Guidance for 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 we think work particularly well.

Post Description
Please no ‘safety net’ for charity clichés Great use of language – simple, eloquent, and written with passion.
The Civil Society Strategy: what you need to know Dry content made digestible. Good use of subheadings.
Nine tips for engaging with politicians Easy to read, listicle style blog – short, snappy and practical.
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.

Familiarise yourself with our content

Look through our existing blogs to see what topics have been written about. You want your blog to be new and relevant, so ideally you should avoid writing about something someone else has already covered. If it’s a popular topic on our blog, consider what will make your blog stand out from the rest.

  • What unique perspective can you bring on the topic? For example, are you a young trustee writing about governance, when the other blogs are written by charity CEOs?
  • How can you make your blog more relevant? Is there more recent data or have there been policy changes since previous blogs were written?
  • What will make readers choose your blog over others? Think carefully about your title and the way you write the blog (see our advice below).

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.

We recommend including at least 4 links in your blog. These can be links to your services and projects, or links to content to help further explain the topic you’re writing about.

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, bullet points and lists to make your post easier to read and scan
  • use short sentences and break up long paragraphs into shorter ones.

Keep your language simple, and your tone conversational

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

  • Avoid jargon. The Plain English Campaign’s A-Z of alternative wordsis 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.

Pick your title

The title is the first part of your blog that readers will see, so you want to make it as appealing as possible.

Depending on your content, consider using number headlines (e.g. 10 things we learnt at…) or how to headlines (e.g. How to recruit more volunteers). Blogs with these headlines tend to perform well, as their titles suggest they’ll be easy to read or teach a reader something new.

If you’re stuck on a title, NCVO’s digital content team will be happy to help.

Illustrate your ideas

Photos, illustrations and graphics can be a great way to illustrate a topic, whether it’s a graph illustrating a data trend or a photo of your volunteers in action.

Your post doesn’t need to include these, but if you would like to use them please share them with us when you’re submitting your blog. Please note we can only include photos, illustrations or graphics that you have the rights to use.

Our editorial process

NCVO’s digital content 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.
  • Research suggests that using short sentences and simple vocabulary broken-up into short paragraphs will improve the readability of online content. We may edit your blog to improve the readability in this way.

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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