Want to improve your online fundraising? Brushing up on your writing skills will help! Writing for a nonprofit is different than writing an English paper or a newspaper article — you have to do some things a little differently. Here are some nonprofit writing tips for nonprofit fundraisers that will boost your fundraising.
One key strategy: focus on effective communication (not effective self-promotion)
The most important part of fundraising is communicating with donors. Effective communication will help donor retention rates skyrocket. Communicating why a donor should give, thanking them in a powerful way, and communicating their impact will keep them engaged with your nonprofit.
Effective communication will also attract new supporters! When donors share stories or updates with their own friends and family, they’re spreading your message for you. A poor communication plan will alienate your donors instead of keeping them around.
Want help? We came up with 4 easy tips that you can start doing now!
Nonprofit Writing Tip: Your writing should be about the donor-not you
Your outgoing communication style should be simple: keep it donor-oriented! Focus on telling donor-centric stories with genuine emotion.
Center donors in your writing by using words like “you” more than “us” or “we.” Variations of “you” catch the reader’s attention. The moment you start focusing too heavily on your organization and not the donor, you’ll lose their attention.
Donors want to get updates about their past gift in addition to appeals. Take time to explain the impact they make! Show them pictures of the people they help. Tell them stories about how their money made a difference. Establish that, without their help, your organization wouldn’t be able to accomplish those things. It’ll make your donors feel good… and when donors feel good about giving, they keep giving.
Want help? Try the Ahern test! It measures how often the word “I” or “we” is used compared to “you” or “your.” This test also measures the reading grade level of your writing. According to this test, donor communications should be at a 6th-8th-grade reading level.
Nonprofit Writing Tip: Keep it simple (but bold)
Avoid long, boring appeals. They’ll get ignored!
Most people glance through letters and emails. Brief, simple sentences are absorbed better than long ones. Donors want to process any information you send them quickly. They are busy, and most communications are checked on the go these days. Donors won’t have time to read a lengthy email or social post.
Bold the important pieces for those that skim while reading. Bolding key phrases will capture their attention. Length is not what’s important here! If you can sum up a message in one sentence instead of a paragraph, do it! Keep it short, bold the important parts, and make a clear call to action. That’s all!
Nonprofit Writing Tip: Storytelling keeps donors engaged
You have a story to tell. You should (hopefully) have a clearly-defined mission and a story behind your work. Tug on donor’s heartstrings by telling those stories!
Your story will make a bigger impression than a list of facts. People engage with stories more easily than they do facts or statistics! Tell your story, show a need, and tell donors how they can meet that need. A good story will connect you with donors, keep you connected with donors, and give your donors confidence that they can make a difference. You can do it all with your story.
There are a time and place for facts and statistics, though. Include these in any impact reports that are sent out annually. Facts are powerful here! Your annual report should still include heartwarming stories, but including facts and statistics shows donors the large-scale difference they make. Whether you use stories or facts, show donors their generosity has a real-life impact.
Nonprofit Writing Tip: Connect donors to your mission
Using powerful emotional language draws readers in and connects them to your mission. Look at your copy. Could you replace any words with someone a little more powerful? Which works better, saying a donor “helped pay for a meal” or saying a donor “saved a family from hunger?” Choosing powerful, emotionally-charged words makes your story even more impactful. Combining gratitude for past gifts with urgent language about new problems will leave your donors willing to help and feeling valued.
Making just a few easy tweaks to language and communication can have a huge impact on your donor retention!
Nonprofit Writing Tip: Grab your reader’s attention (and keep it)
A lot of nonprofits struggle with writing great content. There are lots of other tasks to finish!
Don’t stress. There is no “perfect” way of writing. Just keep it personal, simple, and emotionally powerful. Your story will resonate with your target audience.
Catching and holding your readers’ attention is essential for practically all your printed and digital media, but it’s particularly crucial for your more important annual communications. Your annual reports, for instance, shouldn’t simply consist of a bland letter and pages of financial statistics.