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Aha!! You could almost see the lightbulbs...

by Jennifer Hutchins

You know what I love? Seeing a MANP member’s lightbulb moment learning a new approach or idea.

Last Thursday, over 170 nonprofit leaders and friends gathered for MANP’s Executive Leadership Forum to hear Dr. Lynn Davey urge us to reframe how we explain what we do. If every audible AHA! actually lit up a bulb, we could have illuminated the Portland skyline!

So, what did she say?!

Here are my key takeaways:

  1. Not everyone shares my top values. Opening with care for the needy can tune some people out, while emphasizing community benefits could keep the door open for further dialogue.
  2. Blaming the victim is rampant. We often emphasize personal responsibility for societal woes (“Children growing up in low-income, single-parent households”), rather than focusing on systemic factors (“Geography can limit a person’s access to opportunity”).
  3. Storytelling is useful, but limited. Telling one person’s story can tug at the heartstrings and motivate a donor to give, but it also reinforces personal responsibility as the cause. Instead, we need to talk more about systemic failings: How do our communities contribute to the challenges we face?
  4. My final takeaway? Together, we can improve perceptions of the entire Maine nonprofit sector. With shared messages, we can emphasize how we are a vital part of the economy and impact Maine’s quality of life.

Missed it?

In the video below, Dr. Davey explains why issue framing matters. Come to this workshop with Dr. Davey on June 8 where you can practice reframing your nonprofit’s messages. You can also download our free toolkit with templates, sample messages and pointers from Dr. Davey.

MANP is committed to being the voice for Maine’s nonprofits by advocating for the sector as whole and showing how we collectively impact the economy and Maine communities. We look forward to your questions and comments!

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