Charity copywriting ticklist

Pro tips from expert charity copywriters

Charity copywriting includes writing website content, blogs, case studies, impact reports, social media posts and adverts, direct response promo copy, PPC ads and more. 

The best charity copywriters channel a detailed understanding of their audience into words that ignite change, inspire action, and transform lives. Successful and impactful charity copywriting engages readers’ hearts, evoking empathy and compelling them to act, whether that’s driving traffic to your site or making a donation. 

At 42group, we work with a huge range of charities, helping them build human connections – increasing engagement, raising donations, driving traffic and delivering impact. 

This charity copywriting ticklist provides a breakdown of all the stages we go through when creating content for our clients. We’re giving it to you for free. Work through each stage, and learn what effective copywriting is and how an agency works.

Do you understand your audience?

To create effective charity copywriting, you need to know about your audience. Work through the list here and fill in the gaps. You may not have all the information, but anything you can provide or put together will help you to build a better picture of your audience.

We start with the demographics:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Socio-economic group
  • Income

Then, explore what motivates them:

  • Values
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle

Next, try to describe behaviours:

  • Online activities
  • Social media preferences
  • Giving behaviour

This help sus to understand your audience. Now, we can look at the successes (or struggles) of previous campaigns to engage them:

  • What campaigns have worked and why?
  • What campaigns have failed and why?

We use this information to build a picture of your audience. Some charities create personas. Are they worth it? Personas are fictional characters that represent segments of your target audience. They can help some people visualise your audience’s needs, challenges, and how they might interact with your content. 

Personas are, by their nature, reductive. They can help some people but shouldn’t limit your activities or define your approach. Why? Because personas are often pen portraits of previous audience sectors with whom you’ve successfully engaged. 

Charities are in a constant battle for relevance and must appeal to new and emerging audiences to ensure a constant stream of new donations. Limiting yourself to personas of previously engaged audiences can cause a dangerous blindspot.

So, while personas are useful, don’t be limited by them. 

Analyse current content

Understanding why your audience seeks out your content is key and can help you know whether the content you have is delivering what they want.

If you have access to analytics, we’d look it:

  • Technical aspects (page size, website speed)
  • Visitor behaviour
  • Most popular content
  • Least popular content 
  • User-experience

This provides a clear understanding of how your current audience is engaging with your material. 

Of course, analytics like this only works for online projects where we can access the data, but we can apply an equally forensic approach to online and offline content.

Some agencies love a content audit, where every web page or piece of content is analysed, appraised, recorded and graded. A content audit is a big undertaking, but you don’t need to go through all that effort to identify content that works. Instead, you can take an alternative approach. A gap analysis involves us analysing your website (or other content) through the perspective of your key audience(s). 

We’ll ask:

  • Is the current content delivering the outcome(s) you want? 
  • If not, why not?
  • What new content or changes to existing content will deliver the outcomes you want?
  • In what order should we prepare the content?

The principle here is that by aligning your content with your audience’s intent, you can create more meaningful and engaging copy that drives action. 

Content strategy & briefing

We’re copywriters and content professionals who love working with words, but every successful project is driven by a content strategy that drives production. 

We work with clients to develop an overarching copywriting and content strategy that we translate into individual briefs for every copywriting component. 

You can find a detailed blog (and a free template) on how to write a content marketing brief here, but the principle is the same for all types of content. 

Before writing, we have a ticklist of basic things we need to know:

  • What type of content is it?
  • Who is the content for (your audience)?
  • What is the desired outcome for the content?
  • What are the key messages you want to communicate?
  • Do you have specific requirements for SEO?
  • What do you want people to do when they’ve read the content?
  • Do we know your keywords? (If you don’t, we’ll use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find keywords relevant to your cause.) 

Getting the answers to these questions is part of the briefing process. We won’t start writing until we’re clear about everything. 


This is the simple bit, right? We have a writing checklist, too, which helps us ensure that copy and content are delivered to the right person in the correct format on time.

Before starting, we clarify:

  • Does the client want it in Word, Google Docs or another format?
  • What’s the deadline?
  • Who needs to review it (internally and externally)?
  • What elements do we need to include? (Page titles, meta, etc.)
  • Do you need us to provide certain checks? (For example, we AI check all SEO content to provide assurance it’s 100% original and contains no plagiarised content.)
  • If they use references, what format?
  • Do you have a style guide we have to follow?

Editing for impact

At 42group, every piece of content is edited by someone other than the writer to ensure it’s right for the client. We can broadly break this down into four editorial elements for charities: 

  1. Clarity of message: The heart of charity copywriting lies in its ability to convey messages that are simple, clear and compelling. Does the content achieve this? (If not, how could it be improved?)
  2. Emotional appeal: Humans are driven by emotions – and charities need to tap into this. Does the copy tap into the emotional triggers that motivate your audience? Validation is vital, so we look for evidence through impact statements, testimonials, and vivid imagery – alongside solid facts and figures.
  3. Conciseness: Charities need to be direct and straightforward. Does the copy contain jargon or complex language that could confuse (or bore) your audience? Can we say things more confidently and in fewer words?
  4. Crafting a charity call to action (CTA): Every piece of copy should have a clear CTA that inspires the reader. Is it clear what we want the audience to do (and will they do it)? 

These four elements are the fundamentals of great charity copywriting. Of course, each editor will bring in the critical elements for each client, but these four elements – and how well your content satisfies them – is a useful and effective approach.

Technical checks (charity SEO)

In simple terms, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) ensures that those looking for the information find your content. We regularly work with charities to edit and improve existing content for search engines and ensure it’s a core part of any new copy we create. 

We look at the following fundamentals:

  • Does your content include relevant keywords in titles, headers, and meta descriptions throughout the body?
  • Are the keywords used intelligently and effectively? 
  • Have you optimised images with descriptive alt text and file names?
  • Can we optimise or improve content for SEO without impacting readability and clarity?
  • Do we have a range of internal and external links?
  • Are heading clear?
  • Is text broken up and easy to read on mobile devices?
  • Is it accessible to those with screen readers?

This is a really basic approach to editing for SEO, but it’s a core part of what we do and our offer to charity clients.

Review and refine

When we work with clients, we know we won’t get it right the first time, but by working closely with charities, we can understand what needs to change – and put it into practice. 

We typically work on a ‘test and learn’ basis, starting each project by providing a short sample. In a web project, for example, this could be a single page or several different types of pages (case study, blog, etc.). Once these have been shared with the client, we chat them through and analyse what works and what doesn’t. 

This helps us create our final checklist: 

  • Do we know what the client likes (and why)?
  • What doesn’t the client like (and why)
  • Can we codify this into some simple guidelines?
  • Does everyone involved in the charity account understand this?
  • Can we ensure the lessons become a content checklist to avoid the client having to reiterate them?

This final checklist aims to improve our relationship and make the content production process as simple and smooth as possible. 

Why is your copywriting process so complicated? (TLDR: it isn’t)

Our copywriting process isn’t complicated; it’s comprehensive. The reason is that we’ve seen the outcome of projects where agencies and individuals (often inexperienced freelance charity copywriters) don’t have the resources or insights to do things correctly. 

The process isn’t rapid. As you can see, it’s methodical and meticulous, but it results in the best charity copywriting and content.  

Effective copywriting is an investment as important as design, SEO, and a CRM system. Arguably, it’s more important than all three (but don’t tell them that.) 

Work with a charity copywriting agency

42group is a leading charity copywriting agency with over a decade of experience crafting copy and content to the highest standards. We’re here for you whether you need to refresh or rewrite your website, capture impact in a case study or report, or need social ads that cut through the noise.


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