Do you write text (copy) for a social sector organization? I’m talking about a nonprofit, social enterprise, or similar group that has a social mission.
If so, you undoubtedly have a lot on your mind. What is the organization’s brand strategy? Who are its target markets? How can you explain the benefits it brings to the community?
It’s also your job to help the organization share information and enthusiasm about its work with interested people who may want to exchange their support (money, time, etc.) for the value the organization adds.
In the social sector, copywriting serves a dual purpose. It aims to both:
A) Promote the organization as part of the solution to a social or environmental problem: It may work with community partners as part of a continuum of care or service, or in a coalition arrangement. If you understand how the organization fits into the mix, you can help identify its uniqueness and special contribution.
B) Educate readers about key things they need to know: This is especially true if the organization deals with a complex, poorly understood problem that involves many processes or actors. Remember that most of your readers are not specialists in your area, and they are looking to you for explanations.
With these two goals in mind, you can move beyond common areas of copywriting confusion. A few reminders:
1. Remember to ask “so what?” about the organization’s work: Although you and your colleagues already appreciate the benefits of your work, your readers may not. Get beyond the “What do you do?” question and answer, “Why do you do it? What difference does it make for your community?”
2. Don’t focus on “we”: Socially conscious organizations need to look at things from their readers’ point of view, focusing on their personal values, needs, and interests.
3. Engage both head and heart: Your organization may tend to focus on facts or statistics, but readers will often remember most how you make them feel. So you want to share both information and emotional content, and prompt a personal experience that motivates action.
4. Cultivate conciseness: Others at your organization may believe that absolutely everything is of equal importance. It is your job to help them distill and extract the most critical elements of their message or story. We know that people today often skim more than read.
Looking for more tips, examples, and exercises? Check out Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.