woman-typing-writing-windowsWhether it’s the next a post for your NFP’s blog, an email expressing gratitude, or a heartfelt appeal for the next fundraising drive, you need to have excellent writing skills to create compelling copy that connects with your readers and convinces them to act.

Being a great writer doesn’t come naturally to anyone. Even the most famous novelists find the well runs dry from time to time when it comes to inspiration and choosing just the right words. Writing is a skill that can be improved, however, with a lot of practice and determination.

The following tips will help you sharpen your writing, so you can create content that others want to read and enjoy!

Don’t Just ‘Jump Right In’ – Have a Plan

Adopting a conversational tone in your writing adds a human touch to your copy, but you must be careful not to go overboard and just ramble. Before you begin writing, have a plan.

Get started by making a brief outline. Start with your topic and the main idea. The next few paragraphs should contain the critical thoughts that expand on your main subject. Conclude with a call to action for the reader.

Stick to the Basics

Make sure that your title and opening lines grab the attention of your readers. Be careful not to confuse your reader with insider jargon. Use concise and straightforward language to get your points across. While you do want to include language that allows readers to feel the importance of the work you’re your nonprofit does in your community, you should also avoid wearing out your readers with content that is too long.

Aim for readers to be able to read, and understand, your post within five minutes or so. Anything longer and you run the risk of them becoming distracted or board, and the temptation to turn to other content, elsewhere, will be impossible for them to avoid. Make your copy easy to read by including lots of white space. Break up large blocks of text into smaller ones that are visually easier to scan and comprehend.

Always go back and proofread your copy to ensure that it complies with the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Coming Up with Topics to Write About

Deciding what to write about is almost always the top concern of most writers. Sometimes, the reason why you are writing will create the topic itself, such as the need to write thank you notes, or fundraising pleas. In instances like these, you should look for ways to personalise your writing to create a connection with the reader. For example, writing about the impact of the donation is almost always well received in these situations.

Deciding on a topic for an article or blog post is a bit more difficult because you have so many topics to choose from. The following ideas can help you narrow down your list of possibilities.

Write with Purpose

Most folks who read articles do so for one of three reasons: to learn something, to be entertained, or both. So, look for topics that will allow you to accomplish one of these three goals in your posts.

Answer their Questions

Try to discover the questions and subject matter that is on the minds of the members of your target audience. Your organisation, for example, might receive a lot of emails and other forms of contact asking the same question—so why not create a post that answers this and other questions?

Understand Your Audience and Their Focus

Research your target audience and their interactions on various social media channels – what do they talk about? What types of topics do they comment on frequently? Look for ways that you can address these same topics in a meaningful way in a post.

What do your staff and volunteers talk about in the office? What type of feedback do you receive from your donors? What do your beneficiaries have to say about the programs and services that you provide? What do your board members wish others knew about your nonprofit and its goals? Each of these subjects would make an excellent topic for a post.

What Google keywords apply to your specific nonprofit and its work? Find ways to contribute to the conversation by using popular keywords as your topics.

Emotional Connection is a Critical Ingredient

Regardless of what topic you pick to write about, don’t forget about the importance of personal connection. Add a human touch to your storytelling, so that you aren’t just informing your readers. Wherever possible, search for ways to stir you reader’s emotions with your descriptions and word choices so that they “see” and understand your cause and your organisation’s work with their heart as well as their mind.

Don’t Forget to Respond and Follow Up

Regardless of the type of copy that you’ve written, always be on the lookout for a response from your readers, and follow up. If they leave comments on your post, reply quickly and make an effort to keep the conversation going. If someone replies to an email or other communication with a question or other comment, always follow up as soon as possible to encourage greater engagement and feedback.