The Secret to Effective Writing for Nonprofits

In many nonprofit organizations, the powers that be want to communicate things like how unique their services are, their accomplishments, or their mission. If only people would understand all of their important initiatives, they reason, people will pay attention and take action, whether that means sharing your content, donating, or using your services.

The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the most important tenet of marketing: People don’t care about you or your services; they care about themselves and their own wants and needs. This truth is difficult for senior leaders to accept. But unless they do, they may as well be talking to a brick wall.

Think about all the messages people are exposed to in a given day—emails, Facebook, Twitter, advertisements on TV, the radio, print, or on the web. With all of these messages competing for attention, the chances of your message being ignored is high.

Yet, some messages manage to break through. Why? Because they focus on providing content that audiences wants to read. Effective nonprofit writing—like any good content—either informs, entertains, inspires, or helps your target audience solve a problem.

The secret to effective writing for nonprofits is simple: write content your audience wants to read. Yet, so many organizations fail, because they haven’t focused on their audience. How do you do this?

First, understand who your audience is. What are they interested in? What are the problems they struggle with? What are they reading? What content are they sharing on social media? What are they commenting about? What do they want to know more about? Then, write content to engage them.

Stop talking about your organization and how unique your services are. Remember, your audience is not interested in your message if it is self-serving. If you try to beat people over the head with what *you* think is important, they will tune you out. And they will continue to ignore your messages in the future.

Your goal is to become a likable, trusted resource. When people receive a message from you, they will begin to pay attention to you if you have established a pattern of providing useful information or if your message is interesting or entertaining. If you consistently do this, you have an engaged audience. Then and only then, can you begin to achieve your marketing goals.

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