10 ways to make sure your donors don’t give

Fundraising is all about a call to action. You want the donor to do something — usually make a donation that makes something good happen.

There are a lot of ways to get that wrong! Here are 10 mistakes in calls to action from the Stelter Blog:

  1. Make It About You. (Donors don’t give because your organization is awesome. They give because they are awesome and you’ve shown them you can help them be their awesome selves.)
  2. Use It To Educate. (You can’t “teach” them into giving. Show them the need and give them the action. That’s all.)
  3. Hide It. (Whatever it is you want donors to do, say it early, often, a visibly.)
  4. Be Unrelated to the Content. (Don’t tell a story that isn’t directly connected to the action you want them to take — no matter how cool that story is.)
  5. Be Wordy. (Keep it simple.)
  6. Use Vague Language. (Make it concrete and specific, not abstract and aspirational.)
  7. Oversell. (Your donors weren’t born yesterday. Stay away from commercial-sounding hype language.
  8. Overuse. (Do one thing at a time. If you have several different things you want donors to do, separate them into their own messages.)
  9. Use the Same CTAs for Everyone. (Always be relevant to everyone you ask.)
  10. Be Emotionless. (Giving is an emotional decision. You have to make an emotional case for it.)


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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