How to Write Well: Trusted Resources for Nonprofits and Foundations

We are lucky here at Prichard. We’re lucky because we’ve got a smarter portfolio of clients than we could ever have dreamed–and among all those smart clients are people who wow me–consistently–with their intelligence. I often think, “I can’t believe I’m in the same room with her!”

These people move mountains. They part seas. They alter the very fabric of our society for the better–between the time they wake up and the time they eat lunch. Every day. Maybe you’re one of them?

But mountains and seas aside, I’ve noticed a trend among some of these social innovators…these provocative changemakers…these dynamos of philanthropy. They might know how to conquer some of the world’s biggest problems but they often struggle to be effective at communicating with their internal and external target audiences: staff, peers, partners, funders, individual donors.

And any nonprofit executive director or foundation communications officer knows that failing at communications can be catastrophic to your growth and sustainability over the long term. If you can’t motivate your staff, if you can’t raise money, if you can’t recruit partners, how are you going to change the world?

Oh don’t get me wrong—they try to get their messages out there , but often even their simplest messages come across as scientific white papers, inadvertent yelling or confusing diatribes, rather than clear, concise thoughts that inspire audiences to take action.

They’re communicating in their own way–they’re just not communicating in a way that helps them Win Friends and Influence People.

They bury their headlines or don’t write them at all. They use improper punctuation. They wax poetic about time sensitive activities. They forget to make ‘the ask.’ They’re talking alright… but no one is listening.

Sound like you or someone you know? (It’s okay, I’ll never tell!)

Dig up YOUR inner change maker—YOUR inner world saver and share with them Team Prichard’s favorite resources for effective communications (traditional and/or online)—you might end up with a nicely written thank you note in your near future!

1. [Book]: Writing That Works: How to Communicate Effectively in Business, Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

2. [E-Newsletter]: Wiley’s Writing Tips

3. [Book]: A Quick and Not So Dirty Guide to Business Writing, Charles Marsh (Note: Dated but the basics persevere. This was my “bible” during college and remains so today.)

4. [Website]: “Jargon Finder” The Communications Network

5. [Book]: On Writing Well, William Zinsser

6. [Book]: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss

7. [Book, Style Guide]: The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White

8. [Website]: “Grammar Girl,” Quick and Dirty Tips

9. [Blog]: “Copyblogger

10. [E-Book]: 52 Headline Hacks, John Morrow

11. [Website]: “Purdue Online Writing Lab,” Purdue University

What did I miss? What resources help you be more effective in communicating? Let me know in the comments.

 

Jennie Day-Burget

Former Vice President and Managing Director Jennie Day-Burget is a lover of surprises, wine and chevron (the pattern, not the oil company). Jennie has worked in communications and public relations for more than a decade and cites the hashtag (#) as her favorite communications innovation.
Read more posts by

Share your thoughts