they create are your "why."
Your "why" or the underlying values of your organization should be the starting point of any strategic work you do, including when creating your logic model.
Answering “why” is actually one of the most important things that you can do as a nonprofit, and in the logic model exercise we use this "why" to create our Ultimate Impact statement. Your Ultimate Impact then becomes the big vision for the work that your organization does.
Now that we know why it's important, let's talk about how we create it.
Keys to writing your Ultimate Impact:
Consider a situation in which no barrier exist
Make sure it includes the vision for the future
Work with your team and stakeholders to formulate your Ultimate Statement
Formulating a Problem Statement
In addition to defining your Ultimate Impact, we need to define the problem that your work is solving. Without a well defined problem, your work has no context.
Here are three keys to clearly defining the problem that your organization solves:
State the scale and scope of the problem - Is the problem local? International? Who is affected and for how long? And, finally, what makes your organization uniquely qualified to resolve this problem.
What is the result of the problem? - Think about how your constituents and the community are impacted by the problem and why they should care. For instance, if the problem is that groundwater is contaminated think about why this matters to your constituents. Is it that children's health is being compromised? Is it that sportsmen can't fish? Is it that the community can't drink the water?
Why should the reader care - What motivates your constituents and supporters and try to build that into your problem statement?
Our “why” is often best defined by a problem that captures our hearts and feelings.
Defining Your Nonprofit Activities and Outputs
Simply put, activities are the work that your organization does. They are often connected with your organization programs.
Examples of activities could be things like services that you deliver, volunteer programs that you run, events or education services amongst other things.
The second part of this is to define all of the outputs that your activities generate.
Outputs are directly linked to activities that your organization performs.
What makes outputs unique is that they are discrete units of work that can usually be measured.
Some examples of outputs could be:
Number of students participating in a class
Number of environmental clean-up projects completed by volunteers
Number of clients served
Amount of event attendees
The activities and outputs can be recorded in our logic model template.
Grouping Activities into Strategies
Strategies are groupings of your activities.
Most nonprofits have 3 or 4 strategies that they use to accomplish their work.
Each strategy will have a direct outcome (to be talked about later in this article) associated with it. So, each strategy should lead to one outcome at a minimum. It's important to note that strategies can lead to more than one outcome.
Each strategy will have a direct outcome
In order to group your activities into strategies, start to think about what common characteristics some of your activities have?
Some common strategies that we see a lot with our clients are:
Community or individual education
Connecting and convening
Many, many more!
Outputs vs. Outcomes
Before we talk about outcomes, it’s important to understand how they are different from outputs. This can be a bit confusing, so it’s worth taking time to clarify.
Put simply, outputs tell the story of what your organization produces. Outputs do not address the value or impact of your services.
On the other hand, outcomes are how the work you do impacts or effects the communities and individuals you serve.
Outcomes communicate the impact of your organization and how you impact your clients or those you serve.
Outputs are direct results of your activities that can be measured.
Digging into Logic Model Outcomes
As mentioned before, outcomes are the impact that our work has on the communities and individuals who you serve.
There are important things to consider about outcomes:
First, logic model outcomes can be really helpful in generating your communications messaging. We’ll dig into this shortly, but remember that outcomes communicate impact and showing your impact helps to activate your community and engage new potential supporters.
Secondly, when using outcomes to tell a story, frame them in the context of who you are "speaking to." Meaning, if you know your audience is motivated by the impact your work has on something specific, use that in your messaging.
How does the logic model make us a better nonprofit communications professional?
By now you should see how the logic model helps make you a better nonprofit communications professional.
At a basic level, it creates clarity for you, and for your marketing strategy.
Prioritizing our marketing campaigns to generate the inputs inline with our organizational goals - we talked about prioritizing and focusing campaigns based on the order of inputs you need to succeed. We also talked about focusing on specific tools and strategies based on the audiences we need to generate the inputs that we need.
Outcomes generate better messaging - we talked about how outcomes should be measured to generate better messaging. We also talked about how outcomes focus on impact, and impact is going to be what gets audiences excited about supporting your work.
Blue sky statements acquire & build loyal supporters - we talked about how blue sky statements answer the question “why.” Why do you exist? Why should people care? Once an individual gets behind the vision, they can become a loyal advocate.
We saw earlier how measuring outcomes creates more effective marketing messaging.
Knowing that, commiting to measuring outputs and outcomes is critical at an organizational level. Not only will they help in your marketing process, but they will also help generate better impact messaging.
So how do we do that?
Here are some steps to help you measure impact better:
Describe the outcomes you want to achieve (why do you perform the process or service in the first place?).
Turn the identified outcomes into a quantitative measure (i.e. % of clients demonstrating new behavior, % of clients coming back into treatment, etc.).
Confirm that your desired outcomes are actually linked to your outputs or activities. In other words, ensure that it is reasonable to expect your desired outcomes to be achieved based on your activities.
Implement these measures and track them over time.
Demonstrate and increase your success because you have the data to confidently and appropriately communicate your impact and value.