An Open Letter to Nonprofit CEO

Dear Nonprofit President/CEO, it’s a new year and your nonprofit organization is going to need to raise funds to keep operations running. There will be marketing efforts of all kinds, fundraisers, crowdfunding projects, and a multitude of grant applications for specific projects and initiatives. You will probably have one of your staff members scouring GrantWatch so that you can know ahead of time all the grants that your organization is qualified for. Before you start on this process, on the journey to making sure this year’s efforts are utilized properly and so that you can get a head start on what needs to be done, here are some things that you should consider. 

It’s a new year and your nonprofit organization is going to need to raise funds to keep operations running. There will be marketing efforts of all kinds, fundraisers, crowdfunding projects, and a multitude of grant applications for specific projects and initiatives. You will probably have one of your staff members scouring GrantWatch so that you can know ahead of time all the grants that your organization is qualified for. Before you start on this process, on the journey to making sure this year’s efforts are utilized properly and so that you can get a head start on what needs to be done, here are some things that you should consider. 

Is your story being told effectively? 

Are you communicating to your intended audience in a way that feels organic and real, so that they understand your values? 

These are two very important questions that need to be addressed as the new year begins. Knowing the story behind your nonprofit, the values that you as an organization represent and what the future of your nonprofit are actually essential to the success of your mission. It’s important (or at least it should be) not only to you, but also to all the individuals, partners, donors, and recipients of your organization’s mission. Effectively telling the story and ever-evolving developments of what your nonprofit is doing can help to make all of those participating in that development feel connected to what it is you are trying to accomplish, which will inspire them to do more to help you.

Now storytelling can mean a lot of things, so where’s the easiest place to start improving on this key form of communication? 

Start with taking a look at your organization’s website, and see if it matches up with what you want to be represented to your intended audience. There’s a couple of things to consider when doing this “audit” of your nonprofit organization’s website. 

  1. Spelling and Grammar Check: Before anything else, make sure that there are no spelling mistakes throughout the copy on your organization’s website. As a copywriter, I cannot tell you how often I notice obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and improperly used capital letters in the middle of sentences. Make sure to use spell check for everything you create or invest in a tool like Grammarly to ensure that everything is as it should be. 
  2. Poorly written content throughout the website:  This is an even more frequent issue, and it’s, unfortunately, way too common to not be called out. Often times organizations don’t invest time and/or money to ensure that all the content on their website is well-written, comprehensive and that the copy is well-placed. Honestly, there are simple fixes that can make this problem considerably less of an issue even without a full re-write. 
    1. Pull all of your current copy onto a Google doc and read through it: this can help you find any immediately necessary changes and can help simplify the process. Doing this will help you with grammar and spelling as well but can also help you to spot any obvious content errors in terms of phrasing, sentence structure, and context. 
    2. Read all of your content from your website out loud: this may seem silly, but it’s actually one of my all-time favorite copy tricks and can help an insurmountable amount. Reading your copy out loud allows you to hear how the copy sounds as well as how your reader will experience it. This can lead you to better understand what edits your website needs and can assist you as you re-write the parts that need attention.  

Focusing on these two small changes can dramatically alter the conciseness of your content, which is the first step to effective storytelling. It ensures that there are fewer distractions that the reader encounters when going through your organization’s website and in turn lead to more donations to your cause. Your nonprofit organization is going to need to raise funds and what better way to maximize on this than to streamline all your processes and do every little thing possible to increase chances of receiving funds.

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