Proooofread. . . Proofreead. . . proofread!

What did we ever do before spell check?  Remember the days when we all had dictionaries at our desks so that we could be sure that our letters included the most appropriate words, spelled and used correctly?  In today’s world, we tend to let our computers autocorrect our mistakes and move on from there.  While autocorrect catches a lot of mistakes like spelling and verb tense, our word processing program will surely not correct inaccuracies in our writing.  For these issues, we must continue to hold ultimate responsibility.  For instance, we certainly want to do all that we can to avoid appearing foolish by transposing a set of numbers or forgetting a decimal point.  We also want to do all that we can to avoid statements that are misleading or patently incorrect.

As the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector® states: “Charitable nonprofits should ensure that any educational information provided to the media or distributed to the public is factually accurate and provides sufficient contextual information to be understood.”  There are so many ways to be sure that we meet this particular standard.  One practical first step might be to institute a checklist of items to review before any written document is released to the public.  Another step to consider is to have a second, third, or fourth set of eyes reviewing all written reports before their release.


Did you know the Standards for Excellence® program’s educational resource packet #22, Nonprofits’ Efforts to Educate the Public, includes a publication checklist that you can employ in your own work to do your part to proofread and double-check your documents?  This packet also contains sample copyright and logo use policies.  This packet is free and available to PANO members.  Find out how to access the FREE Educational Resource Packets by visiting our Member Tips page.

This tip was authored by Amy Coates Madsen of the Standards for Excellence Institute®.

The series is being offered to help you transform your organization based on the best practices in nonprofit management and governance described in the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector®. Learn more about PANO’s Standards for Excellence® program at

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