Category Archives: Editing

Ask Dalya: First person or third person in grant proposals?

Question: I’m working on a grant application, and I find myself referring to our organization both in the third person and the first person.  The third person sounds more professional, and I feel more comfortable “bragging” about our accomplishments in the third person.  But the first person sounds warmer and more personal, and I think it tends to convey greater ownership/passion. Which approach should I take?

Answer: This is a common situation, and there is no hard and fast rule about  it. I have seen both.

Personally, I tend to go mostly with the first person but use the organization’s acronym when it seems feasible and appropriate (not to overdo the “we”, to get the funder familiar with the organization’s name, and to sound official).

By the way, your focus should be more on what you do for and with the community and less on you, as much as possible. The third/first person issue should not be that big of a deal; don’t let it disrupt your flow.

PS: You can find more “”Ask Dalya” questions and answers HERE.

Why is it so hard to proofread your own work? Read this.

Thanks to my friends at the Bay Area Editors’ Forum, I just learned of a great Wired.com article called “What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos.” The article offers some of the science behind that all-too-common malady.

The piece quotes psychologist Tom Stafford, a researcher at the UK’s University of Sheffield: “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high-level task.” And your brain temporarily concentrates on that task to the exclusion of other ones, such as accurate typing.

Essentially, when you’re writing you’re in what I call the “creative” phase. And well you should be! Get it all out and do your best to say what you want to say.

Then switch to the “editing” phase. You can find lots of advice about that in a former blog post of mine HERE. Here’s one of those tips: Continue reading

9/8 Interactive Webinar: Copywriting for the Web — Today’s Best Practices

You’re a professional in the nonprofit or social-mission business world. And I know you have a website. But could it be more effective?

Join the many others who have already benefited from my workshops on web copywriting! This time I’m offering it as an interactive webinar that anyone can attend: Thursday, September 8, via the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership. Here’s the description:

Copywriting for the Web — Today’s Best Practices

Have you been putting off making needed changes to your website copy? Not sure what will make the most impact? Need some detailed feedback?

Of course, you know that your website forms an essential part of your organization’s marketing. It needs to deliver compelling content that your readers eagerly engage with. The words and pictures have to jump off the screen and meet your readers where they are. But actually cranking out that copy can sometimes be a challenge.

This webinar will offer you plenty of tips and techniques to make sure your content is web reader-friendly, while it stresses your community impact.

Takeaways:

  • 3 planning fundamentals that help you get the results you want
  • What you need to know about today’s web users
  • How to ensure website usability & accessibility
  • Intro to Search Engine Optimization
  • Recommended resources on the web

Continue reading

Chronicle of Philanthropy: Keep Jargon Out of Fundraising Appeals

One recent morning a very interesting email came across my desk. It was from a reporter at the Chronicle of Philanthropy: Could I offer any words of wisdom about jargon in nonprofit fundraising appeals?

Hmm…where shall I begin?

My thoughts, combined with those of other experts in the field, came out in an article published earlier this month. While only subscribers can read the full text, you can start with this excerpt:

Stakeholder. Leverage. Consensus building. Paradigm shift. These are just a few of the words and phrases that drive some communications experts crazy when they pop up in fundraising appeals.

Such jargon tells potential donors next to nothing. And as people’s attention spans grow shorter, a direct-mail letter or an email littered with such phrases may fall flat with the people you want to reach.

Jargon often creeps into fundraising appeals because the authors become too comfortable with office parlance. They forget to think about whether people outside of the organization will understand the letter, email, tweet, or Facebook post. Continue reading