In the world of the philanthropy, the annual letter from Bill and Melinda Gate is a THING. It is always thoughtful, compelling and, without a doubt, inspirational. That said, many folks may come away thinking these letters are simply beyond where their current non profit or for profit corporate social responsibility programs are at the moment.
I say, not so fast...
There are some terrific take-aways that any organization making social impact can utilize in their communications.
They tell stories - Imagine Bill and Melinda in prison hanging out with violent offenders. That's just what they did while they painted a picture of such humanity about race, poverty and the ways that their Foundation is addressing those issues in the United States.
They are optimistic - With all of the poverty that they see across the world, it would be easy for their communications to be a bit of a downer. But they are far from that. While they regularly put forth their data driven message, they are often quick to point out the good news in the overall story they present.
"That’s one reason why Melinda and I are always talking about success stories. At a time when new outrages seem to dominate the headlines every day, we want to keep reminding people that life is getting better for millions of people in the world’s poorest countries, thanks in part to smart investments in health," said Bill Gates. "Even if you only care about the welfare of your fellow citizens, these investments are overwhelmingly smart things to do. Progress benefits everyone."
They use data the diplomat - While touching on challenging social topics, or a complex issue that might not initially be compelling to all, they use data to put forth the message. Bill even gives us a video instruction on population growth in Africa.
They are fun! - The poke fun at themselves and use action figures in their graphics! While talking about innovations such as the toilet and the importance of access for women and girls, they inject a bit of tastefully shared "potty" humor! In short, they make themselves so approachable.
They make an ask - If you decide to only implement one of their tactics, let it be this: always end with a call to action! At the end of the letter, they invite the reader to share their biggest surprise from the year. The reader now is a part of the story, which helps further engagement.
Each year, this letter serves as such a highlight. You can read the entire letter by clicking here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do. If you have any questions about how you can implement these ideas, email Katie Cabanas to schedule a complimentary call.