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©2010 Dalya F Massachi WRITING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: The Art & Craft of Turning Your Words into Ca$h Presenter: Dalya F. Massachi 1.

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Presentation on theme: "©2010 Dalya F Massachi WRITING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: The Art & Craft of Turning Your Words into Ca$h Presenter: Dalya F. Massachi 1."— Presentation transcript:


2 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi WRITING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: The Art & Craft of Turning Your Words into Ca$h Presenter: Dalya F. Massachi 1

3 Writing To Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact (special discount here!) ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net2

4 LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1.Identify the essential elements of effective social justice-focused fundraising & outreach materials 2.Refer to lessons and creative ideas from community-minded organizations’ materials 3.Take away valuable on-the-spot feedback on your own materials ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net3

5 3 BIG ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1. Writing can be hard — but with practice and feedback it gets easier and more fun. 2. There’s a lot of expertise in the room; let’s use it to help each other. 3. Reminder: This is not an individual coaching session. Please keep questions relevant to all. 4

6 MY BACKGROUND: As a nonprofit writer for nearly 20 years, I’ve authored a host of articles, proposals, websites, scripts, brochures, etc… including column on: …and contributed to 6 books (3 shown here). From 2000-2004, I was the Founding Director of BAIDO. ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net5

7 NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net6

8 DEFINITION, ANYONE? 0 FUNDRAISING/OUTREACH MATERIALS: Written pieces (printed or online) that share info and enthusiasm about your work with interested people who may want to exchange their support for the benefits and value you offer. 7 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

9 TOP DOCUMENTS I. Introductory materials 1.Mission/vision statement 2.Brochure/business card 3.Event flyer 4.Tip sheet/Fact sheet II. Periodicals 5. Newsletter 6. Annual report 7. Special report/white paper 8

10 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi TOP DOCUMENTS III. Mailing for Moolah 8. Case statement 9. Fundraising appeal letter 10. Thank you note 11. Grant Proposal/Letter of Intent 12. Grant Report IV. Cyber-writing 13.Everyday email/discussion list 14. E-newsletter 15. Website/blog 9


12 STRATEGY #1: ADVANCE YOUR BRAND  What your work stands for  What you want to be known for  Your essence or identity 11 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

13 YOUR UNIQUENESS: So powerful that it cuts through inertia, gets noticed, and gets people talking about you.  Under-served clients, location, etc.  Outstanding credentials or experience  Extensive collaborations  Unusual point of view or approach Ask yourself: When someone hears about your work, what images, feelings, and ideas do you want them to associate with you? What’s amazing, special, and inspiring about your work? 12 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

14 Beyond Breast Cancer is different from other breast cancer organizations in that we focus on quality of life. While we do provide needed medical information and referrals, we emphasize living as fully as possible, despite the disease. We acknowledge the challenges and limitations of living with breast cancer, and we believe that focusing on activities that our clients are able to enjoy cultivates a higher quality of life than might otherwise be possible. EXAMPLE: Beyond Breast Cancer 13 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

15 WRITING WORKOUT Brainstorm 5-7 words that you feel describe the essence or personality of your organization (branding words): a) the unique value you add to your community b) the attitudes or ideals you hold dear and want to be known for 14 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

16 STRATEGY #2: ENGAGE SPECIFIC READERS  Donors  Clients  Journalists  Other Activists  Researchers  Web surfers 15

17 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi EXAMPLE: INVESTORS  Want to be inspired by your vision of success  Have background, concern but may be unfamiliar with your slant, niche, timing  Want to invest wisely in a trustworthy org  Often can get financially involved, but for how much? 16

18 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi  How is the organization’s work related to my needs or my community’s needs?  Will my money benefit the organization’s actual work, or will it support administrative overhead?  What has been the impact of my past investments?  Who else is already behind this?  Do I already have a relationship with this organization? QUESTIONS/CONCERNS ON THEIR MINDS 17

19 DATA YOU NEED TO GATHER  Demographics  Geographic location  Limitations (time, income, education)  Values, hopes, and fears  Why they care about your issue and/or org  What they already know or believe  Relationship to your organization or issue  Their related personal interests or hobbies  Information or tools they need to act 18 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

20 ASK WHAT THEY WANT  What do they want from reading your materials?  What problems can you help them solve? 19 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

21 EXAMPLE: ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR As a middle-school science teacher, you are always looking for fresh, up-to-date material on today’s pressing issues. With diminishing resources in our public schools, you may find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the times. On the Envirokids website, you will discover a wealth of high-quality classroom resources updated every semester to reflect changing frontiers in the environmental sciences. Get teaching materials that will inspire your students with dozens of lively class discussion starters, coupled with engaging and educational indoor, outdoor, online, and offline activities. 20 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

22 HOW DO WE FIND OUT?  Review event and service evaluation forms  Take online or print surveys (with incentive)  Hold focus groups  Check web statistics  Attend gatherings where they congregate  Study published opinion polls  Review other online, broadcast, print media that reflect their mindset  Ask others who also know about them 21 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

23 STRATEGY #3: EMPHASIZE BENEFITS MORE THAN FEATURES Feature: Component or characteristic of what you offer Benefit: How the features improve the lives of people in your community and satisfy their needs and desires 22 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

24 BENEFITS ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS:  What does the organization’s work mean for your community: personally, economically, spiritually, emotionally, socially, etc.?  What will happen as a result of the particular features you offer?  How does your work inspire, excite, entertain, or educate your readers and community?  For each feature you offer, ask “So what?” How does that lead to something better?  “What’s in it for me and us?” 23 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

25 WRITING WORKOUT STEP 1: Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left-hand side, write 3 features of the work you do. Leave a few blank lines between them. STEP 2: On the right-hand side of the line of each feature, write down at least 1 benefit to your readers, the community and/or the environment.: what does your work mean to them: personally, emotionally, socially? Consider your readers’ point of view and see what difference those features will make in their lives—as if they were asking you: “So what?” 24 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

26 POWERFUL WRITING TECHNIQUES “Good writing does not come from fancy word processors or expensive typewriters or special pencils or hand-crafted quill pens. Good writing comes from good thinking.” – Ann Loring 25

27 PRIORITY INFO Facts and figures Importance of the issue Results you envision Solution you propose Track record

28 TIE BACK TO YOUR MISSION AND VISION…REPEATEDLY  Evoke a vision of what your community will be like when your organization succeeds in fulfilling its mission.  Make sure you “connect the dots” for your readers over time in an ongoing story of accomplishing your mission. 27 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi

29 ENGAGE BOTH THE HEART & THE HEAD ©2010 Dalya F Massachi  Even left-brained people need an emotional understanding  Your reader will remember how you make her/him feel more than anything else you say or do 28

30 POSITIVE HUMAN EMOTIONS ©2010 Dalya F Massachi Appreciation Belonging Compassion Dignity Empowerment Encouragement Excitement Inspiration Joy Love Safety Validation Example You want your children to be safe and healthy. You always use sunscreen and they never leave home without warm clothes on. You use seat belts. But what about the pesticides sprayed near the school playground your children use every day? Let Parents for Playgrounds tell you about what we have found... 29

31 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi Ask yourself: What makes YOU most passionate and inspired about your work? Let it shine through:  Transcribe what you would say to a respected friend  Act the part of a host giving your readers a tour of the best parts of your “home”  But don‘t dwell on details they don’t want to know. SHOW YOUR PASSION 30

32 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi CONNECT PERSON-TO-PERSON  Be reader-centered  Think and write in terms of “you” (the reader)  Briefly communicate shared values, needs, interests  Use their language  Make virtual housecalls 31

33 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi  We’re all in this together” (locality, event, culture, history in common)  Socio-economic situation  Realities of your readers’ everyday lives POP CULTURE EXAMPLES 1.“This Modern World” cartoons 2. Dilbert 3.“This American Life” on National Public Radio DESCRIBE YOUR SHARED SOCIAL CONTEXT 32

34 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi SHOW, DON’T JUST TELL  Convey striking details  Use metaphors and similes  Show HOW your solution benefits folks  Use word pictures: NOT “affordable housing and good nutrition” BUT “roof and 3 healthy meals a day”  Ask yourself: How would you illustrate the concept in a photo or video? 33

35 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi BEST EVER METAPHORS AND SIMILES (as taken from high school English papers) 1. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree. 2.The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't. 3.Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze. 4.John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who also had never met. (Source: Urban legend on the Internet) 34

36 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi “TAKE ME THERE, MAKE ME CARE.” What would reader want to know: “Can you tell me about a time when X was true?” “How did you feel when...?” “Why do you think that?” “What makes you care about that topic?” “When did you first start thinking that, and how did you come to that conclusion?” “Can you compare that to an image or experience that is more familiar to everyone?” 35

37 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi PUT NUMBERS IN CONTEXT The Advocacy Institute and Berkeley Media Studies Group: “social math” Express numbers in terms of a familiar social context 36

38 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi EXAMPLE The Frameworks Institute used stats from U.S. Dept. of Ed’s 2005 study, “Calories In, Calories Out: Food and Exercise in Public Elementary Schools,” and crafted this message: “Exercise is something that children need every day. But half of all students attend schools that have reduced their phys ed class to just one or two days per week. Part-time fitness is no more effective than part-time reading or math instruction.” 37

39 WARNING! “Most people in Africa support their entire families on the equivalent of what Americans spend on pet food.” The audience heard: “You want me to choose between my pets, whom I love and care for, and people in other countries.” Conclusion: “Paying attention to the values inherent in your social math equation is an important consideration in determining its effectiveness.” ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net38

40 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi SHARE STORIES  Use short quotes from people similar to your readers or people they care about. How have they benefited: results and importance.  Main characteristics of great stories: 1.Beginning, middle, end 2.Memorable characters 3.Interesting setting (time and place) 4.Compelling plot with conflict resolution 39

41 EXAMPLE Juan Romagoza Arce: “When I testified, a strength came over me. I felt like I was in the prow of a boat and that there were many, many people rowing behind—that they were moving me into this moment. I felt that if I looked back at them, I’d weep because I’d see them again: wounded, tortured, raped, naked, torn, bleeding.... Being involved in this case, confronting the Generals with these terrible facts—that’s the best possible therapy a torture survivor could have.” ( ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net40

42 “ With storytelling we enter the trance of the sacred. Telling stories reminds us of our humanity in this beautiful broken world.” – Terry Tempest Williams ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net41

43 CLASSIC STORYLINES ©2010 Dalya F Massachi  Good vs. Evil, Good guys vs. Bad guys  Underdog finds justice/wins (David vs. Goliath)  Neighbors help each other (Good Samaritan)  Rags to riches (poor to rich)  Hero turns personal tragedy into community force  Triumph of hard work (American Dream)  What goes around comes around 42

44 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi STRESS YOUR UNIQUE ROLE IN COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS How does your work fit into the larger picture? EXAMPLE: Appeal letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists Lead asks: “There are too many environmental groups. Why don’t you folks work together?”  Collaboration is a “guiding principle” for them.  By joining, the reader “will be strengthening the entire Environmental Movement.” 43

45 KEEP READER DIVERSITY IN MIND Clients, staff, investors, board members, partners, and others can hold different power relationships, and may understand little about each other. As writers, we need to be very aware of the impact of our words ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net44

46 EMPHASIZE OUR SIMILARITIES  Health and well-being  Safety  A sense of belonging  Loving relationships  Education and opportunity  Self-esteem  Spiritual connection  Creativity  Striving to be our best ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net45

47 Ask yourself: What are you implying by using the identification words you choose?  America vs. United States  Latino vs. Latino/a vs. Hispanic  Victim vs. Survivor  Client vs. beneficiary vs. partner vs. member  Community vs. population CHOOSE HOW TO REFER TO SPECIFIC GROUPS ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net46

48 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi LOOK OUT FOR You may need to reclaim words and phrases that have been twisted: 100% natural Green Sustainable Healthier Family values Free trade Patriotic Security Terrorist Subsidies 47

49 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi THE LEAD 48

50 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi SOME IDEAS  Relate bold, unexpected, or controversial statement or story (see example in handout)  Focus on one representative person or thing  Briefly paint a stunning or humorous word picture  Provide hints of a mystery unfolding  Summarize: who, what, when, where, why, how 49

51 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi DON’T START OUT WITH A FOCUS ON “WE” EXAMPLE Original: We want to bring native plants back to our community. But we need your help! Suggested revision: Native plants bring many benefits to our community and help avoid eco- trouble down the line. With just a few simple steps, you can help improve our neighborhood’s environment! 50

52 COMPLEMENT WITH GRAPHICS  Worth 1,000+ words, if used well. Photos, charts, cartoons, maps, calendars, diagrams  Not just filling space as an afterthought  Short captions: summarize, ID left to right, double- check names, present tense vivid verbs  Photos: similar to your clients, members, and readers accomplishing/benefiting from your mission ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net51

53 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi ACTIVATE WITH YOUR ENDING! “You have to hold your audience in writing to the very end—much more than in talking, when people have to be polite and listen to you.” — Brenda Ueland Your “call to action”:  All the details they need  Easy ways to interact with you  Limited-time offer or deadline  Reminder of the benefits they will enjoy if they act now 52

54 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi LET IDEAS GERMINATE "The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." —Robert Cormier  Wait at least 24 hours before starting to revise.  Try keeping a notepad & pen on your nightstand. This invites creative ideas to visit you. 53

55 USE THE EDITING CHECKLIST See the handout! ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net54

56 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi CULTIVATE CONCISENESS: LESS IS MORE “Never use a longer word when a short word will do.” -- Ben Franklin  Sentences: 14-20 words max.  No freeloading words; can you go without it?  It’s all about the soundbites  KISSS: Keep It Short, Simple & Skimmable 55

57 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi PROOFREAD!  Check your document for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other slip-ups.  Always read your piece out loud (even if it’s only to yourself). Most people hear words as they read them, so your words should roll off the tongue. 56

58 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi  Everything you write is for fundraising/marketing  Advance your brand  Engage specific readers  Focus on benefits (not just features)  FIRST priorities  Tie to mission, vision  Engage the heart & head  Show your passion  Describe your shared context  Stress collaborative work  Share stories  Connect person-to-person  Keep diversity in mind  Look out for spin  Focus on your lead  Show, don’t just tell  Put numbers in context  Activate with your ending  Complement w/graphics  Let ideas germinate  Cultivate conciseness  Use the Editing Checklist  Proofread KEY CONCEPTS 57

59 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi WRITING WORKOUT STEP 1: Share your branding words and benefits with your neighbor. STEP 2: Use them, the Editing Checklist, and the other concepts we discussed today, to review the material you brought in. Take on the role of an intended reader.  What worked well?  How can you improve? 58

60 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi More info on my website and at my exhibit. 59

61 MANY OTHER WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR RESULTS:  Free monthly newsletter (tips, resources)  Multi-session workshops: public and private  One-on-one writing coaching  Tune-ups of any document  Assessment of your org’s writing challenges, recommended actions  Writing To Make a Difference (discount here!) ©2010 Dalya F Massachi www.dfmassachi.net60

62 ©2010 Dalya F Massachi FINAL THOUGHT "Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”— Kurt Vonnegut 61

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