The 4 Cs
You have just finished writing something, maybe it’s a fundraising letter or newsletter article. Before you go any further, ask yourself if you have covered these 4 Cs of writing good content.
Is it Clear?
What your intention? What message are you sending to your readers? Are you asking for a donation, thanking them, or informing them?
Whatever it is, make sure your message is clear. If you have a call to action, that needs to be clear as well. You want your message to produce results. For example your fundraising letter should generate a donation.
Make sure you use language your readers will understand (no jargon). Just because something is clear to you, doesn’t mean it will be clear to others. Terms such as capacity building are used a lot in the nonprofit world, but may not mean anything to your supporters.
Is it Concise?
Can you say more with less? Eliminate any unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, and filler. Get to the point right away. Concise writing doesn’t mean you need to be terse, or that all of your materials have to be one page. Sometimes they will need to be longer, but the same rules apply. Make all your words count.
Is it Conversational?
Write as if you are having a conversation with your readers, and be personable. Most of your communication and fundraising material can be written in the second person – where you refer to your readers as you and your organization as we.
Avoid using jargon, cliches, multi-syllable words, and the dreaded passive voice. Would you ever use any of these in a conversation?
You may think you are impressing your readers by using jargon and big words, but you are most likely confusing them or even worse, alienating them.
Is it Compelling?
Is whatever you are writing going to capture someone’s attention and keep them interested throughout? Start with a good opening sentence. Leading with a question is often good. Stories are also great.
Put a human face on your stories and keep statistics to a minimum. You could start a fundraising letter with a story that leads to a call to action.
Of course, your content should always be free of typos and grammatical errors, and keeping these 4 Cs in mind will help ensure good content that will give you the results you want.