Words to live by: Inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Words to live by: Inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honors the accomplishments of this visionary leader, I am struck by what are arguably his four most famous words: – “I HAVE A DREAM” – and how that applies to every organization. Your mission is the vision – or dream – for your organization. It’s the driving force behind what you do and the reason your donors support you. Take a page from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and ensure you are effectively communicating your mission.

Communication is as much art as it is science, which is why you should have a strategic communications plan in place. It will serve as a road map for what you are communicating, when, why and to whom. While you are bound to have detours, both expected and unexpected, having a plan helps you to stay on course as you build and strengthen relationships with your donors. There is an art to storytelling, so when developing your communications, keep in mind these three essentials C’s of content:


Paint a picture that grabs the reader’s attention, interest and even heartstrings. Not dull and uninspired.


Clarity is key. Use small words, short sentences, short paragraphs. Make sure readers know what you are saying or asking.


People are time-starved. Tell your story in the fewest possible words. No rambling. No redundancy. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of history’s best communicators. Today, as we remember his legacy and hear recordings of some of his most famous speeches, listen with a communicator’s ear. How did he use words to inspire and persuade people to join the civil rights movement? What role did communications play in helping him achieve his dream? What can you learn from him and apply to your communications efforts so you can continue to advance your mission?


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