Donors don’t open their wallets and make contributions to your organization simply because of the good work you do. And with the ever-increasing competition for the attention of potential supporters, it’s more important than ever that you create an effective nonprofit fundraising call to action.
What is a Nonprofit Fundraising Call to Action?
Nonprofits call their supporters to action in many ways; to volunteer, sign a petition, attend events. A nonprofit fundraising call to action is a special appeal made by nonprofits specifically requesting a monetary or financial donation. This is typically a higher-level ask of existing supporters on your nonprofit ladder of engagement, though the right call to action can spark even strangers to become ardent supporters and donors to your organization.
The following tips will help you create an effective call to action and bolster your nonprofit fundraising efforts.
Essential Elements of an Effective Nonprofit Fundraising Call to Action
Asking people for money is not a passive request. If we separate the term “Call to Action” into its two core components we can start to understand that it takes action on our part to create action on the part of our supporters. There is some truth to the old adage “you don’t get what you don’t ask for.” But blindly asking for money is usually not enough to sustain your operations. Your “call” must be strong enough to garner your supporter’s attention and motivate them to take the requested “action.”
First, we start with a question or challenge for someone to get involved and to make a donation. The appeal can happen on your website in the footer of your page, mid-page on a blog, or on a dedicated page. It can happen as a post on social media, or in printed materials like a postcard or flyer.
The strength of your call and the context in which you make the appeal determines whether your audience chooses to engage and complete the action you are requesting, or whether they ignore the call and move on.
Keep it SIMPLE with this easy to remember anagram for building your own call to action:
When you ask for support, keep it singular - don’t ask for too much in one place and NEVER split your ask. Keep the request to one program, or one service, or one project. If you have multiple projects for which you need support you’ll create multiple calls to action, but display them on separate pages or sections of your website.
A single appeal can be as simple as a section on your website, a graphic in a sidebar or a very focused popover modal, like this one from TobaccoFreeKids.org.
Impact and Outcomes
Research shows that the simple act of framing the ask can increase donations fivefold. Put simply; donors like to know their contribution is making a difference. This helps put the ask into context and taps into the reader’s motivation.
Give your readers information about how the donation helps your organization and how it will be applied to the community you serve. A simple statement about where the money goes or what your organization will do with the donation will suffice.
- “A $30 donation provides crayons for one student for an entire year.”
- “A $500 will keep a family’s light or heat on this winter.”
- “Help Create a Tobacco Free Generation.”
Check out this impact statement from The Cure Starts Now, working to fight pediatric cancer. They show their impact by listing the overall contributions they've received as social proof of their success and the appeal jumps you over to their campaign page to make a donation.
Make It Measurable
Chances are you’re going to have multiple calls to action on different areas of your site that eventually lead to the same donation page. You’ll want to track which call to action drives the most visitors to the donate page and which call to action results in the most donations or the highest value donations.
A simple analytics package like google analytics can help you monitor this. Check in every few months, or more often based on activity, to see which one performs the best and make changes to the ones that are not performing as well.
If you notice that your appeals are sending traffic to your donation pages but the donation page itself isn’t converting then you’ll need to change the content on the donation page or form rather than the call to action. Either way, having metrics in place and an analytics package will uncover these types of issues on your site and help determine where changes are needed.
Pleasant User Experience
When the audience member sees your appeal and clicks over to the page where they can take action don’t give them reasons to click away. The action page should be focused, uncluttered, and move the user quickly through the motivating text and images straight through to where they can take action.
Whenever possible, keep them on this single page. Do not link away to other pages of your site and certainly do not link away to external websites - chances are your potential donors will never return to complete the action.
For your donation forms, use a fundraising CRM like Salsa Engage which allows you to embed fundraising forms directly on your landing pages. This keeps your donors in one place without linking them away to places like PayPal or other donation processors. Even longer forms can be broken down into steps where payment information is separated from contact information and other required elements. This can make the donation form itself seem less imposing while still providing a seamless experience for your users.
At Salsa, designing fundraising forms is literally our business, and we’ve boiled it down to four simple steps you can follow to create the perfect donation form on your nonprofit fundraising call to action pages.
Again, here’s the donation page from TobaccoFreeKids.org after following the call to action shown earlier:
They use Salsa’s multi-step donation form connected to their nonprofit CRM (also powered by Salsa) which moves the donor quickly through the payment process, keeping them on the same page. There are minimal interruptions; no menus and the only links you see on the main part of the page are additional ways to give and a jump over to their action fund which is the political arm of their organization, which is also an advocacy campaign donate page.
As you'll see in the article linked above on designing great virtual fundraising forms, giving the donor options to direct their funds helps to increase your conversion rate and the frequency of their donations. Tobacco Free Kids does this well with options for international donors, information about taxes, and information about donating offline too.
Another factor is giving your users a pleasant experience is webpage speed. Studies have consistently shown that fast page speed will result in a better conversion rate. In other words, the quicker a webpage loads, the more likely a user is to perform the targeted action on that webpage. This is true across all industries and doesn’t matter whether you’re a for-profit entity or nonprofit.
Listen to your Audience
Motives matter and research shows that donors prefer messages that fit their own values. Some donate for internal reasons (tax incentives, personal recognition) while others donate for more altruistic reasons (to help the cause or a specific group of people in need). If you can tap into your audience’s values you will motivate them to donate more frequently and at higher amounts.
It helps to prepare an audience persona for your nonprofit to better understand the motivations of your audience members and the context that will get their attention. We discuss this in more detail in our nonprofit ladder of engagement article and our post on increasing engagement on social media channels.
This is another area where you keep the appeal singular. Do not try to appeal to both motivations. Pick one per call to action and run with it. If you want to capture the people who are self motivated and those who are externally motivated you’ll need to create 2 separate calls to action and place them in different areas of your site.
It helps to break your long text appeals up with graphics and images that are contextually relevant to your appeal. Images of actual audience members, staff, or the group you help are preferable to stock images.
Remember, large file sizes will make your page load slower and that will decrease donation conversion rates. So make sure the images are optimized and consider removing them for mobile views altogether.
Don’t skimp on graphics just because you’re not a photoshop master. A nice image with some text over it can be very effective. Here are two fundraising calls to action from the American Bird Conservancy.
The image above shows a call to action on the organization’s home page and highlights their matching gift program.
The image below shows the header of their donate page which lends additional context to the appeal with more information about where the donation money goes.
Both images are high resolution graphics with simple text placed over them. These are great calls to action that are easily added to any website. And who doesn’t love cute birds?
A Nonprofit fundraising call to action is a necessary component of a modern website and your overall fundraising strategy.
Remember to keep it SIMPLE and follow the steps outlined here to create effective calls to action that will motivate your supporters and help turn them into active and engaged donors and recurring contributors.