Shared Space in a Nutshell: Messaging Your Collaborative

When you provide shared space or back office services for nonprofits it can be a challenge to explain what exactly it is that you do. This was the focus of NCN’s virtual Community of Practice last week. Honing our message is a continual work in progress.

For many years, we’ve included Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk in our Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp Curriculum. While providing affordable space for nonprofits is a noble endeavor, most of us are in this field for a greater purpose. Sinek argues that if you can articulate the “Why” behind the “What” that you do, you will be more success and convincing people to support your cause.

Another tool that I have found to be incredibly useful is Mission Minded’s Minute Messaging Model, which was recently featured on their blog. Mission Minded asks people to develop a series of timed  stories about their mission:

  • The One-Minute Message – A belief statement that shares your vision, explains what you do, and why people should care
  • The Two-Minute Message – A discussion of why you do what you do
  • The Five Minute Message – An anecdote that showcases the importance of what you do
  • The 10 Minute Message – How you achieve your mission

While this may seem overwhelming, Mission Minded provides tools like madlibs and guiding questions to help you tell your story. Take the One-Minute Message for example:

At (your organization’s name), we believe (deeply held value). Every day we (verb) (object) for (constituents). Because (problem statement or opportunity statement).

Since the story of shared space isn’t as straightforward as the story of your local animal shelter or food pantry, it pays to practice, so everyone in your community can understand why your community needs a home. What’s your organization’s one-minute message? Share it in the comments below!


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