One strategic question we ask our clients early in an engagement is to describe their niche in their broader social impact ecosystem or category. In asking this question, we have found that nonprofits don’t often contemplate the idea of where they fit in their issue area. They have a clear idea of their mission. They often have a well-considered theory of change. But they haven’t always thought through what their unique positioning is compared to other organizations in their space.
Social enterprises tend to grasp this concept most easily. They think about where their products and services fit into the market. Still, they don’t always take into consideration where their social purpose fits into their cause ecosystem.
We believe that it’s critical for social impact leaders to clearly define the niche of their organization. Without it, you run the risk of mission creep, unfocused messaging, and a lack of differentiation. A strong understanding of your niche helps you stand out, attract supporters and funders, and provide your staff with a clear sense of purpose and direction.
When organizations say to us, “We’re having a difficult time telling our story.”, we often find that they don’t just have a messaging problem, but also a positioning problem. Developing a clear understanding of their niche brings clarity to their impact story.