Announcing the Meaty Awards

Meaty Awards image

Nonprofit executives should pack meat…Announcing the Meaty Awards!

I once ran a strategy workshop at a meat packing plant.   The executives were laser focused when it came to their goal. All they cared about was ensuring that meat – their only product – was at the center of the consumer’s plate.

They reduced their business world to a very simple formula.  They wanted every consumer to consider meat or a meat product as the essential part of the daily diet. Not fish. Not poultry, and certainly not tofu. If your meal’s main protein is not meat, then they were doing something wrong.

We all know that running a nonprofit can be complicated.  You need to appeal to funders and write grants. You need to hunt for and recruit volunteers. You need to figure out what services to deliver to beneficiaries and what else might satisfy your partners and other stakeholders. 

You juggle many balls in the air in order to promote and serve your market.  Therefore, you have a right to ask how you can even remotely compare a meat business to a very complicated nonprofit service?


A complaint disguised as a question

Is this even the right question? No, it’s a complaint disguised as a question.

If the meat-packing case teaches you anything, it’s the lesson of strategic simplicity. 

When you ask the right question, you can swiftly home in on the right answers. Your market messages become very clear – and very effective.

For example, the right question could be: What is our singular strategic goal, and have we been able to reduce that goal to a simple, easily understood message?  Can everyone understand that message as soon as they hear it?

Once again, instead of focusing on the process, the meat executives focused on the product. They wanted to make meat the most appealing, most easily accessible food out there.  They wanted all consumers to realize that meat is the easiest-to-prepare, most flavorful, and hunger-satisfying product on the market.

Make no mistake. A meat product also has several processing steps before it reaches the butcher shop or grocery store.  These executives understood that. They also understood that while storage, processing, packaging, and delivery are essential steps to producing a meat product, those all took a back seat to the ultimate objective.  None were a strategy.  These pieces were part of a process they would orchestrate to ensure the consumer placed meat at the center of the plate.


A meat packer’s critical strategic questions

If I were a meat packing executive that someone hired to run a nonprofit, here are the strategy questions I would immediately ask the board and other stakeholders (in this instance, let’s call them steakholders):

  • What service do you “sell”? Describe it in 15 words or less?
  • How many kinds of services do you offer? Do they all tie back into a single overarching service? Or do you have to divide them into two or more categories?
  • How does social media label your organization? In other words, how do others describe you and the services you deliver?
  • Does your website and other promotional material send a unifying message? Is this message clear and straightforward? Does the site’s stories or narrative expand on that one, singular message?
  • How does your strategy and resulting message distinguish you (“the meat”) from every other nonprofit offering similar offering (think tofu)? Is your message compelling and overwhelmingly attractive to the potential donor?

Send in your Meaty nominations

In June 2020, I will be handing out the first “Meaty” awards.  The Meaty Award is based on the clarity of your strategy and its message, and evidence that donors and funders place your nonprofit at the center of their donation plate.

Good luck, all nonprofits.  If you think your nonprofit is worthy of receiving the Meaty, please send me in your nomination.

Remember, when you think about a clear strategic goal, think meat.