5 words that may be wrecking your year-end fundraising

You may very well be so tired of futzing with your year-end fundraising missives that the thought of even one more tweak makes you break out in hives. BUT if you can muster it, I’d highly encourage you check out this infographic from GrammarCheck.

If you can work up to nothing else, scan your communications for the word ‘very’. Very is unnecessary. Avail yourself of the wonderful list of alternatives at the bottom of the infographic!

Check it Out: How to Make Your Writing Error-Free

[This is the latest weekly post from our intern, Tessa. You can find all her posts here.

Editing (improving your initial writing) and proofreading (final reviewing before publishing) require much more than finding grammar or spelling mistakes. You have to remember to pay attention to flow, keep a consistent voice, eliminate jargon, etc. It’s a lot to keep track of. Even the experienced writer can forget to check for everything when reviewing their (or others’) work.

Recently, I stumbled across some articles that offered such a simple solution that I was surprised I hadn’t though of it sooner…. The ever-handy checklist!

Check Mark

HubSpot and Quick and Dirty Tips put together these amazing checklists (one even printable) to have by your side while editing and proofreading:

Your Essential Proofreading Checklist: 10 Things You Can’t Forget

Grammar Girl’s Editing Checklist

Bookmark them and/ or print them. Now. You’ll thank me. Happy revising!

On your (editorial) mark, get set, go!

editing, editing marks, punctuation, grammar
Speed up your editing with these marks!

Many of us put on our “Editor hat” now and then, but few of us are professional, full-time editors. This guest post is from the two editing pros who make up Tandem Editing. They share their tips being efficient, effective editors.


Daylight Saving Time. One less hour (or so it seems) to get your words out the door. We’ve all been there—an hour away from deadline but not nearly done. We were delighted when Erica asked us to suggest a few editing tips for making the most of the time you have.


Editorial Triage

When you’re one hour away from Go, it’s time to focus your writing and editing on the absolute most important details:

  • Spell all names correctly—and the same way each time. Organization name. Program name. Executive director, board chair, major donors, foundation funders. No really, look them up. If there’s a single mistake you don’t want to make, this is it.
  • Give good directions. Verify every street, email, and website address in your copy. If you’re announcing an event, check the time and date info. Present? Accurate? Visible?
  • Double-check your facts: Don’t confuse your readers or make them doubt your research. Search all numbers, dollar amounts, years of past events, and make sure they present a consistent story.
  • Search for your personal list of most likely pitfalls. If you work for public health, pubicpublic safety, or public schools, make a note to do a find-and-replace. Don’t rely on autocorrect to save you. (It won’t.)
  • Take a look at “the look”—it’s too late to change your mind about fonts and colors, but does anything look weird? Is the logo at the top the most recent version?

Two Sets of Eyes

Your single best strategy is to find someone, or more than one someone, to be your second set of eyes. Print out several copies of your final text—ask one colleague to read only the names and another to read only the numbers. Print a copy at 75% and another at 200%—ask someone with a fresh set of eyes to scan it and circle anything that looks strange.

After you’ve entered all the changes (one by one, carefully), run one final spellcheck, take a deep breath, and Go.

The Calm After the Storm

Don’t let your editorial triage go to waste! After your deadline is met and your text is sent to print or posted online, make yourself a cheat sheet that includes verified names, addresses, and numbers for your organization and all its programs, plus your personal pitfalls list. This is the beginning of an editorial stylesheet, which can be an excellent resource for your organization. Here’s a link to a nifty template.

Connie Chaplan and Kyra Freestar are Tandem Editing LLC: One point of contact; two sets of eyes. Editing and consulting for the non-profit community. www.tandemediting.com


Photo credit: Ms. Daniel’s website for her 4th grade class at Lead Mine Elementary. Proving you’re never too young to start editing!

Word of the Week: Efficiency


daylight savings, time savings, time management
Daylight Savings has us springing forward!

We sprang forward over the weekend.

Upside: More post-work rays of sunshine. Wuhoo!

Downside: You “lose” an hour. Boo hoo.

As if you had an hour to spare–ha! No way. Not with your to-do list, right?

That’s why this week we’re focusing on how to be efficient and get some time back.

This month’s Claxonette (our free monthly e-newsletter) comes out tomorrow. It’s got tips and inspiration for efficiently taking your messaging from yawn to yippee. If you’re not already a subscriber, sign-up here.

Then later in the week, we’ll have a guest post from the duo at Tandem Editing. They’ll share their top tips for being an efficient editor.

My time-saving tip for you: Write your to-do list for the next day at the end of the day. It sets you up to instantly dig in rather than trying to remember where you left off the night before. Sounds silly but it works!

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?