Writing well is an important part of the nonprofit sector, whether it’s for grants, fundraising, compliance reports, client, board, volunteer or staff policies, trainings, work procedures, strategic planning, standard operating procedures, website text or other documentation. Writing that is technically strong is one of your greatest assets to help you communicate your idea and the value of your services. There are four universal considerations for technical writing: content, audience and purpose, accessibility, and grammar.
Content: Have Something to Say
What do you want to say? Are you trying to inspire a donor? Explain how you are meeting state or federal requirements to continue to receive funding, or provide volunteers specific instructions on how to interact with your clients? To produce good written content, a writer must know specifically what they want to say in every paragraph. Fluff or irrelevant information will slow your reader down and may reduce their interest.
Audience: Underestimate the Audience
This may sound counter intuitive, but if you are writing a grant, report, policy, procedure, or almost any written documentation, it’s safer to assume your audience does not know the topic. Not only should you define all terminology, but you should assume that you need to explain almost everything. Readers want to understand you, and it’s your job to help them.
Accessibility: Make Information Easy to Find
Your audience should be able to find your information with ease. This is more than just knowing your audience; this is about how you organize the information. Accessibility in writing includes anything that helps to organize a document, such as headers and footers, bullet points, summaries at the beginning and end, charts, table of contents, etc. The writer must write content that is easy to navigate.
Grammar: Correct and Consistent
Good grammar inspires confidence. It sends a message that your organization is professional, careful and can be trusted to serve clients or receive funding. While writing correctly is important, think also about making sure you use the same terminology, abbreviations, grammar, style, and layout throughout the document. Ideally, a second person also reads and edits your work. Often, your own typos will be invisible to you; a second pair of eyes will improve your written products.
Writing well is not a luxury; it is a necessity. However, bringing in outside support can be prohibitively expensive unless you work with a company that understands your budget and your needs. MATC offers substantial discounts to DANA members at prices starting as low as 30-50% lower than competitor rates. For further information or to get an estimate, call 302-543-6059, or visit www.matcgroup.com.
About the Author
MATC Group is a proud DANA member. Our executive team posseses years of experience working in in the nonprofit sector. We offer substantial discounts to DANA members for technical documentation and instructional materials. MATC can write grants, policies and procedures, press releases, standard operating procedures, government compliance documentation and reports, strategic plans, donor outreach, website text, brochures, user guides, and much more. MATC can also help you organize your knowledge, online document library, and we can also build you a learning management system (LMS) for staff, volunteers and board members.