Guidance for guest authors

NCVO aims to reflect a range of viewpoints from within the voluntary sector. We commission guest bloggers from a variety of backgrounds to share their thoughts and expertise in NCVO blogs.

If you’re writing a blog post for NCVO, this page has some guidance that you might find helpful.

Get a feel for what works

Here are posts that we think work particularly well.

Post Description
Please no ‘safety net’ for charity clichés Great use of language – simple, eloquent, and written with passion.
Spending Review 2013 – a two minute guide for charities Dry content made digestible. Good use of subheadings.
Ten things I have learnt as a trustee The author is writing what he knows – short, snappy and practical.
Transparency of Lobbying Bill – unintended consequences or Trojan horse? A narrative style, without subheadings, can sometimes be effective. A great snapshot of the lobbying bill by Elizabeth Chamberlain in August 2013.

Decide on an audience, and plan everything round them

Picture who’ll be reading your post – think of someone you know. What are they interested in? How will your post help them? Use these starting points to create an outline of your post.

Help the reader find out more

If you’re making statements of fact or citing figures, include a link to the source. This helps interested readers find out more.

Write for you on your worst day

When most of us are online:

  • it’s difficult to get our attention
  • even when you’ve got it, we scan content rather than reading it
  • we can’t even manage that for very long (just over two minutes per page).

This means it’s a good idea to:

  • Keep your post short – if it’s longer than about 550-600 words, most people won’t be online long enough to read it.
  • Use subheadings and bullet points to increase readability and scanability.

Keep your language simple, and your tone conversational

Don’t dumb down your ideas, but do communicate them in the simplest possible way.

  • The Plain English Campaign’s A-Z of alternative words is great. For example, write ‘use’ rather than ‘utilise’, and ‘now’ instead of ‘at the present time’.
  • Your style should be closer to how you would speak to a friend, rather than if you were writing an academic article.

Our editorial process

NCVO’s editorial team will fact check and edit guest blogs.

  • We value diverse tones of voice and will always aim to preserve the voice of the author. However, we will edit pieces to a house style, which includes things like abbreviations and capitalisation. We use the Guardian style guide.
  • We’ll check back with authors for changes that alter the meaning of the piece, but not for minor edits.
  • We try to keep our blogs concise. We’ll usually edit for length if a post is over 600 words.

Right of refusal

It is rare for NCVO to refuse to publish a post, but we may occasionally decline to publish content.

The two most common reasons are:

  • Advertorial-type content that aims to promote products or services rather than inform the reader.
  • A lack of substantive content. Posts must contribute to debates surrounding issues in the sector – that contribution can take the form of research, analysis and/or opinion.

It’s quite rare for us to request substantial changes to guest posts, or to refuse publication. If the need arises, we ask our authors to discuss changes with the editor at NCVO in a constructive way. However, NCVO’s decision is final.

Full ownership of the content by NCVO

Authors are welcome to post complementary content and link to the post on the NCVO blog, but may not reproduce it in its entirety.

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