When I started drafting this email - all about breaking down the value proposition - I had every intention of staying on topic. 

But "break down" led to 

"break dance" 

which led to "break dancing videos on YouTube" 

which led to this exchange with my son:

Luckily, I pulled myself together and got back to the task at hand. Because the value proposition - despite being another buzzword whose true meaning eludes most of us - is extremely important to understand. It is the very basic of the basics. It is the reason that people will support or join your cause.  And so much of the work we do in promoting our organizations involves giving people reasons to care, engage, and donate. 

In the past, I've ´╗┐mistakenly assumed that a value proposition was the corporate version of a mission statement.  And, therefore, ´╗┐never gave it much thought. What I've learned - and what I'm sharing with you this week - is just how relevant the value proposition is to nonprofits. 

It is not a mission statement. And it is not a vision statement. It's different. And, the simplest way I've been able to describe that difference is this:

Mission: we do this. 

Vision: we want and hope for this.

Values: we believe and act like this. 

Value Proposition: You will get/do this by supporting us.

In the plainest terms: why should someone give to you rather than to some other organization or at all? The focus is on the supporter, not on what your organization does or what your organization needs.

Another way to think of the value proposition (to borrow from for-profit business) is that it is an offer. What kind of impact or experience can your supporters expect to make or have through your organization? What rewards - emotional, psychological, tangible - are you offering people who give or join you?

So, if you want to help more people connect with your mission and, ultimately, give you their money, make nailing down your top 3-5 value propositions your first priority. Remember: different people will have different reasons for wanting to support you but that's not an excuse for sending generalized appeals. Speak as specifically as you can about your leading value propositions and use data to target the most relevant audience(s). 

If you want to learn more about how to use your value proposition, you can take this free course. And, if you just want to be distracted by insane breakdancing moves, you can go down your own rabbit hole here

Keep Up the Good Work,  


P.S. This was the second installment in a series on the, often overlooked, basic elements of nonprofit management. If you missed last week's message about clear and specific communication, you can read it here:

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