Tag Archives: marketing

Last time in 2015: Web Copy “Writing to Make a Difference” working session: 11/4 in San Francisco

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 is an essential part of your company’s marketing. It needs to speak to your readers their way. But actually cranking out that copy can sometimes be a challenge.  This hands-on working session is NOT just another workshop where you take time out of your busy schedule, learn about great ideas, but never implement them. Instead, it’s an opportunity to finally get that needed web copywriting project moving!

In a small group setting, you will get:

1) Initial guidance and inspiration: planning fundamentals, insights about today’s web users, web-friendly writing tips

2) Dedicated time and space to write (with prompts if you need them) or to ask specific questions of the facilitator

3) Real-time feedback from the “focus group” in the room

By working alongside your colleagues you can share ideas and motivation to finally get those webpages written. The result? You walk away with copy you can start using right away.

Bring your laptop or tablet loaded with any content you already have, and get ready to get your hands dirty (figuratively speaking)!

(BONUS: Participants are eligible for a special discount on a professional website audit.) Continue reading

Check out my latest journal article: “Watch Your Language!”

Have you heard of The Philantrepreneur Journal? Published by The Philantrepreneur Foundation, this quarterly digital publication contains informative articles on timely topics, features industry leaders, and offers great resources.

I have a full-length article In the Fall 2015 edition, titled  “Watch Your Language: Develop Messages that Speak to Today’s Readers.” Check it out on pages 26-28!

(To get you started, I reprinted the first several paragraphs below.)

Are you and your organization prepared for the big changes underway, as our world becomes more collaborative, open, and blended?

Or do you find yourself stuck in the conventional model of philanthropy: asking wealthy institutions or individuals for ‘donations’ and ‘gifts’ in closed, one-way transactions with little interaction?

Today’s social entrepreneurs are not interested in handouts, and neither are their supporters. Both groups are looking to contribute to an evolving world of partnerships, social enterprises, and even crowdfunding. They recognize that they are all components of a healthy system that turns resources into community outcomes and impacts. They each contribute unique value that makes the organization much more than the sum of its parts.

You can join this “changing landscape” by making a few simple mindset shifts, reflected in the words you use. (Hint: You’ll find some of these keywords in italics below.)

I’m talking about a new way of thinking about and expressing our collective place in the world. That is, a new kind of positioning, outreach, marketing.

But before we get there, let’s clarify that “marketing” is not a nasty word or a sleazy necessary evil (read: snake oil salesmanship). Rather, it’s about entering into an exchange where everyone wins. When you express such an exchange in writing, I becomes all about sharing information and passion about your work with interested readers so that they, your clients, and your larger community can all benefit. Through this exchange, you will have become true partners in the endeavor.

Your job is to show that your organization is a trustworthy, inspirational partner. And you need to demonstrate how your reader’s investment (of money and/or time) will get real results that they can be proud of.

To do that, your copywriting must position your work as cutting-edge. It must start to engage new and varied audiences. And it must help your organization become a respected thought leader in your field.

I call it the ABCs of Copywriting for the Social Sector:

Read the rest of the article on pages 26-28…

3/14 Writing Wednesday on storytelling (get the recording!)

Do you share stories to help illuminate your organization’s work? You might find stories in your proposals, reports, website content, newsletter, or other pieces you have written.

This week we discussed how we use storytelling in our documents. I offered some tips on:

  • The importance of stories
  • What you need to include in  your stories
  • What are some ways to tell stories compellingly?

We also reviewed this week’s submission, an appeal letter that included a story of how a troubled client progressed into the next stage of her life.

You can hear the recording and download the submitted piece in the Writing Wednesdays Archive.

Want to help shape future Writing Wednesdays? Take a moment to fill out a 2-question survey to ensure that Writing Wednesdays address YOUR most pressing writing challenges.

FYI, the next Writing Wednesdays will be held on April 4 and 18. Starting in April, they will be held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.


Free Writing Wednesdays started Feb. 29: Leap Day (listen in!)



I was excited to begin Writing Wednesdays on February 29! I shared some tips about writing for the web and then we reviewed some nonprofit websites that had both great ideas and things we would change. You can listen to the recording right HERE. In fact, all Writing Wednesdays will be recorded and put online for all to share.

The idea behind this free weekly series is to offer an easy way for you to get feedback and share your thoughts about writing with many others. Together, we are building what I call a “writing-positive” culture. Often, our colleagues are just too busy to offer the attention, support, and constructive criticism we need to grow as writers. Writing Wednesdays will change all that.

In my decades of experience as a writer I have found two major ways to improve: practice and feedback. At your socially responsible organization, you probably find many opportunities to practice. But are they coupled with juicy feedback?

Too often, we find ourselves alone as writers, and we really could use some community. If only we could exchange ideas and try out new techniques…

Well, now you can! And it’s FREE!  You can have that experience every Writing Wednesday! Students in my classes absolutely love our feedback sessions, and now I’m offering the opportunity online.

You can hear a bit about my work and a description of Writing Wednesdays right HERE.

Here’s how it works:

1) Sign up for the Writing Wednesday community on the right-hand side of this page.

2) Receive info on how to submit a document you’re working on. We’ll be looking at different types of written pieces, so you’re bound to find something that will work. All submissions are due on Mondays at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.  Remember that all submissions will be public, so make sure to delete anything you’d rather not publicize.

Here’s the topic lineup for the first 3 Writing Wednesdays:

Feb. 29: Websites (especially home pages): See the archive here.

March 7: Letters of Inquiry for institutional funders (foundations, corporations, etc.): submissions due March 5

March 14: Sharing stories (in any document format): submissions due March 12

If you don’t have a piece to upload right now but would still like to listen in, please call in on Wednesday!

3) On Tuesday you will receive an email inviting you to review all of the pieces submitted, especially the 1 or 2 that I have selected to discuss on our Writing Wednesday conference call. This will give you the opportunity to read what others have submitted and make comments on the document itself (online, using Google Docs).

4) Writing Wednesday at 12 p.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. Mountain, 2 p.m. Central, 3 p.m. Eastern), you call in to hear my Writing Tip of the Week and my thoughts about the selected piece(s). You’ll also have the opportunity to offer your feedback to the writer(s). You will get to learn from all of the feedback, and we may even feature your piece in that week’s spotlight! The calls will be recorded and placed on the website, so you can listen again at your convenience. You can expect the calls to last 45-60 minutes.

Want to join us? Please sign up on the right-hand side of this page.

Questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll post an answer.

Talk to you soon!

Have you advanced your organization’s mission today?

Have you advanced your organization’s mission today? Your readers are eager to know about it!

Every outreach or fundraising piece you write needs to speak to your organization’s reason for existing in the first place. That is, each page should remind your readers that you never forget what you set out to do in your community.

Every values-driven organization has a specific mission to make a positive difference in the world. My guess is that you already know what yours is. You may not have memorized your official mission statement, but you are clear on the essence of your organization. Your mission, after all, is a key part of your organization’s brand.

To your readers, your mission (or perhaps some particular aspect of it) is the heart of the matter. They want to hear that it is central to everything you do. They want to know that your work continues to be relevant to their lives and the life of their community, even as times and circumstances change.

There is no shame in reminding yourself of your organization’s mission statement once in a while. Some people I know even plaster it on the wall or make it their screensaver to keep it at the top of the mind and on the tip of the tongue.

Your mission should inspire and motivate support and commitment from those who share your concerns. Your organization’s name alone should cause your mission to spring to mind.

However, if you — and your colleagues — do not revisit your mission statement regularly, and ideally fine-tune or update it on occasion, you can get stuck in out-of-date patterns of branding. This is true for both start-up organizations (whose missions are usually still evolving) and more established groups. For instance, a client organization of mine had focused for decades on the needs of all low-income families, but recent demographic changes in their county compelled them to focus on new immigrants, with the associated cultural and linguistic challenges.

Even more dangerously, if you are not careful to monitor your work in light of your mission, your organization could easily lose its sense of direction. The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland summarized why you need a strong, relevant mission: “If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Of course, your readers might not come out and ask, “What is your mission?” Instead, they might want to know what you do (how you benefit your clients and the community), how you do it (products and services featured in your work), and why you exist at all (why you are needed).

Help them out by frequently reminding them of your goals and how you are consistently making progress toward them. You cannot assume that your readers will instantly recall who you are or exactly what you do — and that includes both die-hard supporters/patrons and casual online surfers who may have stumbled across your website. But repetition will certainly help!

Here are some tips for maintaining a focus on mission in your copy… (Read more on the GIFT Exchange blog)


Please join me and the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) on September 13th for my webinar, “Writing to Make a Difference: How to Create Fundraising & Outreach Materials that Get Results.” Click here or give Ryan Li a call at 888-458-8588 X301 to register or for more info.