It's time for the annual Nonprofit Tagline Awards. The awards competition was launched in 2008 after the completion of the Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Survey. The survey investigated styles, usage trends, what’s working and what’s not in nonprofit taglines based on data provided by 1,900 nonprofit communicators working in organizations across 11 vertical sectors and countless locations (mostly in the United States). What the survey found is that 72% of nonprofit organizations don't have a tagline, or rate theirs a performing poorly.
A strong tagline conveys your organization's message to stakeholders and keeps the organization on message as well. This year, for the first time, organizations can enter a tagline for their program (product or service), fundraising campaign and/or special event, in addition to their organizational tagline. As of the date of publishing, there are already 600 tagline entries.
I interviewed Nancy Schwartz, creator of the Nonprofit Tagline Awards, about the competition, taglines, and how taglines make a difference.
1. Why did you create the awards competition?
I believe strongly that your tagline is the most important eight words (or less) messaging you have, I launched the awards program to close that gap, and to bring attention to the need. We are also trying to grow use of “Great Words Promoting Good Causes” (our new tagline!)
2. How has the competition itself changed over the years and why?
In response to requests from participants, several aspects of the competition have changed over time. This year we have 13 unique vertical sectors within the organizational tagline category and have introduced three new categories – soliciting tagline entries for program (program, product or service), fundraising campaign and special event taglines. These new categories stem from suggestions from past voters and participants. In addition, we’ve added a 16-member judges panel to this year’s competition. I thought it was high time that we had folks other than me and my team evaluating what works best.
3. What are the main benefits of creating a great tagline for an organization, product, service, or event?
A strong organizational tagline does double-duty — working to extend your organization’s name and mission, while delivering a focused, memorable and repeatable message to your base.This “haiku of branding” is one of your most effective marketing tools and ideal for sharing via social media. Once you have an effective organizational tagline in place, crafting taglines at the program or campaign level provides those initiatives with the same kind of marketing muscle.
4. What is the "secret sauce" to creating a great tagline?
Like the best sauces, the nonprofit tagline sauce is rich in complex flavors. There is no single secret ingredient and the total is more than the sum of its individual parts.
The recipe for a great tagline includes clarity, brevity, relevance, authenticity, specificity and comprehensiveness of use, as well as creating a connection between the reader and the organization. Mix well and serve.
5. What is the selection process for the awards?
The criteria for winning taglines include clarity, brevity, relevance, authenticity, specificity and comprehensiveness of use, as well as creating a connection between the reader and the organization. Tagline awards FAQ and complete criteria for winning taglines are outlined here.
Each submitted tagline is reviewed in comparison to others in its category by the Getting Attention team. Up to forty semi-finalist taglines are selected via this process and forwarded to the judge handling that category. A diverse panel of expert judges will select the finalists. Each judge will select three to five top taglines as the finalists in her category. At that point, all members of the nonprofit community, from staff and volunteers to service providers, board members and donors will be invited to vote on the best tagline within each categor
6. Do you have a story about how a tagline helped a nonprofit achieve its goals?
Tom Johnson of The New Depot Players Theatre Troupe says this about how the process of developing their tagline helped the Troupe: "After reading the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report and hiring a professional facilitator to help our theatre troupe set concrete goals for us to reach in 2010, I knew that the brand and specifically the tagline, could have significant impact on our reach within the community and the arts industry in our metro area. I’m excited to see what the judges say about our tagline, but we have already reaped the rewards with an increase in membership, awareness and consistency in our organization’s marketing and communications. Nancy’s checklist for developing an expert tagline was an invaluable resource when I sat down to craft something memorable.”
7. Do you have a story about how a nonprofit that won the Taggies parlayed that achievement into success meeting its marketing goals?
Here’s as far as we know:
“We were very pleased to have our tagline recognized by our colleagues in the industry. Our award has given the U.S. Fund extra visibility for its marketing and brand work!”
—Kim Pucci, Marketing Director, U.S. Fund for UNICEF
“We were thrilled to be selected as the tagline award winner in the Human Services category. We leveraged the award as we rolled out our new brand and kicked off the public phase of our $5M capital campaign. It was highlighted as an achievement in all of our capital campaign foundation grant requests and spotlighted in our agency newsletter and in the local media. And, the media buzz that this award created helped JFCS maximize its marketing efforts without the need for allocating additional dollars in this difficult economy.”
—Rose Chapman, LCSW, President/CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Sarasota-Manatee, Inc.
8. Anything else you want to add?
I’m just thrilled to be helping so many organizations be recognized for their hard and imaginative messaging work, and to be guiding others still on their way via the work of their peers.
To enter the competition, complete the entry form here. It may be helpful to read this Q&A blog post from a community college in the process of finalizing its tagline. To read more about this year's competition, and about past tagline awards winners, visit Nancy Schwartz' Getting Attention blog post about the awards.