Laurel Dykema

Laurel Dykema

I always love getting an email from Laurel Dykema of Mission India. It means we are going to get another great guest blog post on being a nonprofit writer. Today Laurel shares what NOT to do as a nonprofit writer. ~Kristina

Guest Post by Laurel Dykema of Mission India

  1. Don’t write all day every day.

Spending every hour of every working day producing written content might seem like the best use of your time. But it can also give you tunnel vision! I get some of my best content ideas from Facebook pages, email subject lines, questions from interns, news headlines, Hubspot articles, conversations with coworkers, and, of course, Kivi’s blog! So, make sure to spend at least some of your day NOT writing. 

  1. Don’t stop asking questions.

Even if you’ve been working at your nonprofit for years (like I have), don’t stop asking questions! There are always new things to learn. Know a coworker who meets face-to-face or talks on the phone with donors? Ask them about what inspires those donors to give or what kinds of questions donors have. Ask the intern what they were surprised to learn about your nonprofit. Ask your volunteers why they volunteer. The answers to questions like these are so valuable! They can help inspire you to create even more relevant and compelling content.

  1. Don’t take criticism too much to heart.

As a nonprofit writer, don’t make the mistake of seeing criticism as an indication that something is lacking in your abilities. (Criticism is so much a part of our work, sometimes I think it should be in our job descriptions!) The true mark of success is when you are able to take the criticism that is constructive and apply it to your work—and this might sometimes mean allowing it to be created into something different than you originally envisioned. (Does your boss have too many ideas and insights? Get help here.)

  1. Don’t sit in your cubicle all day.

Many writers are introverts by nature, and I know it can be tempting to stay in your gray cubicle rather than interact with your coworkers during your short breaks. But knowing your coworkers can help you build a superhero team—and bring your writing to the next level. You won’t know who to bring on your team if you don’t know them! Another great side effect of break times is coming back to your writing with a fresh perspective. Even a 10 minute break can make a big difference!

  1. Don’t say “yes” to everything.

Once you are known as a writer in your workplace and among your circle of family and friends, you might (like me) get flooded with requests for writing “favors”—everything from proofreading a coworker’s college paper to editing your cousin’s latest novel-writing attempt. Downtime is essential. You need to take a break from looking at words sometimes. If you can, recommend a webinar or resource for them … and then, as the song from Frozen says, “Let it go…” and go do something non-word-related! (More tips about how to gently say “no” here.)


Do any of these “Don’ts” ring true for you? I’d love to hear from you in a comment!

Laurel Dykema joined Mission India in 2010 and currently serves as the staff writer and social media guru. She enjoys Boggle, a well-turned phrase, and a good cup of masala tea.

Published On: September 9, 2015|Categories: Writing Skills and Content|