Author: Jennifer Ruthe, Charity Copywriting Expert
Is it just me, or is it getting noisy out there? In the midst of a global pandemic the likes of which have never been seen before, the world has gone virtual. Remote working is now the norm, and if you didn’t have a digital strategy before – you do now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean your mission should stop. The stakes are high, and your words matter now more than ever before. So here are our five top tips to help you write copy that counts.
1. Lay the ground work
When the pressure is on, it might be tempting to sit down and write the first words that come into your head. Resist the urge. Before you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) make sure you’ve considered your audience, brand and purpose. Ask yourself who you are writing to and why. Think about the tone of voice you will need to use. Is it in line with your organisation’s brand and style? They sound like obvious points, but they can be easy to overlook. Don’t. Set your aim, objective and style from the start. You will find it easier to direct your words towards a well-defined target.
2. Know your channel
From social media, to website copy, annual reports and grant applications, every channel needs a different form and style. It is important to understand the features and characteristics of each. Social media is a great chance to be more informal and creative, but annual reports and grant applications will need a very different approach. Make sure you tailor your copy to the right format.
3. Work your content
You can have the best words in the world, but if your content is lacking you will struggle to sell them. Good content is the key to rising above the noise. Think beneficiary stories, service users, news and media, social trends, impact data, ambassador case studies… Ideas are everywhere. You just need to know where to look for them.
4. Make every word count
So here you are. It’s time to get your ideas on paper. There is no one way to write great copy. Do not be disheartened if it takes hours. Writing isn’t easy, and GOOD writing takes time. From first draft to final copy, think of your words as piece of clay. You will need time and expertise to sculpt them into shape.
5. Think readability and accessibility
Congratulations, you’ve done it! Now you just need to get your words out there. But before you publish take note of this one final step. Readability. Make sure your work is well formatted. Your words need to be open to everyone. Real text, alt-text, reading order, font size, spacing and colour all make a difference, so take the time to keep accessibility in mind.
There you have it. Five top tips for great charity copy. Yes, it’s taken us three to get on to the actual written words - but that’s the point. Writing is rarely just that. Words. It is a process, with your published text the final output, the veneer. If you want to write words that work, you need to invest time into each of these five areas. It is worth the effort. Because where would your charity be without the words they need to educate, inform, persuade and inspire?