The Changemaker’s Guide to Copywriting

Copywriters are not only expert writers, but they’re also able to persuade your audience to take a specific action. If you’re running a nonprofit, cultural or health organization, educational institution, or any changemaking organization, that skill is worth gold.

Still, you probably have unique needs for your copy. Perhaps you’re concerned about staying on message. Perhaps you’re covering a sensitive topic. Or perhaps your copy has to strike a balance between “sales-y” and informative — which can be a fine line.

Here are some considerations for hiring a copywriter when you need special care for your project.

Cultural Competence

If you’re in a changemaking industry, you likely work with a diverse group of individuals, both on your team and among your clientele. It could cause a lot of harm to your reputation if you send out emails or social media posts that use insensitive language or fail to acknowledge the needs of vulnerable groups.

That’s why it’s important to hire a copywriter who demonstrates skillful use of language to be as accommodating and accessible as possible. Cultural competence is the ability to interact with and understand people of other cultures. In a communication context, it entails:

  • the structuring of language to maximize engagement e.g. using active voice and a strong narrative structure
  • the avoidance of problematic words and phrases, including slurs and any language that pinpoints the reader’s inherent condition or socioeconomic group
  • the use of general language that doesn’t require advanced education or specialized training

Many copywriters lean on the clichés and tropes they’ve learned throughout the years. However, as language evolves and the world becomes more globalized, it’s crucial to avoid linguistic microaggressions or any language that potentially excludes the reader. Cultural competence is, therefore, an essential characteristic of any copywriter who your organization hires.

Appropriate Tone

While all copywriters are trained to sell with words, overly sales-y copy is off-putting to many consumers — especially if it’s coming from a do-gooder organization. To protect your reputation and mission, make sure that your tone is appropriate to your messaging. A skilled copywriter can strike a balance between pushing the sale and inspiring the audience to take your desired action.

For example, calls-to-action such as “Donate Now” may be strong, but it’s often more effective to express the benefit that a prospective donor would be creating or receiving. By writing “Help a child eat” or “Join your community” as a CTA, a copywriter can tap into the reader’s emotional needs rather than simply demanding their money.

Your copy’s tone should also match your mission. If you’re running a yoga studio meant to help people find wellness, you probably don’t want emails or ads that use bombastic, aggressive language. Unfortunately, many inexperienced copywriters will resort to such tactics to push sales. Your goal is to find a copywriter who can entice your clients without mismatching your brand identity.

The Right Voice

As a nonprofit or changemaking organization, how you express yourself is almost as important as the words you say. The wrong voice can leave your core message lost in the dust. Tone and voice work together to help you align your brand with your audience’s interests.

A good copywriter abandons their own voice in favor of yours — while matching your tone. For example, you may have key words that express your brand, even if you don’t know it. When you’re in a do-good organization or business, using the right words is essential to connecting with your audience. Find a copywriter who can choose the best words to get your meaning across most effectively.

For example, consider the following mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Greenpeace uses a long, descriptive sentence to express their interest in connectedness and global impact. They use strategic words such as “peaceful” and “creative” to highlight their core values. The mission statement also uses parallel phrase constructions to show that Greenpeace is methodical and solution-oriented.

Now consider this variation:

Greenpeace connects people around the globe. Through peaceful protest and creative communication, we expose problems and find solutions. We design our campaigns with the belief that our actions are essential to a better future.

This mission statement says the same thing, but with multiple, shorter sentences and a first-person voice. It comes off as more aspirational and with a more youthful voice.

While neither version is grammatically wrong, Greenpeace carefully crafted theirs to suit their brand identity. And because it’s one of the best-known nonprofits in the world, they’ve clearly done a good job. When working with a copywriter, ensure that they understand your mission, values, and goals. That will help them find the right tone and voice for your copy.

Wrapping Up

When evaluating a copywriter, ask them questions about these characteristics to determine their fitness for your project. Talented copywriters can adapt their writing skills to your business’s or organization’s needs. Moreover, they demonstrate the cultural competence and linguistic sensitivity that are needed to reach your audience in a responsible way. Socially conscious, well-tuned copy is essential to any changemaking organization’s success.

At Lyra Creative Studios, we specialize in copywriting for changemaking organizations, including culturally conscious language. Reach out to us for your copywriting needs.

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