Voice & Tone
At Neon One, we’re passionate about helping nonprofits build a brighter tomorrow. That’s why we strive to communicate in a way that positions us as a helpful supporter of the organizations we serve.
At our core, we are collaborative, positive, and sincere. We know we’re not the heroes of our story — our amazing, hardworking customers are. Our job is to shine a light on their efforts and help wherever we can.
Neon One’s voice is:
We strive to create a welcoming community by meeting everyone where they are, from start-up to enterprise. While we do bring years of knowledge and hands-on experience to the table, we know our way is not automatically the best way. We’re always open to creating a dialogue, and working together toward a common goal.
We're real humans. Conversations with our team aren't just "tech provider to client" — we take a more empathetic approach. We want to hear about your nonprofit, its issues, your long-term goals, your mission — not just to gather information, but because we're invested in your success.
We're envisioning the nonprofit sector as it can be, not as it is. We focus on the positive rather than the negative. We believe in best-case scenarios, but we're always prepared for anything, just in case. Our customers are changemakers, working hard to make the world a better place. We're here to be a guide and a cheerleader as they make good happen.
Neon One’s tone varies by situation. Generally speaking, we encourage a friendly, conversational approach to communication
We want our customers to think of us as a natural extension of their staff, so we ditch the complicated tech-speak in favor of more approachable language that actually educates and informs.
Above all, we choose words with empathy and inclusivity in our hearts and minds. Neon One is a brand, but it’s also a community dedicated to making everyone feel welcome, comfortable, and supported.
If you’re not sure if a piece of content adheres to our voice and tone guidelines, use the following writing principles as a gut check:
- Be Clear: Research common questions on the topic you’re writing about, and make sure clear, concise answers are emphasized in the copy—breakdown complex topics into short, digestible paragraphs. Explain what makes certain practices effective, rather than simply labeling them ‘best practices’.
- Be Positive: Make negative statements positive. Avoid phrases like ‘need’ and ‘should’ by swapping them for ‘can’ and ‘could.'
- Be Consistent: Keep formatting consistent across the channel of publication. This consistency will support our overall brand recognition.
Grammar & Mechanics
The following is an ever-growing list of writing mechanics specific to our brand voice. If anything hasn’t been specified below, please refer to recommendations from the latest Associate Press Stylebook.
Before using abbreviations, spell out the phrase being abbreviated in full at first mention.
Write in active voice by following a ‘subject-verb-object’ sentence structure. Here are a few examples of what we mean:
- The foundation raised millions.
- We will release an update soon.
- The research highlighted the importance of donor retention.
Passive voice weakens your message's clarity, although there are a few times where it can and should be used. If your goal is to emphasize action over the subject, passive voice can actually be more effective than active voice. Please use this technique sparingly, if at all.
Capitalization should be reserved for proper nouns (Mike, Kirsten, Neon One, Neon Fundraise) and titles, but only when used before a proper noun.
When talking about our products, only capitalize Neon One product, feature, and page names (ex: Neon CRM, Nonprofit Profile, Admin Panel). You don’t need to capitalize on user group names (ex: nonprofits, system admins, nonprofit hosts).
We’re pro-contraction! They make written content more personable and friendly.
In general, we use emojis sparingly — mostly on our social media handles.
Here are some quick notes on punctuation:
- Use exclamation points (!) sparingly. Rely on your tone to convey your good mood.
- We’re pro-oxford comma. It adds additional clarity.
- Use an em dash (—) without spaces on either side to offset an aside.
- Use a colon (rather than an ellipsis, em dash, or comma) to offset a list.
- Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into a single phrase or to indicate a span or range.
Time should be noted as XXam/pm TIMEZONE. The Time zone defaults to the event host. Ex: 12pm ET
- gives days
- giving events (capitalized when referring to Neon Giving Events)
- login (adjective, noun), log in (verb)
- nonprofit (one word, no dashes)
- system admin
- third-party (adjective), third party (noun,
- year-end (adjective), end of year (noun)
- CCM: Client & Case Management
- FEP: Fundraising Effectiveness Project
- P2P: Peer-to-Peer
Words to Avoid
The phrases and words listed below can be used but sparingly, Consider their more effective swaps instead:
- Instead of ‘leverage’ or ‘utilize’, try ‘use’. It’s simpler and easier for readers to understand.
- Avoid using buzzy corporate jargon (like best-of-breed’, ‘growth hacking’, etc). Instead, speak to the outcome-based value drivers of our products.
- When writing advice-based content avoid ‘need to’ or ‘should’. Swap them out for ‘can’ and ‘could’, and back your recommendations up with information on why the practice is effective.