Category Archives: Writing Wednesdays

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 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

Writing Wednesdays in December: Donor Thank You Letters Reviewed



A thank you letter can be either an administrative exercise or a powerful way to connect with your donors.  If it is done right, it will increase the likelihood that donors will continue to give, and say yes when you invite them to get more involved.  On this podcast we discussed 6 jobs that a thank you letter does, as well as several attributes of a good thank you letter.

We also reviewed these 5 Sample Thank You Letters and pointed out strengths and weaknesses.

paul jolly headshotOur Special Guest was Paul Jolly of JumpStart Growth. Paul worked as a fund raising professional for over 20 years before starting the consulting firm Jump Start Growth.  He began his career serving several Quaker institutions in one-person development offices, then moved to The Wilderness Society, where he was a one of six major gift officers.  His last job before launching Jump Start Growth was at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.  In every instance, he has zeroed in on gifts from individuals at the top of the giving pyramid.  The focus of Paul’s consulting work is bringing sophisticated major gifts fund raising practices to organizations that are ready for dramatic expansion. His successes include leading three capital campaigns for organizations new to major gifts fund raising, securing millions of dollars in bequest and planned gift commitments, and bringing a laser-sharp focus on donors and increased vitality to small development departments. He is a regular contributor to the Guidestar blog, and is a popular workshop leader. Paul has a BA in English from the University of Maryland and is a not-yet-published poet.

Special Offer: If you would like a copy of the two articles that Paul mentioned on the podcast (on Acknowledging Gifts and The Sequence of Prospect Cultivation), please email him at:

Find the December 2014 podcast in the ARCHIVE.


Writing Wednesdays: Top 12 Traits of a Good Grantwriter


Writing Wednesdays are your opportunity to get essential writing tips and advice on a wide range of documents you are asked to write. My goal is to help YOU improve your pieces and better engage your readers! You’ll hear from me each month, and sometime I am joined by a Special Guest who is also involved in “writing to make a difference.”

This month’s topic: Top 12 Traits of a Good Grantwriter

I’ve spoken to many people who either want to up their game as a grantwriter, or are thinking about entering the field. I’ve met them through my Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program or one of the many webinars, workshops, or keynotes I have presented in the last several years.

If you’re thinking along these same lines, ask yourself if you have the 12 characteristics it takes to shine.

Want to hear more? I went in depth on several of these traits in my recent keynote address on a similar topic.

Happy writing!


Want more feedback on Letters of Intent? Check this out.

NP webinar_grant feedback clinic

I recently offered a free webinar called the Grant Proposal Feedback Clinic, and featured it in my September newsletter.

In fact, the webinar was so popular that I have already gotten requests to repeat it. While I don’t plan to offer the feedback webinar again in the near future, I have some good news.

You can get recordings of Writing Wednesdays recordings in which I work with a group to provide feedback on a range of Letters of Intent to foundations. Just go to the Archive and click on recordings from 2/6/13, 2/20/13, and 2/15/14. They recordings are only 99 cents each.

Also, the Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program will offer 6 weeks of training, practice, and feedback on this topic. It all starts on October 13. And the Early Bird Discount is good through October 3!


6/4: (FREE) Writing Wednesdays: Tips to Speed Up Your Writing


Time. Everyone wants more of it, but it seems to slip away faster every year.

In your socially responsible organizations, time is the one commodity that may be even scarcer than money. And even if you are rolling in dough, I am sure you want to be as efficient as you can be.

Writing is a craft like any other: you need to take the time to develop your skills and hone your work into masterpieces. However, in our line of work, other pressing priorities—such as serving your clients, meeting new investors, or organizing your community around your issues—may seem much more urgent. Interestingly, though, all of those other tasks involve some kind of writing. So working on your writing efficiency can actually help you do all of your work faster.

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