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Don’t Let “-ing” Kill Your Nonprofit’s Tagline

Posted by on July 30th, 2009
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Copywriting, Nonprofit Taglines    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s time to drop the gerund from your tagline. The gerund — that “-ing” suffix found at the end of some of your favorite verbs — has the magic power to drain the life out of some of your most powerful statements.

Compare the taglines of two similar animal welfare organizations:

Engaging the hearts, hands and minds of the community to help animals (Animal Humane Society, Golden Valley, MN)

We take them in, you take them home (Animal Defense League, San Antonio, TX)

In the first example, “Engaging the hearts, hands and minds” puts the focus on the organization. The subtext is “We’re doing these things, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

The second example speaks directly to the reader. “You take them home” is a command, letting the reader know what steps she should take.

Now remove the “-ing” verb from the first example. With a small rewrite it can become: “Open your heart, hands and mind to help an animal.” The new tagline is more engaging and helps the reader see how she can become involved.

Try it with your own tagline, and let us know if it works.

(Want to know more? Download our handout Messages That Move: Your Guide to Creating Taglines That Get Results.)

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Zach Hochstadt is a Mission Minded Founding Partner and runs Mission Minded’s Denver office, leading the company’s creative teams in the areas of message development, writing, graphic design, and web design and development.

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