Copy for a Good Cause

TGL Weekly Slice - donors.png

In our last Slice, we went over some basics for making your writing more persuasive, so that your audience is more likely to buy from you.

This week, we’ll show you how to apply those same concepts to fundraising and donations, just for our wonderful Slice-ers who are do-gooders, non-profit staffers, and volunteers -- or who just really want raise some money for people who need it.

Make Your Audience Think You’re Psychic

We've already talked about knowing your audience enough in order to premeditate their needs, so you can more smoothly convince them to buy, baby, buy. The same thing applies to fundraising: Ensure you understand what your donors are really hoping their money will accomplish, before they even know it.

We like to figure this out is through discovery, which is a fancy way of saying, “Let’s talk to your target audience.” Use our handy dandy guide to customer discovery and plan to do these interviews regularly, such as once per quarter or even once a month.

Doing this research on your potential donors can be crucial to understanding their motivations, concerns, and even what other organizations they support instead of yours. This also allows you to weed out the people who probably won’t donate, so that you don’t waste precious time and effort on the wrong audience.

Here are some basic questions to ask:

  • How would they describe the cause you are working on? What words does your audience use, and are they the same words you use?

  • What was the last organization they donated to, and when? Have them describe the experience to you. What made them trust that organization?

  • What do your donors care about the most? Why do they support the causes they say they support? Is there a personal reason?

  • What do they think about donating in general? Are they skeptical? Do they think it makes a difference? Why or why not?

Simplicity is the Goal

When a donor can quickly read your copy, understand what you’re trying to do, and make that snap decision to donate (or not), you’re doing things right. The fastest way to build credibility is to be able to succinctly and clearly convey the importance of your org’s work -- it’s the elevator pitch, the one-to-two sentence mission statement that can make or break your ask.

Overly-complicated, jargon-filled explanations don’t work for a public audience that is only giving you a few seconds of their time online, much less in person. (Ever stood on a corner asking folks to sign a petition? They have to boil the message down to just a few words to get people to stop, and sometimes it’s as simple as, “DO YOU LIKE PUPPIES?!”)

Imagine what your organization would be proud to have accomplished, if all the money you needed flowed right in and all the work was done. Did you get water to people who don’t have it? Did you put more kids in after-school programs? Did you place more puppies in safe homes? 

Then, take your copy, and ask yourself if a teenager can understand it. Better yet, can a kid understand it? Could the words be even simpler? Can you use just a verb and a subject? An emoji? Boil things down as much as possible.

Remember to be Memorable

Being persuasive is about being compelling, so we need to make sure that you're sticky enough to be remembered by your constituents.

One of the most effective ways to be memorable is through empathy: by telling a great story about someone who has benefited from your organization’s work, or who would benefit. Bonus points if you’ve done your customer discovery and understand the personal experiences of your audience, because, if they can imagine themselves in your story, they’re more likely to remember you. Use these resources to start writing better stories.

Another way to be memorable is to let your audience be the heroes of your cause. Ask them to share their personal stories related to your work; for example, if you’re working in mental health awareness, ask your audience to share their own stories about their mental health and feature them on your social media and website. Or, if you have volunteers, ask them to share their stories of working with you and how they've benefited.

They get the thrill of being featured, and they’re more likely to share your link or post your content on their personal social networks.

One last thing: Don’t forget to ASK.

Maybe you put together a very compelling story and a simple, clear ask that makes it obvious why your organization deserves all the dollars. If your audience is ready to donate, put that donate button or link in the most obvious places you can. Make it easy for them to take that action when they’re ready to do it, whether that’s after reading one of your blog posts or looking at one of your Instagram posts.

And, this is really important: Make sure your donation form is also clear, readable, and error-free. Test your forms again and again, because the second your donation form doesn’t work on mobile and your website, your donor will move on to some other worthy cause. (Use these tips to make your donation forms even better.)