Are you venustating the world?

standing out, nonprofits, languageVenustate: to make beautiful; improve

Like you, I spend a lot of time thinking, and talking/writing, about improving things. Everything from blog posts, web copy, newsletters and Mission Statements to nonprofits, communities and the world.

Who wants to improve when you could venustate? Venustating a blog post or–thinking big picture–the world sounds so much more fun and important, doesn’t it?! (Clearly, venustate wouldn’t be appropriate in all contexts, but a super fun swap-out for word-savvy readers like you.)

We often perendinate expanding our vocabularies.  Who has time to learn new words when we’re awash in so many already?!

Between texts, emails, Facebook, and good ol’ fashion convos, words come at you at a breathtaking pace.

And therein lies the opportunity.

If you want more people to support your nonprofit, this onslaught of words is precisely why learning new words presents such a big opportunity–it’s one of the easiest, cheapest ways to get, and keep, attention!

And getting attention is the first step to getting people on your nonprofit’s Engagement Cycle.

You may recall that when we did the research for The Wordifier, we learned that nonprofits were using a scant 5% of the words in the English language. Let me say that differently: five percent.

Let’s flip that sad fact on its head: 95% of the words in the English language are out there waiting for nonprofits to use them to get, and keep, people’s attention. This is why Lesson 4 of Claxon University’s Words on a Mission course focuses on creating an Organizational Lexicon. It builds in an opportunity to take advantage of the 95% of hardly used words.

[Important, related side bar: Interesting, brand-defining words are particularly important for your Mission Statement.]

To be clear: stringing together a bunch of hardly used words isn’t the answer to your engagement woes. Rather, plucking out a choice verb, adjective, and/or noun from your ever-expanding vocabulary and pairing it with more common words lands you in the sought-after messaging sweet spot.

One of the easiest ways to become a vocab rock star is to subscribe to’s Word of the Day feature. I never cease to be amazed at how many of the words I don’t know…and find super handy as soon as I do!

Or, if like quirkier words, check out Unused Words. Their commitment to keeping the vivacity of the English language alive is unparalleled. #Gratitude

***Take a few minutes to see if Claxon University is for you! At $2.60/day, it might be one of the best investments you can make in your organization this year.***

Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease 62.6, Grade Level: 8.2

Will you DTO for GiveBIG?

At this morning’s Claxon Forum we talked a lot about the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG, which is coming up on May 2. GiveBig is a “one-day, online charitable giving event to inspire people to give generously to nonprofit organizations who make our region a healthier and more vital place to live.” There’s a pool of funds allocated to “stretch” gifts made that day.

As a result, it’s a flurry of donor outreach around here! Donors are getting emails, letters, tweets, postcards, and Facebook posts about this opportunity from organizations they know and love.

Problem is: most donors (myself included) know and love a lot of organizations. It’s one day. How will we decide which non profit(s) to support?!

Based on the organizations and donors I talked to last year, decisions were based on 1) a really good just-in-time final reminder and/or 2) an organization’s ability to stand out during the lead up to the big day.

This could be a really good time to DTO–Do The Opposite. Switch up your messaging. Try something new. Grab them by the proverbial lapels and get their attention! In a case like this, a little DTO could go a long way.

If you’re planning to participate in GiveBIG, how will you stand out? If you’re in another part of the world, is it time to DTO?

Although this won’t work for everyone, TeamRead’s unconventional approach with Mr. GiveBIG Chicken was a big success last year. We’ll see how he fares this year!



Match the Non-profit Taglines!

Messaging is an important part of differentiating your organization. And your tagline is an important part of your messaging. It lets people know how you’re different-or the same- as other organizations. Often, it clarifies your Why (aka your Belief Proposition).

See if you can match these famous non-profit do-gooders with their taglines. Did they do a good job of using their tagline to stand out from the crowd?

Quizzes by | SnapApp Quiz Apps
How did you score? What was the most difficult nonprofit to match?

Nonprofit Messaging Sweet Spot

Aim for the gray spot!

In preparing for a recent client meeting, I took a stab at creating a visual to explain the ‘messaging sweet spot.’ It ain’t the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen (I’m no artist!), but it gets across an important point.

We usually aim for the middle of a Venn diagram. Not so with messaging, non profit or otherwise! If your messaging lands in the middle, you’re working harder to stand out because you’re using words that your competition is also using. The goal is to stand out, not blend in.

Does your messaging hit the sweet spot?

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?