When you hear the term “copywriting,” you might immediately think of Don Draper and his Mad Men tv peers—advertising men from the 1950s and 60s, pitching campaigns to big-money clients and sipping Old Fashioneds in their offices at lunch.
And if you associate copywriting with sales, it might be difficult to see what it has to do with nonprofits.
The truth is, copywriting has more to do with persuasion than anything else. It’s about the words we choose to spur people to action—whether that’s to purchase, download, or donate.
Nonprofit Copywriting Can Increase Donations
It’s foundational to understand that copywriting is, more or less, writing while taking into account what we already know about humans.
- We have a short attention span.
- We think about ourselves most of the time.
- We like stories about other people.
- Visual clutter leads to overwhelm and makes us want to stop reading things…
- But short, compelling sentences and well-utilized white space can move us through a document at lightning speed.
Effective copy is a cornerstone of successful marketing—and copywriting for nonprofits is a cornerstone of successful fundraising.
How to Give Copywriting for Nonprofits a Try
First, grab your reader quick and early.
There’s a generally-accepted theory that the average human attention span is roughly eight seconds long.
Long introductions, overwhelming blocks of text, and an overly-formal tone require more attention than a casual reader is typically willing to give. These things are best avoided in marketing and fundraising communications.
Instead, stick with clear, concise, and direct messages.
Then, create an emotional connection.
Connecting with your reader is the best way to ensure you’ll have their attention long enough to convince them to donate to your nonprofit.
One of the tenets of copywriting is to create connection by addressing a reader’s pain points. When we’re selling a product or service, it’s more straightforward to think about what might be. Maybe you can save someone time or money; maybe you can take a dreaded chore off someone’s plate.
When it comes to selling someone on your organization’s work, however, finding those pain or connection points is trickier. This is where knowing your unique audience is critical.
Why are your donors supporting you? What keeps them coming back?
Whatever it is, that reason will be your point of connection. And you’ll have to ask in order to know for sure!
Finally, write with clarity and purpose.
Loyal donors and supporters are those who clearly understand and embrace your mission, your work, and the role they can play in each of those things. While you aren’t looking to hit your readers over the head, you do have to communicate the urgency of your need and actually ask for money.
Be clear about what your community is facing, how your organization addresses this problem, and the success you can expect to have.
Then tell your reader why you need the support of your donors and friends. Don’t mince words, and don’t give them the chance to feel confusion.
Remember that you aren’t writing for your old high-school English class. You’re writing for everyday community members who want to hear about your organization in simple, direct, and compelling terms.
Elevate and Amplify Your Message
Good copy works to elevate whatever message you choose. Sure—some marketers use the psychology behind copywriting to sell shady remedies or products that don’t actually work.
But as a nonprofit working for the wellness of your community, you have the opportunity to use the same, highly-effective strategies for undeniable good.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up, and give nonprofit copywriting a try! The results might just surprise you.