CopyCon 19 served up helpful tips and takeaways for not for profits to learn from


2 days. 22 speakers and a room of 160 clever copywriters who are taking their content writing to the next level.

 Australia’s only dedicated conference for copywriters was back for a third year on May 4 – 5, 2019. 

This time it swapped its view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for eclectic rooms under the iconic Melbourne Arts Centre spire. CopyCon is organised by Kate Toon of The Clever Copywriting School and brings together leaders and innovators in content and copy from across the land and over the pond.

The conference has kick-started the careers of oodles of copywriters and pushed the refresh button for in-house content writers, marketing and communication managers, freelance writers and respected word wranglers.

As a campaign copywriter and community engagement consultant for nfpo’s and social enterprises, I was back for the third year of CopyCon insight.  While speakers filled my head with takeaways to build my business, there were great tips for not for profits to pick up and run with as well.


My top 5 CopyCon takeaways for charities and not for profits are:-

1. Assess your skills and oust the imposter syndrome

Robert Gerrish, founder of the Flying Solo community and wise owl for small business spoke on Imposter Syndrome. While there’s a line-up of freelancers wrestling with this challenge, there’s also ample nfpo’s questioning their place and how they make a difference in the global community. Robert’s advice? Look at your offering with honesty and assess what’s putting the brakes on your success.  If you’re a small charity, check in with your skillset and take stock of what’s missing.

Tip: Read Robert Gerrish’s The 1-Minute Commute. Or follow him on Linked In and listen to every podcast he’s spoken on. He’s a thoughtful sort.

2: Build an unbeatable brand for you and your community

Suzanne Chadwick, Connection Exchange Founder  delivered the brightest presentation I’ve ever seen (complete with Carnivale head-dress). As a branding expert, Suzanne reflected the journey that many not for profits also embark in harnessing the connections people look for with charitable associations.

As Suzanne rightly tells it, we’ve moved through the industrial and technological revolution and are now planted firmly in a revolution of the heart.

People want to work with brands and associations with a value base – so put your organisation through that filter and assess the emotional connectors of your supporters. As you stand up for what you believe in,  check that you’re consistently showing up in the platforms and forums your supporters and potential donors spend time in.

Suzanne shared a formula that’s worth taping to your wall to build on your brand engagement model:

Brand strength = reputation + visibility + uniqueness + emotional connection drivers.

You dare to care when you audit and assess your communications. Taking time to assess your reputation and visibility can help you claim your space in thought leadership, in influencing actions and inspiring change.

Some of Suzanne’s takeaways to help build on charitable reputations are:

  1. Focus on developing ambassadors
  2. Check in with feedback loops and how that informs content strategies
  3. Ask if we are ready to claim our space via structured thought leadership strategies and posts
  4. Surprise and delight – what little things can we do to make supporters feel special?
  5. Ask if we are measuring uniqueness, reputation, visibility and if we’re adapting and moving with the times

Tasks like this help move brands and organisations from the minds of customers into the hearts of community.

Tip: Check out Suzanne’s brilliant Brand Builders Lab podcast – especially the one on building your customers journey ecosystem.

3: Make taglines work

Ryan Wallman is the creative director and copy head of Wellmark, Australian Healthcare Agency. He’s also a self-professed defender of the small and misunderstood – apostrophes and chihuahuas.

Ryan’s talked reflected the success of numerous charities who’ve elevated into heads and hearts to inspire giving thanks to their taglines.

Here’s a few Australian charities I regularly refer to when talking taglines:

The Royal Flying Doctor Service: The Furthest Corner;  the finest care; Salvation Army: Thank God for the Salvo’s;  Australian Red Cross: People helping people; The Smith family: Everybody’s family; Thine Green Line Foundation: We protect nature’s protectors; Fitted for Work: Helping women find work and keep it.

Ryan shared the taglines greats that have remained timeless –

  • De Beers – a diamond is forever (created in 1947 and credited with the invention of the engagement ring – also shadowed culture)
  • Kit Kat – have a break, have a Kit Kat (unchanged since it was first written in 1957)
  • M&M’s – melts in your mouth not in your hand (unchallenged and still loved since it was written in 1967)

What’s the point of a tagline, you ask? Lucky an expert like Ryan’s was on hand to answer.


  • Leave the key brand message in the mind of the target
  • Teaches significant lasting meaning
  • Clearly state that if you get nothing else from this ad you get this message
  • Highlight your strengths
  • Pique interest
  • Become a distinctive brand asset
  • Can be legally protected

When its well-crafted your tagline offers a competitive advantage.  Ryan’s key tips for writing great taglines are:-

  • Be honest, identify your truth
  • Don’t try to be too clever
  • Avoid corporate gobbleydook
  • Explain your important truth
  • Work with a copywriter (ahem, shuffles notes, I may have added that, but I think Ryan might agree)

When an organisation can articulate what it can do or makes a difference in a few simple words, that’s good tagline material. If you’re just starting out or rebranding your not for profit, have a think about how your tagline communicates your force for good.

Tip: For inspiration check out this summary of “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman focussing on how and why we think

4. Invest time in your website

Kate Toon, creator of The Clever Copywriting Community, Founder of Recipe for SEO Success and co-host of Hot Copy Podcast delivered a keynote talk about a mindset shifts that was as sparkly as her conference shoes. Over the years I’ve worn out vats of pen ink taking note of Kate’s helpful shares and tips.

Kate shared these pearlers:

  • Your website is like your dating profile. Make it sound different – don’t be vanilla
  • Take good photos – in a sea of bland be different
  • Find your voice and make sure it’s not generic or cliché
  • Be a content creator and curator of useful and insightful information
  • What does your meta title description say about you? Can you improve it to help click throughs?
  • Google your organisation and discover the online discussion are around you
  • Use that insight and the way you are referred in tailoring content development

Kate’s knows her stuff. And she knows that you have to be visible to kick-start that engagement. Stepping up to those  networks through Linked In posts and Facebook lives are one small step for content, one great leap for organisations who want to lead the conversation.

Tip: Tune into Hot Copy podcast as Kate chats to some of the copy greats. I like this one with Cath Fowler on the Psychology on copy

5. Bridging phrases are a copywriter’s best friend

Bernadette Schwerdt the founder of the Australian School of Copywriting, the head copywriting tutor at the Australian Writers Centre. She’s also a copywriter I’d love to be marooned on a desert island with.  Entertaining, resourceful and smart – she could probably talk a coconut into making itself into a curry for us.

As Bernadette reminded us, copywriting is the art of communicating with intent. It’s not just about the words, it’s about the impact the words have on people

Copy invites you in. People see their truth on the page or screen and the storytelling element of copywriting can reinforce how you will solve their problem

Bridging phrases are a terrific way to communicate e why your organisation or campaign is worth committing to. Some of the tried and tested bridging phrases are …

  • That’s good for you because …
  • Which means that …
  • What’s in it for you is that …
  • The best part about it is that …

And there’s countless others but that’d be giving all our secrets away.

Tip: Bernadette writes a great headline too. Check out her blogs.

My CopyCon cameo:

I presented a Master Mind session on respecting and upholding boundaries when working on deadlines with clients.  Saying no when the timing isn’t right, and setting up professional boundaries is a mammoth tasks many freelancers wrestle with.  When I first started out I had firm plan for a workstyle that reflected my values, my family needs and my respect of others. So, when I do say no (even if I want to say yes), there’s considered thought and helpfulness that’s delivered with it.

I shared some time and emotion saving processes and tips.  Get me!  Presenting at the Melbourne Arts Centre. Every part of me wanted to bust out in a show tune.

CopyCon was all heart and helpfulness, nurturing collaborations and copy insights   

Plugging my copywriting batteries into this powerpack recharged my content and creative copywriting. 

Want to know more? I’d love to tell you how I can apply CopyCon takeaways to make a difference for your organisation.



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