How To Write A Call To Action For Your Online Fundraising Campaign

Rob Wu
Rob Wu

What do online fundraising campaigns live and die by?

It’s not their supporters. It’s not their timing. It’s their call to action.

A call to action is a specific, defined, and measurable action, such as making a donation or sharing your fundraising site on Facebook.

I’ve seen nonprofits spend months on creating the perfectly designed site with the perfect video, but not get off the ground because their call to action was weak. The site doesn’t guide their supporters through defined actions that they should be taking.

Read our complete guide to fundraising campaign planning here to learn all of the must-do steps in order to plan your next successful fundraising campaign.

Let’s see how we can solve that problem.

Laying the Groundwork

With any online fundraising campaign, you have to have a compelling story. You can share this story through video, images, or text.

The main purpose for your story is to communicate the need and purpose for fundraising and to build up an emotional response from the donor.

Your call to action is their release to that emotional response.

Why is a Call to Action So Important?

Two big reasons why you need a call to action.

  • It drives action. You can have the most compelling video storytelling and the largest support base, but if you don’t clearly tell them what you want them to do, then they’re not going to do it.
  • It is measurable. When you are directing your supporters to complete an action, then you can see your progress towards a goal.

Make it Clear What You Are Asking For

One big mistake that many nonprofits make with online fundraising is burying their call to action within a wall of text.

Reading online is much different than reading offline; your site visitors scan text rather than reading every word. To make your call to action clear, you should do three things.

  • Be concise with your fundraising appeal (300 – 400 words as a general rule)
  • Use styling (bold, headlines, bullet points, etc) to make your appeal skimmable
  • Have focus. Don’t have any more than two tasks within your call to action, otherwise, the actions become diluted.

Never be Afraid to Ask Multiple Times

In a fundraising campaign, you should have at least one call to action that asks people to donate. This can be done through a donate button as well as the text that leads the person to the donate button.

However, you can also ask in softer ways throughout the entire fundraising site or appeal that drive the individual to the donate button. Having the same call to action multiple times throughout an appeal can help drive more results.

What Should a Good Call to Action Say?

A good call to action for an online fundraising campaign will do three things.

  • Provide a brief, one-sentence summary of the online fundraising campaign itself
  • Build in a sense of urgency so people take action now instead of later
  • Use active language through verbs (click, donate, share, etc).

Here’s an example of these practices at work:
The goal of this campaign is to save the lives of 100 homeless animals. You can make a difference by donating before July 31, so that the shelter will not need to start turning animals away. Click the donate button today.

Always Be Testing

Testing allows you to figure out how you can make your call to action better and more effective. The easiest way to test is to come up with a handful of variations in your call to action. Then show them to your friends, family, and colleagues and see how they react.

You can also perform more data-driven testing through A/B testing. For example, when you’re sending out an email newsletter, you can test certain phrases and content to see which one gets you to most opens or clicks.

The End Result

If you have a compelling story and a defined call to action, then your online fundraising will be successful. Your call to action helps you measure your progress towards your fundraising goals.

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