Category Archives: Book Excerpts

National Proofreading Day This Week: Get Beyond Typos.

March 8 was National Proofreading Day. Wow! A whole day just for acknowledging the importance of proofreading and encouraging error-free writing.

While perfection is actually not humanly possible, striving for it is always a good idea. That is, especially when you are trying to project a polished, professional image. And I know that as a changemaker, you definitely are!

Detailed proofreading makes your work stand out from the crowd. If you think your computer’s spell-checker is all you need to catch your every error, think again. If only things were that simple!

Final proofreading is actually harder than it looks. You have to keep in mind dozens and dozens of grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules. And you are still bound to miss things on your first go-round.

Here are some of my favorite tips to make your proofing task less draining: Continue reading

Describe Your Unique Role in Collaborative Efforts

fabric threads[Dalya’s Note: This is an excerpt from my award-winning book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.]

You may recall my post about the value of collaboration. Today I want to talk about the importance of carving out a unique niche for your organization in those collaborative efforts.

Your work to advance your organization’s unique brand involves illustrating how you contribute essential threads to your community’s interwoven fabric. You serve as a crucial resource and contributor to social and/or environmental responsibility.

Collaboration combines your organization’s power with that of other organizations that share your values, in a strategic effort to benefit a larger number of people than you could alone.

Ask yourself: How does your work fit into the larger picture of your community’s well-being?

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Maximize Your Organization’s Collaborations and Reap the Benefits

partnership[Dalya’s Note: This is an excerpt from my award-winning book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.]

Given the astronomical proliferation of values-driven organizations in the last few decades, many of our readers are wondering: “How come you all don’t just combine forces?”

Good question.

No one—investors, customers, clients, etc.—likes to see duplication of effort among barely distinguishable parties. It certainly makes marketing and branding a tougher job as well!

But we are so passionate and concerned about our own sub-issues, services, and products that we can neglect the potential allies out there. In fact, instead of finding ways to cooperate, we often adopt a competitive attitude.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am the first to agree that healthy competition keeps organizations on their toes. What I bemoan is the frequent tendency to allow narrow organizational interests (such as maintaining the status quo or protecting fragile egos) to take precedence over larger community interests. Continue reading

Describe how your work embodies your deepest values and guiding principles

principles[Dalya’s Note: This is an excerpt from my award-winning book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.]

Back away from the practical specifics, and take a bit of a philosophical approach.

Ask_yourselfAsk yourself: What fundamental values or concerns have led your readers to your organization and its mission?

For instance, you and your readers might particularly value the physical and emotional health of young women; the dignity of refugees; the artistic expression of senior citizens; the conservation of wildlife in your region; the science education of middle school students; or waterways free of pollution.

Because of your shared values, you can make some basic assumptions about what your readers understand and agree on. In your written pieces, build on those assumptions about what works, what does not work, and what important beliefs should be upheld. You will naturally hit on the core thoughts and feelings your readers harbor, as they pertain to your mission and activities.

Ask_yourselfAsk yourself: How would your organization complete this sentence to clarify shared assumptions about the world, how it works, and what is important?

“Our organization focuses on ______ and we value ________________ . We believe our work is important in the world because ______________ .”

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Evoke a vision of your success

success[Dalya’s Note: This is an excerpt from my award-winning book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.]

Your readers want to be inspired by the world you would like to see. Your organization, of course, will play a role in realizing that vision—so help your readers visualize it right now.

Ask_yourselfAsk yourself: If your organization were to meet with great success and fully accomplish its mission, what would that look like?

You may want to ask this simple question of your colleagues as well. Perhaps your organization even has a formal “vision statement.”



Here are a few vision statements of values-based organizations:

1) Foundation Center: A world enriched by the effective allocation of philanthropic resources, informed public discourse about philanthropy, and broad understanding of the contributions of nonprofit activity to increasing opportunity and transforming lives.

2) Global Exchange:  We envision a people centered globalization that values the rights of workers and the health of the planet; that prioritizes international collaboration as central to ensuring peace; and that aims to create a local, green economy designed to embrace the diversity of our communities.


You might also develop a more informal image of what you are working toward. For instance, some organizations have held community gatherings or stakeholder retreats to paint murals or assemble collages representing the world they want to create.

Continue reading