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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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The year’s best taglines
Nancy Schwartz

December, 2009

Every year, marketing maven Nancy Schwartz conducts an online contest to identify the year’s best nonprofit taglines. (Those are “straplines” to you Brits.) As Nancy says, a nonprofit’s tagline is “hands down the briefest, easiest, and most effective way to communicate its identity and impact.” Amen.

Here are this year’s winners with Nancy’s comments on them:

Arts & Culture: Big Sky. Big Land. Big History.

The Montana Historical Society takes its state’s most elemental and distinctive characteristics (Big Sky, Big Land) and deftly melds them with its mission in a way that generates excitement. The result is a tagline with punch and focus. And a big hit with voters.

Associations: Building community deep in the hearts of Texans

TexasNonprofits’ tagline tweaks the title of an iconic American popular song from the 1940s and brilliantly connects it to the spirit, passion, and mission of the state’s citizenry. A great example of how word play works in a tagline.

Civic Benefit: Holding Power Accountable

Common Cause’s tagline leaves no doubt about the organization’s mission, unique value, and commitment. It’s definitive, with a powerful economy of words. An excellent example of the tagline clarifying the nonprofit’s focus, when the organization’s name alone doesn’t do so.

Education: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste®

This 38-year-old tagline from UNCF/The United Negro College Fund still rings strong. It elegantly delivers its straight-up, powerful message. When your tagline is the boiled-down essence of your argument for support, you’ve achieved tagline bliss. That’s why this one is a classic.

Environment & Animals: Because the earth needs a good lawyer

Earthjustice capitalizes on what people do understand—that a lawyer protects rights—and uses that framework to dramatically position its role and impact in the environmental movement. And it does so with humor. If your tagline makes people smile or light up, without stepping on your message, then you’ve made an emotional connection. Bravo.

Grantmaking: If you want to be remembered, do something memorable.

It’s a rare tagline that manages to recruit people to its cause both unabashedly and effectively. That’s exactly what The Cleveland Foundation pulls off here. Clear, concise, and . . . memorable! A model for any organization promoting philanthropy.

Health & Sciences: Finding a cure now . . . so our daughters won’t have to

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s tagline is both emphatic and poignant. It strikes a deep emotional chord, and conveys the focus and impact of its work without being overly sentimental. “Finding a cure,” a highly used phrase for health organizations, is bolstered here by the appeal to solve a problem now so future generations won’t suffer from it.

Human Services: Filling pantries. Filling lives.

With simple but effective use of word repetition, the Houston Food Bank clarifies its work and impact. It delivers on two distinct levels—the literal act of putting food on people’s shelves and the emotional payoff to donors and volunteers. An excellent example of a mission-driven tagline.

International, Foreign Affairs & National Security: Send a Net. Save a Life.

Short, punchy, and laser-sharp, the Nothing But Nets tagline connects the action with the outcome. It’s inspirational in the simplicity of its message and its reason for existing. The kind of tagline nonprofits should model.

Jobs & Workforce Development and overall winner: Nothing Stops A Bullet Like A Job

Homeboy Industries’ tagline is a mini-masterpiece, telling a memorable story in just six words. It stops you in your tracks, makes you want to learn more, and sticks with you afterward. That’s the kind of potent nonprofit messaging every organization desires.

Media: Telling stories that make a difference

If your organization’s name is vague, it’s critical that your tagline be distinct. Barefoot Workshops’ tagline sums up the transformative power of stories to create change in people and their communities, so clarifying the organization’s focus. Saved by the tagline!

Religion & Spiritual Development: Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors. The work of religious organizations often operates on several planes at once—a challenge for any organization and its messaging. Here, The United Methodist Church delivers a tagline trinity that supports its applied faith mission and is warm, enthusiastic, and embracing.

Other: A head for business. A heart for the world.

If an organization’s identity contains within in it a distinct contrast between its key characteristics, that’s often good tagline material. Here, Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) surprises with its crystal-clear tagline that conveys not only what’s unique about it, but also capitalizes on the contrast between profit and compassion.

—Excerpted from Nancy Schwartz’s Getting Attention Blog.


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