3 Steps to Friendlier Fundraising Websites
I recently talked with a nonprofit communications director whose challenge for 2014 is to remake her organization’s communications voice, style and tone from something that is, frankly, a little frightening to something much more friendly.
How does she know the current approach is frightening? Because the organization’s supporters and clients said so. The nonprofit asked for feedback on its website content and heard back that people often feel more scared after going to the site (it works on a particular type of cancer). They also feel overwhelmed.
Instead of those reactions, the nonprofit wants people to feel comforted and full of hope after visiting the website and reading its other ongoing communications.
So, the organization got the message. It needed to change the way it communicates. But how? It’s not like cancer is a naturally bubbly and fun topic.
Here are three approaches I recommended. Maybe you could try these too?
1. Write in the second person as much as possible
Using the words “you” and “your” all the time — as much as possible — forces you as the writer to think about the reader, which I believe, for most of us, leads to more conversational and friendly writing.
2. Create a friendly, plain-English style guide
Trying to translate technical topics into plain English is excruciating for both the technical experts and the communications staff. So when you finally come to an agreement about how to talk about something, institutionalize it! It can take a lot of back and forth to find the right words to describe a certain situation in a way that is still accurate but also understandable to a layperson.
Don’t lose the outcomes of that internal negotiating work by just putting it into that immediate work product. Add it to a friendly, plain-English style guide so you can use it again.
3. Find your voice in the communications of others
Talking about voice, style and tone is difficult in the abstract. What does “friendly” mean anyway? And, yes, it can mean different things to different people. To clarify the definition in your office, and to get everyone closer to common ground, I recommend you find writing from another organization that represents how you want to sound.
For example, check out these cancer-related websites:
- Susan G. Komen
- Young Survival Coalition
- Rethink Breast Cancer
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer
- Bright Pink
- Gloria Gemma
It’s not that one is right or wrong, but that they are different. Which approach would work best for your work and for the people who will be reading your content? Pull together examples that you can emulate in your own work.
What other tips do you have for switching up the way your communications feel and sound to others? E-mail me at email@example.com.
(Editor’s note: Kivi will be the keynote speaker at FundRaising Success’ second annual Engage Conference in Philadelphia in April. This article was reprinted with permission from her Nonprofit Communications Blog.)