Q & A with Dalya Massachi, a Woman on a Mission to Help Nonprofits Communicate More Effectively

By Margaret Barry

Dalya Massachi’s book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.

, promises to help nonprofit organizations and anyone interested in social change better communicate their mission to their constituents. The book includes practical advice and 500 examples from nonprofits around the country. Here’s what Massachi has to say about her book:

Q: There are a lot of books about writing for nonprofits—books about how to write a grant proposal, how to write a blog. What makes your book unique?

A: The book is tailored specifically to the needs of copywriters and other staff who write all kinds of fundraising and marketing material for organizations involved in social change. It is presented in the context of the specific communications challenges they face. I provide 500 examples from nonprofits that do it right and organizations that could improve their messaging.

Q: What is the most common mistake made by writers at nonprofits?

A:  They don’t focus on the organization’s mission in a person-to-person way. They need to do that not only in the annual report, but also in all other communications vehicles, such as brochures, newsletters, appeal letters and blogs. Your mission is the most important thing to your reader!

Q: Are there other ways they could improve?

A: In the materials I’ve reviewed, there is rampant use of jargon and acronyms. This should be avoided at all costs. The other top challenge is to make sure your writing is concise enough to skim.

Q: What about the nonprofits that cannot afford to hire a copywriter?

A: There are many organizations that don’t have the budget for this, but I’ve found that typically there are people in the organization that are pretty good writers. They can fine-tune their writing by reading books about writing (like mine), attending writing workshops, and forming what I call a “writing circle.” They can choose a “writing buddy” from another department and then edit each other’s work.

Q: Are there other trends you have uncovered in your research?

A: In their appeal letters and brochures, nonprofits dedicated to social change tend to focus on a list of services they offer and not the benefits they offer to the donors. The readers’ response is to ask themselves, “If I donate to this organization, what’s in it for me (or us)?” So the message in these marketing materials should be focused less on services, and more on how the organization makes the world a better place.

Dalya F. Massachi, founder of Writing for Community Success, specializes in helping social change professionals advance their missions through outstanding fundraising and marketing materials – online and offline.  For nearly 20 years, Dalya has worked with community-oriented organizations as a trainer, writing coach, grantwriter, journalist, and organizer. To learn about her workshops and free e-newsletter, go to: www.dfmassachi.net. Her book is available at Amazon, her website, and at a bookstore near you.