6 Tips For Writing Nonprofit Website Copy That Drives Donations

Haley Bodine
Haley Bodine

It is not a surprise to you that your nonprofit website is an essential marketing tool for your nonprofit. It may, however, surprise you that your website copy (the written content and information on your website) is essential to the effectiveness of your website.

Consider making some adjustments in order to dramatically improve your donor experience and conversion rates (read: increase donations).

6 Tips To Nonprofit Website Copy

1. Know The Audience You Are Writing For

Before writing any copy determine the people group you are writing to:

Who is your ideal donor?

What do they do for a living?

Where do they shop?

What do they invest their time and money into?

What makes them tick?

This is called developing a donor persona, and it is not as difficult as it may sound.

You can begin by surveying and interviewing your current donors, prospective donors, and those that are outside of your current reach but are within your “ideal” donor audience.

HubSpot offers a great list of 20 questions to ask as you develop donor personas. They also offer a free persona template to help you stay focused and organized.

The idea here is to develop the persona (demographic, professional markers, communication preferences, social trends, etc.) of your target donors so that you can effectively write your web copy to those individuals.

2. Utilize The Power Of Storytelling

The last thing you want is for your website to be bland, unseasoned, and emotionally detached. If you want your audience to act, you must engage their minds and their hearts.

“If you want your audience to act, you must engage their minds and their hearts…” tweet this

Great storytelling is absolutely imperative to your new website’s effectiveness. Your job is to tell that story succinctly, and powerfully.

If you are new to the idea of nonprofit storytelling, CauseVox has lots of resources for you to gain knowledge and cultivate skilled technique in order to gain engaged supporters through a powerful medium.

Every story has a character, and conflict. Your job is to engage your potential supporters’ interest and emotions, inviting them to be a part of the resolution.

Take a look at how StoryBrand suggests how nonprofits and businesses can approach telling your story.


Photo Courtesy of StoryBrand

HubSpot has compiled a great list of ideas to gain and keep attention. Your website should quickly tell a story that:

  • Tells about your organization
  • Introduces real characters
  • Presents real conflict
  • Invites your audience to be an active part of the solution

3. Choose Your Words Carefully

It can be tempting to become “wordy” when you utilize the storytelling method of writing copy.

However, research shows that you have an average of 5 to 8 seconds of your audience’s attention when they initially land on your site to prove that your site is worth their time and attention.

Therefore, you must focus on being clear and concise, being meticulously deliberate with every word choice.

Here are a few pointers to help you with this:

  • Use clear and concise language. If you can say your point in 5 words instead of 7, do it. Edit, edit, edit. Every word counts and should be purposeful, adding value to your donors. Keep your message clear and simple.
  • Use power words. Marketing research shows that using certain words can dramatically increase your conversion rates. Simple, strategic adjustments can make the difference between a potential donor leaving your website, and a potential donor becoming an avid supporter of your nonprofit.
  • Use numbers to make your story more palatable. Communicate the value of a dollar to your cause. What impact will your donor’s contribution make (i.e. How many people will receive new books, clean water, shelter, etc. with $50)? Numerical data quickly makes your impact real to your potential donors, taking larger than life needs and making them “bite-sized.” Your donors want to know that it is possible to make a difference with their money.
  • Change your pronouns from “we” to “you.” Psychologically this places your audience directly into your story.
  • Use a consistent voice, style, and approach across every page. This is especially important to monitor if you are using multiple writers to produce web copy.
  • Use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You do not want your audience to be distracted from your message or calls to action because of avoidable errors.

4. What Does Your Copy Look Like?

We live in a visually driven world. Content is key, but almost equally important is how the content looks on your website. You can avoid driving away potential donors by being mindful of these things:

  • Make sure your font size is comfortably large.
  • Make your copy “skimmable”. Short attention spans, busy schedules, and the like are all culprits for your audience not fully reading your copy. To drive donations you should make your copy quick to read. Descriptive headlines, subheadings, visuals, bullet points, and short sentences are great methods.
  • Take white space seriously. White space is the unused, unfilled “negative space” on your website. In music, the rests enhance the melodies. Make your website sing by highlighting your call to action and other essential “filled” space with the negative space.
  • Be sure to format your site for all mobile devices as well as desktops. A large percentage of users rely on their cellular phones, and tablets for gathering information, and social purposes. If your new website is designed to be solely optimized for desktop computers you will ostracize a large portion of your potential constituents.
  • Have a simple, clear, visually stunning donation-landing page that includes bold donation amount options, methods of payment, frequency (one time or monthly), and a reminder of metrics (how much of an impact dollar amounts will make).

“Use clear and concise language. If you can say your point in 5 words instead of 7, do it. Edit, edit, edit…” tweet this

5. Include Strong Calls To Action On Each Page

If you want your audience to take a specific action tell them directly. Use verbs. Communicate clearly what it is you want your audience to do. Great web copy that drives donations uses the “who/do” approach: know who are you writing to, and tell them what you want them to do.

CauseVox has great resources for you that will help you formulate strong, compelling calls to action that will drive donations on your website. General principles of a strong call to action include:

  • Using strong verbs (e.g. “support,” “help,” “impact”)
  • Clear, simple, and direct statements
  • Emotional appeal
  • A sense of urgency

Most importantly make sure that your “donate now” buttons are easy to see. Your potential donors are not going to click on what they cannot find.

6. Build Trust With Prospective Donors

The majority of your prospective donors want to know two things:

  1. Where is their money going to go?
  2. Will their financial information be secure? 

You need to quickly and clearly address both of these issues. Consider using verbal copy minimally to direct your audience’s attention to a graph or pie chart that demonstrates your nonprofit’s use of funding.

Secondly, make your commitment to financial security very clear, and follow through on your commitment. Take all necessary measures to protect your constituents’ payment information. Make it your goal to be far above reproach in your financial management and protection of assets, identities, banking information, etc.

Oftentimes simple adjustments in your web copy can make tremendous impact in donor action. Strategic word choice, rich storytelling, quality proofreading, and concise clarity will all help you drive donations.

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