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Why Your Nonprofit Needs A Unique Value Proposition

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Once you’ve defined your nonprofit’s donor personas, you can craft a personalized, relevant message that persuades them to care about your cause and get involved.

To be most effective, however, that message needs to demonstrate not only the importance of your cause, but also the distinctive value of your organization’s approach. You can achieve this through clearly defining your nonprofit’s unique value proposition (UVP).

A unique value proposition does exactly what its name suggests: it describes the exclusive, continuous value your donors will gain by supporting your cause. Specifically, it answers two questions:

  • What makes your cause unique and worthy of support?
  • How is supporting your nonprofit beneficial for both your prospective donors (either individuals or businesses) and the community?

Whatever message best communicates with your supporters, it should convince them that your organization provides a solution for their needs and concerns.

First, establish goals.

Whether long- or short-term, clearly define your organization’s objectives, its direction, and (if possible) a way to measure the end results.

  • How do you want supporters and/or the community to perceive your organization?
  • What does your organization want to accomplish?
  • What is the best result you can expect to deliver?

Next, analyze your current situation.

Take a hard look at your organization as it stands, and build a clear, objective picture of how well-positioned you are to achieve your goals. (Remember: sum up your organization here as it actually is, not as you want your audience to see it. An accurate analysis—even if it’s not a favorable one—will help you better identify your distinctive value qualities.)

  • Clearly define your values, mission, structure, and systems. Are they cohesive in their purpose and function? Do they send a message that’s consistent with your cause?
  • Pinpoint your organization’s strengths (what you do well) and weaknesses (what needs work or re-evaluation).
  • Identify any social, economic, or political factors that can affect your organization, such as community demographics, legal guidelines, or controversial viewpoints.
  • Understand your organization’s position relative to competing nonprofits:
    • What sets your cause apart from that of other similarly-minded organizations?
    • How does their work affect your community?
    • What do their supporters like most about their work?

Last, create your Unique Value Proposition.

Remember, a compelling UVP does more than argue for your cause. It persuades prospective donors to invest in your organization, and explains how their sponsorship will make a difference, bring a benefit, or create an opportunity that they won’t find elsewhere.

  • Speak to your target audience. How does your approach solve challenges or make a difference in a way that others don’t?
  • Focus on a return for investment. Develop a detailed cost analysis (or illustrate a significant social profit) to show your supporters exactly where their donations will go.
  • Emphasize sustainable, continued value. Show donors that the benefits or rewards of supporting your cause go beyond their initial contribution.

The process of defining a UVP should help your organization form a better bird’s-eye-view of how well its systems and structures align to accomplish its goals. Once you’ve determined where you want to go and how well-prepared you are to get there, you can shape a powerful message to attract the right supporters to your nonprofit’s cause.

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