Your words matter.
Everything you say about your nonprofit is either pulling people in or pushing them away.
Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about marketing messages like newsletter articles or social media posts, or fundraising messaging like appeals or thank-yous.
Sweet words draw people in like honey.
Boring words repel people like vinegar.
So, what are the right, sweet words you should be sharing? How do you steer clear of the vinegar so people don’t leave your nonprofit to go find another one to support?
Fundraising messaging is about emotion
Good fundraising messaging hits the audience in the feelz.
It’s short, concise, and easy to understand, never confusing. It’s full of inspiration and makes the reader/listener FEEL something.
Your messaging should describe a problem that evokes an emotional response – people need to care about the problem you’re defining and want to do something about it.
Depending on your cause, you may want your donor to feel
- or something else
They need to feel a sense of urgency that something needs to be done NOW to solve the problem. Otherwise, there’s no reason for them to give or take action NOW.
And they need to believe that your nonprofit is ideal to provide the solution. (That’s when they’ll give.)
These are the critical points your fundraising messaging must make if you want it to be effective.
Know your audience
It’s important to note that your fundraising messaging should appeal to your donor’s emotions and interest, not yours.
If you write for yourself, you have an audience of one. Not great odds if you want to fully fund your nonprofit.
So what does your audience want?
Here are 4 tips to help you create messaging that will move your audience to take the action you want them to take, whether that’s making a donation, volunteering, or spreading the word.
1. Be interesting to your reader. Everything you share should be written with your audience in mind. Ask yourself “What does my donor care about? What part of my programs set her heart on fire?” It’s not this: “We’re a 501c3 nonprofit”. No one will give because you are a nonprofit. Nonprofit is a tax status, not a reason to give. Put yourself in your donor’s shoes and make a list of the reasons why she might give to your nonprofit. Then use those in your fundraising messaging.
2. Facts tell, stories sell. When you’re communicating with your audience, you can share ONE well-chosen fact. Then tell a story that will grab them by the heartstrings. Don’t inundate them with lots of numbers – that’s overwhelming to the average person and they won’t be able to translate those numbers into something that matters.
If your nonprofit is new, talk about what you’re going to do and WHY it matters. Your WHY is where your passion is.
For example, a food bank might know that 109,000 people in its service area are food insecure. But, if you share that, people will glaze over. That’s a huge number and without context, it’s hard to understand. Plus, there’s jargon they won’t understand.
It’s critical that you follow that one statistic with a story about one person who is struggling with hunger. Maybe talk about Marie, a single mom with 2 kids and 3 part-time jobs, trying to make ends meet. Describe how it works until one of the kids gets sick or needs new shoes or her old rattle-trap of a car breaks down. Then she doesn’t have enough money to cover everything.
With a story, people can start to relate to Marie and feel empathy, which leads them to want to help. When you end with a clear call to action, your reader will want to get involved and make a difference for those like Marie, and you’ll see the results you’re looking for.
3. People want to fund your impact, not your existence. Hardly anyone outside your organization cares about your budget (maybe a foundation thinking of giving you a grant) or your internal goals.
So don’t ask people to give to your
- Annual fund (most people don’t even know what that is)
- Annual appeal (your appeal is the mechanism for the gift, not the reason to give)
- Annual budget (there’s nothing appealing about supporting a budget)
Here’s the truth: Your nonprofit doesn’t have needs. Those you serve have needs. Focus your fundraising messaging on those whose lives you are changing. That’s what people care about.
4. Use Hero Language. The whole reason people give is to help make a difference. In short, they want to feel good. So, use phrases like these:
- “Because of you, little Timmy got help learning to read.”
- “With your support, we can eliminate the waiting list for our …”
What you DON’T want to use is what I call Fundraising French: “we did this” and “we did that” – we, we, we. No “we reached our goals.” No “Give to our annual fund.”
Your messaging should set peoples’ hearts on fire and inspire them to get involved. Give them a reason to care and they’ll give just so they can feel good.
In this day and age, people love the chance to make a difference and feel part of something that matters. Fortunately, you can help them with that.
Watch this video as I explain the importance of messaging to donors.