You may have seen this image online. Did you initially notice the strategic placement of the comma and the huge difference it makes?
I have to admit, I like this kind of stuff. It’s mildly humorous and it makes a point (um…no pun intended). Punctuation can be a serious matter. Not using it correctly can have dire consequences.
Here’s another of my favorites from the Internet. Ponder away!
Love Letter to John?
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
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
(Creative Commons photo license)
Q: What’s the danger in misusing hyperbole?
A: While we all like to think that our work is unique, essential, and groundbreaking, that can’t always be the case. (I think of the phrase from A Prairie Home Companion, “where the children are all above average.”)
It behooves you as a socially responsible changemaker to get your facts straight and do your research; exaggeration has no place in your writing. You certainly don’t want your readers to doubt your integrity or knowledge of your field if they learn you’re not telling the whole truth.
Of course, If extensive research tells you that you are the only/best/least expensive/most effective/largest (etc.) organization doing your work in the way you are doing it, by all means tell the world about it. Just stay away from claims that seem too good to be true (what a turn-off!).
In all other cases, take the time to qualify your statements. Temper the temptation to go overboard. Look for the unique part of what you do and focus on that distinction — in an honest and clear way. For example, maybe you’re the only one in your geographic area making a specific community change. Perhaps you specialize in a particular population within your larger field. If you are contributing a major piece of the puzzle in your field, but your partners also form part of the solution, take them into account and share the credit.
Keep it real and always be mindful of your credibility.
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
I, like many people, do my share of year-end giving to my favorite nonprofits in December. Of course, December and January are usually super-busy times of year for folks who process all of those donations!
I was pleased to receive some very grateful and thoughtful thank you notes from the organizations I supported. I wanted to share one specific letter that stood out. It comes from my local food bank, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, to be exact. You can see a copy of it below:
It starts out expressing gratitude and welcoming me to their community, and goes on to briefly explain what my contribution will do.
Notice that it has a large photo of a child in the upper-right corner and the letter talks a bit about her, a representative of their clients.
This one-pager is short, simple, sweet, and to the point. It also lists the tax ID number at the bottom, as well as the address and affiliations.
That’s all pretty standard best practice.
The most interesting part was the PS and the insert that came with it. Continue reading