I think our interest in telling our story is to increase people’s understanding of what Tides Canada does, why what we do is important, how Tides Canada does things, and how this works in our interests and the interests of the people we serve, – and to interest, engage, excite and attract more people to do business with us. This is how I might tell the Tides Canada story.
The Story Line
I would start by changing the story line for the story.
Thinking Big. Giving wisely.
This tells people what we do instead of telling them what to do. We think big. We provide leadership in our thinking and in what we do. We are in the business of helping people who think big or like to think big to give more wisely and be more successful in changing things for the better. Changing things for the better is why we are in business and our primary interest of our enterprise.
This allows people to connect with us more easily by seeing we have an interest in common, even though they may not yet have articulated their interest in this way.
The story line positions us and tells our one-line story to connect with and attract people who have this interest. I think it should almost always accompany the Tides Canada name. Our brand is what we come to be known for.
I would close the longer versions of our story and all our communications with the call to action. Think Big. Give Wisely. This bookends and reconnects to what we do and what we are all about. We help people with an interest in thinking big and giving wisely.
I would begin our story with an articulation of our interests as an enterprise and the interests we serve. This is what I understand
“Our interest is in protecting our environment and human health and in nurturing social and economic equality. We are interested in working on the root causes of problems and in finding long term sustainable solutions. These are interests that many of us have in common and issues that are in the common interest of all people.”
“We help people who like to make a big difference to find opportunities where their donations will contribute to creating significant change and have a lasting impact on the issues they care about.”
How do we do this?
This is what I understand.
“We do this by finding and exploring enterprises that demonstrate they are doing things that contribute substantially, successfully and sustainably to our common interests in these areas; by connecting our clients to the opportunities that best serve their particular interests; and by assisting them in making choices and in managing their resources and directing their contributions easily and efficiently.”
How do we serve our clients?
I might personalize our conversation to talk more specifically about we serve our clients. Something like…
“If you were a client, we would start by establishing your own Client-Directed Giving Fund for you. Creating your own personalized and customized directed giving fund gives you the flexibility and freedom to make the choices that best suit your individual interests and needs.
Creating your own Directed Giving Fund is like creating your own foundation, except that Tides Canada takes care of everything for you while you decide how and who your donations are to be directed to. You can name your giving fund and create a statement of your interests.
Our professional staff collaborates with you, advises you, and assists you in finding and making the philanthropic investments that best align with and serve your interests. Our administrative systems and your Directed Giving Fund manager ensure your funds are managed, delivered, applied and perform well in serving your interests.”
Why Do Business with us?
“We understand the issues. Our professional staff, with the help of our network of knowledgeable experts, are actively engaged in the issues, and are informed about what is happening, what is working, who are working on the issue, and how what they are doing is making a difference.
We understand the world of philanthropy. We understand the tax issues, the legal issues, the estate issues, how to safeguard resources, and how to invest to maximize returns. And we understand the personal issues that are at the heart of philanthropic giving.
We provide our clients with all the services they need to administer and grow their funds and the ability to make the choices that best serve their interests. We work collaboratively with their advisors to ensure that issues such as taxation, succession planning, and cross border giving are well managed to our clients advantage.”
We may have a number of things in this area of discussion that set us apart and are unique to the way we do business. These could be our approach in using external expert advisors, our Special Interest Directed Giving Fund vehicles that are like a mutual fund for smaller investors around a larger area of interest that is uniquely designed to give donors a part in making a larger impact on an issue as part of a group, or how we always ensure that the projects and initiatives we invest in are going to be ones where sustaining and operating funding is going to be sustained, or where any other number of criteria, systems, ways of doing business, or policies increase our assurance of achieving success in the initiatives and enterprises we invest in, in terms of our interests.
I might close with why we think what we do is important and our statement of interests for our future, along with our call to action. Something like…
“We are at a time when we need to find new and more effective ways of changing the way we do things to make our world a safer, healthier and better place to live. We are learning how to do this. We need to learn more, do more, and be more effective.
Tides Canada is helping donors and grant-seekers make a bigger impact by bringing them together around initiatives that move us forward more rapidly. Our interest is to find more people who care to think big and give wisely and to assist them in helping others who are making things happen in our interests.
If you would like to learn more about what we are doing and who we are doing it with, call… or visit our website at…”
Think Big. And Give Wisely.
I think the website should tell our story clearly, simply and completely on the home page with a “learn more” button to move them to the site map on the second page. The site map would include places where people can get more detailed information based on who they are and their interests. I might be inclined to create an entry page in front of the home page that simply has our name and our positioning statement.
I think there should be no hyperbole or any sense of ‘selling’ that the reader could experience. We are simply providing information to increase our audiences’ understanding of what we do, how we do it and how what we do serves the interests of our clients and our common interests. We are dealing with intelligent people who already care. At least, these are the people we want to attract and want to work with. These are also the people we will be most successful in serving. We want to let them know what we care about and that we care about the interests of the people we do business with. These are people like us. They won’t be ‘sold’ and don’t enjoy the feeling or experience of being sold to. They can make up their own mind on the information we give them and our confidence that we are doing the right things, doing things the right way and doing them well. That’s the message and the feeling we want to breathe to them.
I think short messages, well articulated, have a greater chance of being heard, understood and acted on.
I would look to advertise on someone else’s dollar. Perhaps in the communications of the enterprises we partner with and direct grants to. Get them to acknowledge their relationship with Tides Canada. Works for both parties. Links or our web address give people interested the opportunity to learn more.
I would create one primary print piece, short, attractive, easy to read and understand to tell our story. This would continually be improved upon and updated as we get better at telling our story. It is designed to make the sale, – without selling.
I think the customized set of information pieces tailored to the individual interests and specific needs of our different audiences should look like they belong with our primary print piece and be designed to give people who have an interest in learning more about doing business with us all the details they need to understand what they can buy, how they can buy and how it works for them to help close the sale.
I would leave the testimonials and the stories of the enterprises we support and do business with for the website. I think if people need assurance they are making a good decision and are in good company they will go to the website for more information. I think if it is included in the print materials it distracts from the conversation we are having with the reader.
If I was going to use someone else’s voice to help make the sale it would be to talk about the importance of dealing with the issues that Tides Canada is helping with and not to sing the praises of the competency and quality of service that Tides delivers. That should be a given.
I offer this all as form and approach. I drew the content from your materials but I still don’t fully understand what you do, how you do things and how things work in the context of the world of philanthropy, philanthropists and foundations. I will welcome a short primer on this some day. I am sure it will influence how I might add to and improve the story if I were telling it. I may have most of it but I have a feeling there is some gold missing.
This is what I think. Hope this is useful. I would be happy to continue the conversation. I think what you are doing is great. It works for me.
Ideas for Tides Canada
Roger Chilton 2004.03.29 – PDF