Get the Point, Already: BLUF

Watch a video to see how Mitsy gives you the tools to use the BLUF philosophy

The other day I received an email from my son’s school. The subject was something along the lines of “News from the School District: Academic Calendars”. In a not very prominent place and alongside the approved calendars for the next two school years, there was the big news that the last day of school for this year has been changed. That little tidbit has a huge impact on a lot of people. Not only vacation and summer camps, but graduation day when family members from all over the country are descending upon our little town to witness their loved ones’ first major achievement in life.

I talked about this in a conversation about poor communication with my niece. She is in the Army and mentioned an acronym the Army uses.

BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front

According to Wikipedia:

A BLUF (bottom line up front) is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text, rather than the end, in order to facilitate rapid decision making. This differs from an older, more-traditional style in which conclusions and recommendations are included at the end, following the arguments and considerations of facts. The concept is not exclusive to writing; it can also refer to conversations and interviews.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLUF_(communication)

She explained to me that because soldiers are often on training missions or deployed to areas with sparse internet service, the Army expects all emails to begin with the most important bit of information. For example, “You are required to attend an event on October 31st at 4pm”. Or, in the case of the email I received, “Last day of school for 2019/20 school year changed to May 29th”.

The expectation is that the subject line of the email and the first sentence very clearly set out the salient points of the message so that the recipient immediately knows what to do with the information. Can it safely be ignored or postponed or is this something that needs to be read and acted upon immediately?

BLUF and the nonprofit

Most leaders of volunteer organizations I’ve talked with, myself included, complain that we too often hear from our community that they missed an event or activity because they “never heard a thing about it”. This typically comes after we feel like we’ve exhausted every communication channel known to man to get the information out. Why then isn’t our message coming across?

I propose the reason is we didn’t get straight to the point.

What if, instead of sending emails the wax poetically about all our organization does and how much money we raise, and end with a plea to pay membership dues, you tried the BLUF method? It might look something like this…

“Join our organization now for $10 and help us continue to expand the good work we are doing.”

OR

“Sign up for the 5K fundraiser today at our website.”

Of course, follow that sentence up with information about all the good work you are doing or plan to do, but now, the recipient knows exactly what they are expected to do. Be sure to add a link to your web page…right up front.

Try it out and see if using the BLUF philosophy builds trust and engagement within your community.

At Mitsy, we take BLUF seriously.

  • Our web site maker is designed with BLUF in mind. Each section on the website is set up to include timely and important information. We don’t have a bunch of extra pages to sift through to get to the information your community needs.
  • Important forms and documents are stored right on the website…at the fingertips of anyone who wants to know.
  • Members are easily sorted into groups and committees to ensure the communication people get is pertinent.
  • Collecting dues & donations is priority number one for our customers, so every time someone logs in to your site, they are prompted to join or donate until they’ve done so.
  • Your store, volunteer opportunities and calendar are placed front and center on the menu bar.
  • Your calendar has a subscribe feature so your members can have your calendar on their phone or device.
  • All volunteer opportunities are listed in the same place in date order.
  • Contacting leadership is a click away for anyone using the website. And, to ensure privacy, Mitsy uses contact forms and does not provide email addresses to anyone outside your organization.

These are just a few of the ways Mitsy makes it easy to run your volunteer organization and communicate with your constituency.

Watch a short video to see how Mitsy works for your organization.