Charity copywriting or writing copy for non-profit organisations is often the hardest working type of copy. It’s multitasking – spreading a message and persuading people to support your cause with actions or donations. It needs to capture the interest of and appeal to a wide range of stakeholders – current supporters, potential supporters, local authorities, Government departments, the people your charity helps and those who it could, and of course, the omnipresent media. Whether providing copy for a website or campaign brochure, direct mail or case for support, donor appeal or annual review, charity copywriting must share your vision, explain your mission and define your purpose. It should build trust confidence and belief from the very start.
To open hearts and wallets, you have to differentiate, be inventive and be heard above all the noise. You must avoid the trap of producing corporate communications that simply ticks all of the right legal and financial boxes. Whether it’s publicising the plight of starving children in a far-off land or telling people about lonely older people closer to home, charity copywriting should raise everything – awareness, profiles, funds, hopes, and a legion of supporters, volunteers, partners and sponsors. Using engaging and emotive language, it should illustrate the important work you do and the difference it makes to its beneficiaries, without being patronising or begging for donations. It needs to make deeper connections, build stronger relationships and have greater impact.
Whether writing a piece of fundraising direct mail or a case for support. storytelling is the most powerful tool in a charity’s communication box. Your narrative should engage audiences with sensitively told moving and inspiring stories. Even in the most sombre of moments, it must remain positive and enthusiastic. When your supporters feel connected to your story and the story of those you help, they’ll be compelled to help your charity become even more successful. As well as sharing and celebrating your achievements, it should also thank and motivate its volunteers and supporters. Copywriting rules are not set in stone. But here are a few tips to help charities who want to have a go at writing their own copy.
- Understand your audience and define your purpose.
- Question everything you include. Research your information rigorously.
- Consider readability, using clear formatting, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Speak directly to the reader with passion and emotion.
- Establish legitimacy and trust from the start.
- Write with rhythm. Good writing has a flow to it.
- Use human action-inspiring storytelling that people can relate to.
- Emphasise your key messages throughout.
- Keep your writing simple and avoid using too much jargon.
- Use infographics to illustrate important statistics.
- If it sounds like waffle, it usually is. Make every word count.
- Include powerful headlines and sub-headlines.
- Don’t repeat yourself. Look for overused words and repeated phrases.
- Include a clear and persuasive call-to-action (CTA).
- Proofread, proofread and then get someone else to proofread it.
I’ve written copy for some of the UK’s biggest charities as well as some equally important smaller not-for-profit organisations. You’ll find a list of them on my clients page and some examples of my work in my portfolio. If you’d like to talk to an experienced charity copywriter, please get in touch.