4 steps to a better nonprofit tagline

Tagline: Since 1954.

Possibly the worst nonprofit tagline. I know why this is the tagline of choice for so many nonprofits. They want to show they’ve been around, that they know what they’re doing, that they can be trusted.

Those things matter. But they aren’t interesting. Worse, they don’t point anyone in the direction of action. It’s just chest-thumping of an especially dull variety.

If you have a nonstarter of a tagline and you want to make it better, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Decide the audience for this tagline. Your primary audience might be donors, but it might be ticket-buyers, patients, the people you directly serve, or others. Or some combination of two or more different audiences. Put it in writing and think carefully about what your organization means to the audience you intend to reach.
  2. Make it about what your audience can do. Not about some attribute of your organization. Nike’s tagline isn’t about the quality of their shoes; it’s about what the shoes mean to their customers. Go for that approach. Say something concrete, action-oriented, and inspiring. In just a few words. That’s not easy!
  3. Clever wordplay is neither necessary nor helpful. Wordplay is not as cool as you think. It’s more likely confusing than interesting. And it rarely inspires action or connection. Just don’t do it.
  4. Big picture, a tagline isn’t all that important. Really, it’s not going to change your fate. Good fundraising with a lousy tagline will work just fine. If changing your tagline will be a heavy lift and/or cause conflict, don’t bother! Spend your time being good at connecting with donors.

See also these posts on tagline:


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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