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Tips for Creating Your Nonprofit's Value Proposition

Most people are familiar with value propositions, even if they are unsure exactly what value proposition are. A value proposition is a short description of what a company provides for its customers in exchange for their financial support. If you’ve ever purchased a product, paid for a service, or donated to a nonprofit, you likely did so because you accepted (perhaps subconsciously) its value proposition.

Perhaps you saw a value proposition on the Red Cross website that said, “Help military Families,” and being a patriotic philanthropist was valuable to you personally. Or maybe you were interested in learning something new, and the Khan Academy value proposition, “You can learn anything,” inspired you.

Screenshots on desktop and a mobile phone of the Khan Academy home page. The desktop version has a blue background with mountains in varying shades of blue. The statement You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever. shows clearly in white against the background. The mobile phone shows a small image of many people at the top with text about Khan Academy beneath it.

Your nonprofit needs a value proposition, too. It makes your organization stand out from millions of other charities. It makes people want to support you as donors and as volunteers.

Value Proposition Tips for Nonprofits 

To write a compelling value proposition for your nonprofit, you need to understand what motivates people to act on the problem you are trying to solve. Use this knowledge and your mission statement as the starting points for your value proposition. 

1. Outline the Problem 

Very few things motivate someone to support a cause—either financially or through public discussion—more than a problem they have themselves. It’s important to connect the problem your organization is trying to solve to the people you want to support you.

Global warming, for example, is a problem that impacts everyone, but it can feel overwhelming to individuals. If you can explain how the problem affects readers personally, you can have a much greater impact on their decision to contribute to the solution. 

2. Clearly State Your Solution

It’s very important to get this right. If you are building a donation-based business, your contributors will want to know how their money will be spent. The Red Cross does this well by providing an easily digestible recap of its disaster response results from the previous year. 

The statistics provide valuable insight into how the donations are being put to use. In 2018, for example, the Red Cross served more than 8 million meals and provided shelter for more than 290,000 nights. 

3. Make It Mission Driven 

Nonprofit organizations’ missions are synonymous with the Silicon Valley buzzword moonshot. More often than not, nonprofits are tackling the world’s most daunting problems, the problems that profit-driven entrepreneurs aren’t even willing to risk. 

The Mayo Clinic is on a mission to end undiagnosed and misdiagnosed diseases through finding the right answers. In fact, 88 percent of patients who came to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion left with a new or refined diagnosis. 

Craft Your Value Proposition

Combine your problem, solution, and mission to create your value proposition. Make it about your mission to fight poverty, provide clean water for everyone, educate the world for free, or  [insert your mission here]. 

Your value proposition should be succinct and impactful. Make every syllable count. 

Bonus tip: If you can, include your value proposition in your organization’s name. The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, for example, explicitly states its value proposition in the organization’s name. The nonprofit provides free beds (and more) for families to experience rehabilitation. 

KC KarnesKC Karnes is a well-known marketing strategist and entrepreneur responsible for growing some of the finest technology companies in Silicon Valley, including CleverTap, the Intelligent Mobile Marketing Platform.

Topics: Nonprofit Value Propositions