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The Language of Nonprofits

"Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds."


Go to a baseball game and you'll hear familiar chatter echo throughout the stadium. "Programs Here! Popcorn! Hot Dogs! Cotton Candy!" They will play tunes like "Take me out to the ball game" or the Village People's famous Y.C.M.A. song, "This is the language and music of baseball.

Nonprofits, too, have a language all their own. Sure, there are many nonprofits and each communicates in its own unique way. But there is a common voice among nonprofits. It's a language filled with lots of four-letter words, such as love, hope, give, heal, and care.

These poignant words and many others universally appeal to our emotions. Nonprofit language attempts to inspire us to take action for a worthy cause.

Nonprofits that master the art of writing and communicating their vision, mission and message will put their organization on solid footing and a swifter path to success.

Practice Plain Language Writing

So what are the qualities of rigorous nonprofit writing? And how do you craft language with bite and edge? Writing is complex. It's a painstaking process that takes lots of hard work. Nonprofit writers, too, have the tough job of moving hearts and minds.

You can improve your ability to communicate by sharpening your plain writing language skills. Here are eight quick points of emphasis.

  1. Think like your audience

  2. Write clearly

  3. Be concise

  4. Use active voice

  5. Vary your sentence lengths

  6. Avoid long, monster paragraphs

  7. Break your content into chunks

  8. Edit and proofread read your work


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