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Clear communication is less about the message sent and more about the message received. At Sonder & Tell, we turn to the ‘know, feel, do’ tool to help us organise information. Before crafting copy, we get clear on what we want the audience to know, how we want them to feel about it and – importantly – what we want them to do. 

Clarity on the action you want is especially important for international NGOs, who speak to a range of audiences – from donors to beneficiaries to policymakers – to different ends. Extinction Rebellion is a ‘do-it-together movement’ that rallies independent rebels to make noise around them, Cancer Research UK wants supporters to play a part in beating cancer by donating, while CoppaFeel! focuses on a singular action (check your boobs).

When Action Against Hunger approached Sonder & Tell, they knew they wanted to drastically increase the number of direct supporters in the next five years. Though their work is a matter of life and death, their message was falling flat, and the concept of hunger felt intangible to many potential supporters. They wanted people to know the gravity of life-threatening hunger, feel that change was possible and – ultimately – do(nate). 

The solution to their challenge was a tone of voice that made change feel realistic. So we built a voice that had strong determination built in, one that always focused on action. Less: “We’re a Global humanitarian organisation that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger." More: “We stop life-threatening hunger in its tracks. Join us.” 

Pinpointing what you want your audience to know, feel and do means you can more readily bring them into your mission – no matter whether you’re a charity or a for-profit brand. So before you sit down to craft your next message, ask: what do I want my audience to know, how do I want them to feel, what do I want them to do? 

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“Live in the active voice, rather than passive. Think more about what you happen than what is happening to you.”

― William DeWitt Hyde
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In this interview, we catch up with Action Against Hunger’s former Director of Fundraising and Communications Charlotte Matier, as well as the Deputy Director of Comms Jude Escribano. We spoke about the brands they love for their tones of voice, the challenges of being a global charity organisation and what drew them to work for the nonprofit in the first place: “The simplicity of the message attracted me as a ‘consumer’. And the courage not to overcomplicate the message at the entry point.”

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The Know Feel Do tool is especially useful when you need to deliver difficult information to your audience. At the end of last year, our team were a little baffled when Pret’s price-rise comms won Marketing Week’s campaign of the year. But on reflection, what they modelled for others was a thoughtful way of getting straight to a tough message. In the first line, they told their customers what they needed to know, then helped them feel they were a fair company by explaining that the rise went back to remunerating their team. What did they want people to do? Continue their coffee subscriptions of course.  
Pick a piece of communications from a nonprofit. Break down the message into know, feel, do. Are they clear on their objectives? Could you rewrite it for more impact?

Hit reply to submit your prompt

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century – Steven Pinker
This is Not a Drill – Extinction Rebellion
Reality+ Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy  – David J. Chalmers

Against Copyediting: Is It Time to Abolish the Department of Corrections? – Literary Hub
Corecore is the Screaming-Into-Void TikTok Trend We Deserve – Vice
Outsider's Advantage: Lessons for U.S. Brands From U.K. Creatives – Muse by Clio
#CopywritersUnite nights in Paris, London and Bristol – Vikki Ross 

Words Matter – Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques


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Sonder & Tell · Sonder & Tell, Unit 28 · 40 Bowling Green Lane · London, EC1R 0NE · United Kingdom