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3 Genius Copywriting Secrets for Nonprofits

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How to Use Social Media to Improve Donor Loyalty

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There’s one big question I hear nonprofit leaders ask more frequently than any other: What are the smallest, most affordable changes we can make to raise more money this year?

Luckily, there are a whole host of great options. One of the best is communications segmenting. I also believe that making a few smart, simple improvements to how you write for fundraising is another one of the best places you can start.

Below you’ll see three of the most effective copywriting secrets (plus one bonus!) that the best fundraisers use to raise money more effectively. And the great news is that you can start using them at your organization right away.

Let’s take a look!

1. Use Anchoring to Encourage Higher Giving

Fundraising can feel like one big ongoing series of asks. Sometimes those asks are easy to make, and some others feel like pulling teeth. Our first copywriting secret is about how you can subtly frame your ask so that your prospects and donors are more likely to give.

The secret is called anchoring.

In fundraising, anchoring is the process of putting a particular level of giving in someone’s mind as the expectation.

For current donors, the process of anchoring entails suggesting a donation amount above their historical giving levels. For instance, if an individual gave $50 last year, your initial ask this year might be for $75 or $100. This approach is incredibly effective.

For prospects, anchoring entails asking for a specific donation amount. This puts the focus on how much a person would like to give rather than on whether or not they’d like to give. This is another effective use of anchoring.

So the secret is to direct people’s thinking to something bigger than they might’ve expected — giving more or giving sooner than they had in their mind originally.

The goal of anchoring is to encourage larger and more consistent giving, which is something the most effective fundraisers nail.

2. Target Your Donors’ Emotions

There has been a big push in recent years to use impact data to encourage more giving. While this sounds ideal, donors often lack enough context to understand how meaningful the results really are.

Plus, giving is an emotional act.

Great fundraisers recognize this and use emotions to draw donors in, and activate them to give. The more emotional you make the issue you’re working on, the stronger the emotional reward a person feels when they give to support it. By playing up the emotion of donors being able to make a difference in people’s lives, you’re able to provide the positive emotional experience that’s a critical part of donor retention.

One other powerful way to encourage emotional giving is by demonstrating momentum. This is known as playing on people’s fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). You still want people to feel needed — but to show that you’re off and running already is incredibly attractive in terms of fundraising. Let your supporters know that the train is filling up, but you’ve saved some room just for them. (Crowdfunding platforms do an excellent job of this!)

3. Master Microcopy

First of all, what is microcopy? These are the small parts of writing within larger communications that play an outsized role in donor behavior. The reason they are so important is that they are placed at key places, such as when a person chooses to submit their email address or give to your organization.

That’s why organizations can see enormous gains simply by tweaking microcopy in ways that resonate more clearly with donor needs. The changes might seem small or unnecessary but their impact can be truly significant.

One of the easiest ways to improve your microcopy is to make sure that it speaks to your supporters’ needs, rather than your own. For instance, rather than using ‘Sign up for our newsletter’ you might want to use ‘Get FREE social impact stories’.

Like all writing you’ll do to raise money, how you craft your microcopy won’t be guided by how fancy it sounds, but by how effectively it raises money for your work.

BONUS: The Most Important Secret

There’s one more copywriting secret. And it serves as a kind of umbrella over all of the others. Do you want to know what it is?

Test. Test. Test.

Regardless of how well you master the many aspects of great copywriting, at any given moment, you can never be totally sure how well different approaches will work. The best fundraisers know that it’s always worth A/B testing your campaign’s writing before going live with it.

Because the success of your writing will be assessed in terms of its real world impact, which means dollars raised to support your mission.


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  • Mary

    The idea of momentum is good. Some luxury brands are great at using it between the lines. Maybe we need the aura of exclusivity around donors. Also, I know that tone of voice matters when it comes to emotions. You can check out our blog to find out more, by the way. I'll leave the link in the website folder. And thanks for your article - some points were illuminating! All the best
  • Marucs Williams

    This was outstanding. Very informative. Shortly after I sustained a spinal cord injury in 2012, I founded a Non profit called LYDO Life Project. I have yet to go live with my endeavors but I have been working in the capacity of my brands focus which is to assist those in rehabs with resources and peer advisory to rehabilitate them back into the real world. I just moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Atlanta to reconstruct my Life and brand. If you have any resources or knowledge that could help assist my platform, I would greatly be appreciative. Thank you sincerely, Marcus R. Williams [email protected] @lydolife @lydofit
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