Powerful Nonprofit Writing Tools For You — Even If You’re Not a Writer

nonprofit writing tools

With the demand for content today, everyone is a writer. You can craft a whole sentence using emoticons 😎 and acronyms IMHO (in my humble opinion). But unambiguous writing requires a strong command of language. Good news: nonprofit writing tools can help you, whether you’re a best-selling author or just banging out an email.

Here are some of my favorites. I hope you find them useful, too.

Improve the Quality of Your Content

  • I use Grammarly every day for on-the-go reviews of my writing, especially on my iPhone and iPad. While the free version is helpful, the paid subscription does much more and includes plagiarism checks. I like the goal-setting feature that adjusts analysis based on a handful of simple choices.
  • If you tend toward wordiness, try the Hemingway App, a free tool that helps you write like, well, Ernest Hemingway. It has a simple user interface that scores you on readability. It also gives you sensible, easy-to-understand metrics. Hemmingway App may not be for you if you prefer James Michener, but most of us could use a little help tightening up our prose. 
  • Have you ever grappled for new ways to say the same old thing? Explore Related Words when you don’t exactly want a synonym, or you’re looking for different phrasing. 
  • If you’re a word nerd, play with the thesaurus at OneLook. It offers a reverse dictionary as well as related concepts, answers to basic identification questions, and even solves crossword clues. 

Polish Email and Simplify Social Media

  • Coschedule offers a free headline analysis tool. I use it to punch up email subject lines and blog titles. Shoot for a score of 70 or higher.
  • If you do a lot of social media posting, look at PromoRepublic for scheduling your posts. It’s affordable and well worth subscribing for the treasure trove of ideas, content, and templates that save time and help you create eye-catching graphics.
  • If you’re a data wonk, Onomics offers free data visualizations. I haven’t needed to use it yet, but it came to me highly recommended. I’m looking for an excuse to dive in.

Gather Ideas and Inspiration

  • The Etymology Dictionary is another little patch of heaven for word nerds. It can give you the origin of an English word or phrase, its definitions(s), slang usage, and related entries.  
  • Use Answer The Public (answerthepublic.com) for an idea generator. Enter keywords and discover the most popular searches. Answer the Public pulls data from Google searches and may give you ideas for your next assignment. 

Nonprofit Writing Tools Help But They Don’t Write For You

Writing is a creative process. Sometimes writers break the rules deliberately. If everyone followed them religiously, we wouldn’t have “Ulysses” by James Joyce, “Catcher in the Rye” by Holden Caulfield, or anything by Ernest Hemingway. 

Nonprofit writing tools are just that: tools. They catch errors and generate suggestions. Like the spell-checkers in today’s writing software, they don’t always make sense, and they don’t find every mistake. Use the information they give you wisely, but don’t let it rule your writing. 

Are you ready to give your donors the content they deserve? Here’s a Donor-Centered Content Marketing worksheet you can use as a template to enhance your donor communication efforts.

Mary Beth Deans

Mary Beth Deans

Chief Word Crafter at Deans & Company
Mary Beth launched Deans & Company to help her clients tell their stories. Before launching this business, she was a project manager. Her clients know her as someone who could take the panic out of a project. Her favorite challenge was the high-visibility program that needed a sensible, levelheaded approach. She loves the art and craft of the storyteller.
Mary Beth Deans
By |2019-12-11T13:10:45-05:00December 20th, 2019|Donor Communications, Nonprofit Marketing|

6 Comments

  1. Jason December 30, 2019 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Grammarly and Coschedule are wonderful tools. Any tips for Coschedule? I often struggle to get high scores.

  2. MB Deans December 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    If you go to the CoSchedule free headline analyzer and scroll down a bit, you’ll see a link to a very good document they created on how to write headlines.

  3. Michael J. Rosen January 3, 2020 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you for providing a terrific list of resources for writers. I’ve been using some of them, but others are new to me.

    One minor point: “The Catcher in the Rye,” which you referred to, was written by J.D. Salinger. Holden Caulfield is the protagonist, not the author.

  4. Cindy January 6, 2020 at 9:40 am - Reply

    I find that the CoSchedule email subject line tool is geared towards sales. In the nonprofit world I wouldn’t use many if not most of the words that increase opens. Plus, if you’re supposed to only use 3 to 5 words in a subject line, I definitely wouldn’t use the words that they provided.

  5. Will January 6, 2020 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Very informative blog post. Thanks!

  6. MB Deans January 6, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Cindy, CoSchedule does tend toward hyperbolic, click-baity terms, I agree. However, I don’t agree with the “3-5 words” rule. I suspect it’s based on the idea that most of us could pare down our writing considerably. It makes more sense to focus on writing for a specific audience in a way that’s easy for them to read yet communicates the message clearly. Chasing SEO rankings is a fool’s game (in my not-very-humble opinion 😜). Google and other search engines are getting smart enough to be able to identify well-written content and rank accordingly. Note: I’m not saying keywords are unimportant; I am saying you need to know your audience.

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