What are the few words you would put in the central core? Keep reading to find out more about message maps. Then submit your ideas as a comment to this blog or directly to me. I already have a favorite–let’s see if I like yours better.
A message map is a tool to accomplish the following:
Provide a prompt for speaking about the organization to others.
Help to align the organization as everyone uses the message map to describe the organization.
It is a radial chart with the organization’s core work listed in the center in about 6 words, with supporting programs around it, and stats or other prompts related to the effects from those programs radiating from those support programs.
The example used in my workshop (Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising) was from one of the instructors who had been a long-time CEO of the United Way of St. Louis, MO. Interestingly, it even took United Way a while to get that central message down to just a few words. But those few words ended up being, “We help people.” (Seems obvious now, doesn’t it?)
As the CEO, he would use the message map to frame all his talks, and because it included important programs and supporting data, he could use it for very short talks, very long ones, and everything in between. As a speaker, he would start by saying that United Way helps people. “For example, we help youth strengthen basic life skills by supporting programs like Girls on the Run, the regional Girl Scout Council and the local public school foundation. In fact, we touched the lives of XX youth in St. Louis in 2017. United Way also helps children improve their basic academic skills. For example, our Read to Succeed program meant that XX children had much better access to reading materials and the encouragement to improve. That will help them throughout their lives.” Etc.
The message map above is one we’ve been playing with in senior staff and Board meetings. The closest four blocks are directly from our mission statement. The radial blocks are examples of work in each of the blocks. It is obviously not comprehensive right now. But it DOES give an idea of how this works. So what are the few words you would put in the central core? It does not have to be unique (“we help people” certainly isn’t) but it does have to match why we exist. It is, after all, the core of who UUCA is.
Linda Topp, Director of Administration