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Does Your Tagline Work? By Ron Busroe


Here’s what you learn when the tagline works!

The Salvation Army tagline, introduced 12 years ago, is packed with meaning. The phrase speaks to our unswerving dedication to serving vulnerable citizens with basic needs and a message of Jesus’ love. Our officers believe they are answers to a prayer — both blessed and a blessing — that they are Doing the Most Good.

The phrase also reflects The Salvation Army’s legacy of responsible stewardship of our donors’ gifts. That renowned efficiency led economist and management expert Peter Drucker to declare The Salvation Army the “most effective organization in the world.” Doing the Most Good appeals to both the head and the heart.

It was relatively easy to put the tagline on our donation trucks and canteens. Bringing it to life — through digital storytelling, calls for donations, pitches to media, disaster coverage on cable news, advocacy days on Capitol Hill and social media posts — is our ongoing challenge. We have learned three key lessons:

Seize the moment.

If you find your organization suddenly in the public eye, as we did recently when a Dallas Cowboys player jumped into a giant Red Kettle on Sunday Night Football, you have 72 hours or so to leverage the limelight. With help from the Dallas Cowboys, we encouraged donations of $21 (the player, Zeke Elliott’s, number), and we were hyperactive on social media. We raised almost $250,000 in a week.

Make yourself a resource.

Reach out to reporters, writers, think tanks and policy makers who care about the same issues as you. With the help of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, we leveraged decades of service-delivery statistics into the first nonprofit-based, multidimensional measure of poverty, the Human Needs Index.

Seek out like-minded advocates.

Look to those in the worlds of sports, television, music and social media to help tell your story. A YouTube star or a mommy blogger will have a different following than a halftime A-lister or a network morning show anchor. What they all should share is a squeaky-clean reputation and an authentic connection to your cause.

Understanding changing consumer behavior and keeping up with technology is not optional in today’s communications environment. But when the rewards of breaking through are measured in human lives helped or healed, it is well worth the struggle.

What story is your tagline telling?

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Lt. Col. Ron Busroe has served The Salvation Army for more than 40 years. In his role as national community relations and development secretary, Busroe serves as the public spokesperson for the organization and focuses on raising awareness of Salvation Army social service programs and volunteer opportunities throughout the United States. This post is an excerpt from the full article that appeared in the 2017 Summer Edition of Outcomes magazine.

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