NGO comms: get past content panic, and publish

March 16, 2017 in Communications

Creating and publishing content for an NGO comms blog is a pain. Blogging is, to be sure, a very powerful way of talking about your organisation and your work, but there are times that it’s just hard. For me, this is usually about the fact that there are so many options. If you’re not careful, the many things you could possibly write tower over you and then collapse, with a strange sort of melancholy wheezing noise, into the very few things you have actually written. And the blog still sits there on your site, where it could be showcasing your work, desperately fallow and needing to be grown.

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EAL content creators are heroes

March 10, 2016 in Communications

One of the biggest parts of our work is with comms officers who do not speak English as a first language or fluently. This particularly true with large NGOs, who need more content for blogs, social media and reports than their central-office comms staff (who usually speak English as a first language) can create. We do a lot of training for content-creators, and there’s an important difference between the advice that someone needs to create content in their first language, and the advice that someone needs to create content in their second (or third, or ninth) language.

First of all, let me be honest. I speak French and Bengali badly, and Khmer just about well enough to be polite (most of the time). But the idea of creating inspirational content, in words, for the attention of anyone who speaks those languages natively, is terrifying. I’d do it, but I wouldn’t dare to ask how it landed in case I discovered I’d accidentally made an obscene joke when trying to talk soberly about clean water or education for all.

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How to get more donations for your non-profit by nailing the tone of your content

March 10, 2016 in Communications

Your tone of voice is a crucial thing to nail when you’re making a content strategy. It’s one of the two major components of how your audience will understand your organization (the other is your visual identity and design: Jesse’s got a great post about one of the ways he gathers ideas for his designs here). With a consistent tone of voice, you can make sure that every piece of your written content communicates not only the particular thing you’re writing about, but deeper things about who you are and why you do what you do.

Ultimately, this is going to drive donations. People don’t give to causes, people or organizations that they don’t understand. If they feel like they know you, your audience will feel a connection with you.

That means that when you ask them to become part of your work by donating to it, they’ll already be there. It won’t be a request that’s being made by a stranger, it’ll be a suggestion being made by a friend. A trusted voice. And people will give.

How can you create an effective tone of voice? Here’s a few of the things I make sure of when I’m trying to nail a tone of voice.

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Writing NGO comms content that’s genuinely exciting: kill the hype

February 16, 2016 in Communications

Business-speak has a (justifiably) bad rep. And I am ashamed to say that, even (or especially) as a writer, I am not immune. It takes a friend to call you out on it, as in the following exchange:

I mean, honestly. All those words instead of just saying ‘We’ll work it out.’

In my defence, I had recently been engaged in a lot of business speak with business people doing business, and there’s a certain impatience to the mind of the good businessman. He wants the job done, because that’s how he (and you) are going to deliver what’s needed. And so language becomes either loopy and obtuse (as when trying to hold an ambiguous situation in a sentence so the sentence still ends with an action point), or astonishingly over-hyped.

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How (Not) to Write Success Stories

January 22, 2016 in Communications

Is this story at all familiar to you? [Name] was a [demographic] in [poverty-stricken location] suffering under [particular developmental horror which our NGO tries to solve].

We gave [particular intervention], and her situation has changed for the better!

Now, [Name] is [appropriate adjective].

[Heart-warming quote translated from local language into broken English].

Want to help people like [Name]? You can donate here!

Or not, probably.

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