20 Tips to Energize Dull Nonprofit Writing

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Is your writing dry and boring? Eliminating jargon and overall wordiness is a great place to start, but here are 20 more ways that you can bring your writing back to life. Then go back and write. Make the reason you are writing crystal clear.

Write Better than Ever Before

Getting Attention

You can get it all with Jeff Brooks’ Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing. You’ll learn and laugh as you gobble your way through this guide to writing good—then great—messages that spur the actions you need. Overwhelmed by a huge writing to-do list for right-now campaigns, the annual report, and probably some special projects thrown in just because we don’t have enough to do.

Trending Sources

Write Your Way to Connection & Action

Getting Attention

Then learn and laugh as you gobble your way through Jeff Brooks’ new guide to writing great nonprofit content: How to Turn Your Words Into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing. Here are a few of Jeff’s more surprising steps to message magic: Your high school English teacher would HATE your most effective writing because it breaks almost every rule he taught you.

How NOT to write a letter to your supporter community


Our entire University Relations staff — now led by Peter Weiler, our new Vice President of University Relations — worked tirelessly to make the goal a reality. Learn how to write appeal letters to major donors that raise money. Here’s an old letter from my alma mater.

Appeal Letter Writing 101

Ann Green

Let’s get back to basics with a little appeal letter writing 101. If you can’t get them to do that, then all your hard work has gone to waste. Highlight a few accomplishments from the year and show how you plan to continue your good work with your donor’s help. Generally, the more people you involve in writing your letter, the worse it becomes. Fundraising Consultant Tom Ahern refers to this as letter writing by committee.

Nonprofit Writing Prompts for September

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

and haven’t quite figured out your content calendar for next month, then use these prompts for your blog posts, social media updates or newsletter articles for next month taken from our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts Email Newsletter : On the Calendar.

The Inner Game of Writing Your Appeal Letter: Part 2

Wild Woman Fundraising

How should you write your appeal letter? So how can you write something simultaneously real, and lively, and on a level that most people can understand? Do you have a way you get yourself in the space to write? Now let’s get down to brass tacks.

Do you have bad boundaries?

Wild Woman Fundraising

So I wanted to ask you since we’ve both had fundraising jobs and worked in nonprofits for a long time, what happens when people who work at nonprofits don’t have good boundaries? SG: Well, I think boundary issues, there’s really no separating work from life.

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Need Ideas? Here Are Our Writing Prompts for April

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

At the start of each month, we send at least 10 writing prompts to the subscribers of our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts E-Newsletter to get them thinking about articles, stories, press releases, blog posts, Facebook updates, letters, and other content for the following month.

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Need Writing Ideas? Try These Prompts

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

At the start of each month, we send at least 10 writing prompts (usually more) to the subscribers of our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts E-Newsletter. Source of the Month – other places to find writing inspiration.

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I am learning how to write. How about you?

Wild Woman Fundraising

I am always learning how to write. For right now, for example, I feel like I’ve got appeal letters nailed, but I’m learning how to write a screenplay. In our nonprofits, we have to write all the time. Some will work, and some won’t. It was hard to write.

How MarketSmart Works With Partners


People often ask me, “How does MarketSmart work with partners (allies) to help nonprofits lower costs and increase revenues?” So, today I thought I’d explain how we work with consultants, consulting firms, direct marketing agencies, CRM software companies and others. Most of our partners don’t know much about writing code and building technological innovations. Do you work for a CRM or other software company?

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Why I’m Working with Bloomerang

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

So it was sort of a big deal, at least in my own head, when I started talking to Jay Love , the CEO of Bloomerang , about working together. In late 2012, Jay decided to create a new kind of donor management and fundraising software, this one with best practices baked right into how it worked. Jay’s work with Tom led him to me. Much of what we talk about at Nonprofit Marketing Guide requires software to do well.

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Interview Questions to Help You Write Great Donor, Volunteer, and Client Profiles for Your Newsletters

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

To write a good profile about a client, donor, volunteer or other supporter of your nonprofit organization, you need to see several sides of that person. Ten questions should give you enough to write a great profile. What has surprised you most about working with (Nonprofit or Cause)?

Nonprofit Writing Prompts for August

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

But now you are less than two weeks away from August and have no idea what you are gonna write about. Here are some ideas for blog posts, social media updates or newsletter articles for next month taken from our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts Email Newsletter : On the Calendar.

How to Recognize and Manage Different Work Styles

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Pacific) Carson Tate , author of Work Simply, will join us for a FREE webinar – Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style. During the webinar, Carson will discuss how to prioritize your work based on the way you think and process information.

Stay Focused at Work: 4 Ideas You Can Try

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Pick just one and see if using it every day for a week helps you feel more focused at work. If you bounce from call to email to writing to meeting to interruptions to meeting to email, try this.

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Reader Questions: Are you being bullied at work? What can you do?

Wild Woman Fundraising

This work draws on policies that they have put in place to protect their workers. What we want to work towards is getting enough attention around it to change policies and make sure bullies learn that they can’t continue their bad behavior. How can you resist manipulation at work?

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Writing Prompts for March

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Here are a few writing prompts to get you thinking creatively about March topics. If you were on our Nonprofit Writing Prompts email list, you would have received these a month ago. Lots to work with here, which brings us to our metaphor for the month.

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How does an appeal letter edit work?

Wild Woman Fundraising

I decided to re-write the whole letter. She also began to hire people to do things around her house and was being over charged for the work they did. The reasons vary: bills and expenses may exceed their income; overspending on unnecessary items; forgetting to pay bills; or writing the checks and then not mailing them. We work with landlords, utility companies and other creditors to arrange payment plans. How does an appeal letter edit work?

Finally, you can learn what words work to raise money!


Last year I worked with Dr. Russell James to present his findings in the ground-breaking webinar titled Words that Work (get the quick-read eBook here ). If you want to see the whole Words that Work webinar, you can check out the recording here.

Op Eds: Writing Leads that Grab Readers by the Lapels

Getting Attention

Guest bloggerMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. That’s the test of whether a lead works.

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Put Shakespeare’s Storytelling Skills to Work for Your Nonprofit

Getting Attention

John-Stevenson Nonprofit Communications writingGuest blogger Kim St. John-Stevenson is the communications officer at the St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, and a dedicated advocate for funding nonprofit skill building in Communications. “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

A winning formula to write your appeal letter

Wild Woman Fundraising

For the last month I’ve been writing you posts and showing you examples and giving you free webinars all about what makes a good appeal letter. If you’ve read the posts above, then you already know that y ou’ve got to write a short story and lead with the most dramatic thing.

The Inner Game of Writing Your Appeal Letter: Part 1

Wild Woman Fundraising

Have you ever felt, “Geez, I work hard, but my writing muscles don’t want to flex today! Especially now, I’ve got to write this appeal letter, and it’s just not FLOWING man!&#. So, how do you get in the groove to write this thing?

Write Four Stories

The Agitator

I like this story-writing exercise recommended by Leah Eustace at Good Works. After reminding us why storytelling is so important to fundraising, Leah suggests four stories to write: Write the story of the people who founded your organization. Interview the Chair of your Board and write a story about why she volunteers so much time and energy to the cause. And as Leah says … always write about why.

11 Tips On How to Write Original Appeal Letters

Wild Woman Fundraising

How can you be brave and stand up and write something different than has been tried before? Take out the first three paragraphs you write. Read before you write. They help you write in short sentences, and write like your character’s life depends on it.

Size Matters – When to Write Long, or Short

Getting Attention

It’s not surprising to see that, in most cases, short copy works better for low-commitment, low-risk actions that are emotionally- and/or impulse-driven (I want). Eureka!

Quick Reminders about Writing Real from Claire

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

She is doing some really great work helping nonprofits talk about planned giving in very easy-going, fun, and natural ways — and if she can do that for planned giving topics (read=the really dry, boring stuff), she can do it for anything! Write to an audience of one.

Three thoughts on writing

Nonprofit Marketing Blog

I love and hate to write. Here are three pieces of advice based on my daily struggle with blogging, fiction and work-related writing. Writing is that way - casting you forever in the role of novice, whether you enjoy it or not. If you write something that makes you want to hide or erase, keep going straight to that feeling. This is the work of writing. Write what you want to read, say what must, lay down what matters to you.

Reader Questions: Does adding extra stuff your appeal mailing work?

Wild Woman Fundraising

You can include other things like postcards and bookmarks, but you have to test and see if these work for YOUR donors, not just take someone’s word that they work for ALL donors. Did I use the pen to write on the card?

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Writing Your Own Direct Mail Appeal Letter This Year? You Got This!

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Learn more and decide which option will work best for you. Think your in-house created direct mail appeal doesn’t stand a chance against the big boys? Think again. You don’t need to hire a firm in order to have a successful appeal letter.

Five Tips for Writing a Four-Page Nonprofit Annual Report

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Write an annual report that. “How to Write a. Most professional writers will tell you that writing really good short articles and profiles is harder than writing long ones, and the same can be true for short annual reports.

Grant Writing Work, Jobs, and Contractors

Seeking Grant Money Today

Perhaps you're considering a new career and want to look into writing grant proposals for a living. This is actually how I got into professional grant writing and fundraising. I was intrigued by grassroots work. Based on what I said I enjoyed in grad school she encouraged me to look into grant writing. If this sounds like work that you'd enjoy and if the required skills are ones that you pride yourself on having and enjoy using, then read on!

Writing a strategic social media engagement plan

Public Sector Marketing 2.0

I often get asked how I structure my actual written strategic social media engagement plans when working with a public sector or non-profit organization. In truth, when it comes down to actually writing a deliverable for a client, even details such as the report style, format, length and the sections I use vary considerably. Writing a really solid executive summary.

Nonprofit Writing Prompts for March

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Use these prompts taken from our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts Email Newsletter for your blog posts, social media updates or newsletter articles. (If Social Work Month. How is your work like these things? Haven’t quite filled in your content calendar for next month?

Are You Working on CX?

The Agitator

The Agitator and colleagues like Ken Burnett have been writing heaps about customer/donor experience, hoping to establish that how nonprofits engage with their donors is as important to their fundraising success as it is to corporations engaging customers effectively for business success.

Op Ed Writing Made Easy: Ideas for a Basic Structure

Getting Attention

Margot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. There is no formula for writing an op ed. You could write stream of consciousness and it could be terrific.

Write Your Own Appeal Letter and Raise More [Starts Next Week]

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

If you want to write a direct mail appeal letter that will blow your supporters away (and raise more money), join us next week for: Writing Successful Direct Mail Appeal Letters In-House. If you want to write your best appeal letter ever in 2016, join us next week!

Better Microcontent: Writing in Small Places – Free Webinar

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

The term “microcontent” refers to those places where you don’t have a lot of space for words to work with. And while you don’t have a lot of words to work with, these areas are the some of the most important you’ll write. Make the short version work.