The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

6 Foolproof Tips for Great Nonprofit Content

It’s imperative to remember that our job as fundraisers is to write compelling stories that engage our donors. Creating great content is both art and science. You have a short amount of time to grab a reader’s attention and make an impression — don’t waste the opportunity by sending weak copy or robotic messaging!

Write Better Copy

Photo source: Big Stock Photo

Here are six steps you can take to improve your nonprofit content and create more interesting, readable copy:
    1. Write to one person. Having a single person or persona in mind (e.g., 60-year-old married woman with no children) when you write an appeal helps you know what to say and how to say it. Many nonprofits write to the “general public,” and that makes their copy sound vague.
    1. Use active vs. passive voice. Here’s an example of active vs. passive voice. Passive voice: “Our nonprofit is being helped by your efforts.” (Yuck!) The active-voice version would say, “Your efforts help our nonprofit.” Better, just by virtue of being written in the active voice. But better yet would be to punch it up and say, “You are kicking butt and raising lots of money for our work. Thanks!” It’s active not only in the grammatical sense, but in the general sense of the word, as well. Even unembellished, active voice is direct and powerful, and makes your message clearer.
    1. Answer these key questions. Outlines are extremely helpful when writing. Try using the outline below and answer these four questions when building your next email appeal, PowerPoint presentation, newsletter or annual report.
      • Why should I give to your cause?
      • What will my gift do?
      • Why should I give now?
      • Who else gives, and who says I should give to you?
    1. Speaking of stories … tell one! Much has been written about the persuasive power of storytelling. One of the oldest forms of narrative, stories are easier to remember than isolated figures and facts. They’re also easier to tell and naturally create an emotional connection with your supporters.
    1. Edit, edit and edit some more. If you do nothing else to improve your writing, start editing your copy, and we promise it will improve. Here’s why: Writing is not a one-shot deal. It takes a lot of refining to write clear and compelling copy. Perfect your copy by rereading it at least three times before “going to print.” Cut unnecessary adjectives, and delete entire sentences and paragraphs that distract from the story or fail to reinforce your main point.
  1. Add images. Words are just one part of a two-pronged tool set for creating great content. Images that reflect and describe your mission are equally, if not more important, as they add an emotional dimension to your content. The good news is sites like Flickr.com make it possible to find beautiful and compelling images, often for free. Make it a practice to use images in all of your content, and see what happens. Just be sure to give the proper attribution to the photographer and get permission when required.
Bad copy is bad regardless of where you use it. At best it will confuse your audience. At worst it will cause people to lose confidence in your organization. It’s worth the investment to hone your writing skills or hire someone who loves to write.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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