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Point of View

Every successful communication effort has an inherent point of view. Think of point of view as the tone, voice, style or personality for your communication.

Your point of view shapes not only what you say, but how you carry yourself. It colors how your audience perceives the messenger and how it receives the message.

Point of view can be carefully designed and cultivated, or an organic outgrowth of your organizational style. It might be brash and confrontational (PETA), intense and provocative (The Truth Campaign), or funny and self-deprecating (Grist.org). Whatever the case, even the smallest act of communication has an inherent point of view embedded in it. The opportunity lies in deciding how to maximize its value.

Much like the brand associations that consumer marketers work so hard to cultivate around products and lifestyles, point of view is also an important strategic consideration for organizations seeking to drive social change. A wealthy foundation spending down its endowment or a grassroots organization in high stakes public fight may each feel a higher tolerance for risk or confrontation than a community foundation seeking to appeal to a diverse set of donors.

Whatever your circumstance, the key to success is acting authentically. That means communicating with a point of view that is believable, appropriate and aligned with your organizational values.

by the numbers


The percentage of annual expenditures that most nonprofits can spend on lobbying.


The number of Ice Bucket Challenge videos that were shared to Facebook. The videos were viewed more than 10 billion times by 440 million people.


Percentage of participants in a 47-country survey who said that seeing the film An Inconvenient Truth caused them to change some of their daily habits.

tips and insights

The limitations on lobbying by nonprofits applies to lobbying on “specific legislation.” That leaves a lot of room for education and advocacy on important issues.

Having a clear point of view starts with knowing where you came from and understanding what motivates your organization. Assembling a “sacred bundle” can help build a storytelling culture that binds everyone on your team together and strengthens your institutional voice.

It is difficult for people to wrap their head around large and obscure numbers. Grounding numbers in a comparison to a well-known object makes it easier to comprehend. Using a visual to communicate this comparison can be the silver bullet to effective communication.