How to create a compelling call to action

 Whether you’re asking for $25, or $25,000, developing a well-crafted call to action will help your fundraising campaign skyrocket to success.

A weak or missing call to action can have the opposite effect – donors, feeling unclear and lacking that crucial sense of urgency, turn their attention elsewhere, consigning your important message to the mental recycling bin.  

With year end quickly approaching, you can’t afford to lose your donors’ attention with a wishy-washy call to action.

Now is the time to take your CTA for a tune up, and make sure it’s firing on all cylinders!   

Here are five things to check on as you are crafting or improving your CTA - as well as the one thing to never, ever include in your call to action. 

It’s focused

I get it – you have a lot going on, and it’s so tempting to slip in an ask to volunteer, sign a petition, or come to an upcoming event.

No matter how you’re communicating your call to action, stay laser focused on your one most important request. 

Of course, you may offer a number of options after the donor takes that first step – for example, your holiday mailing may be focused on making a year-end donation, and your reply coupon has an array of 3 to 4 different gift amounts.

But take care not to muddy the waters by throwing in an insert inviting the donor to your upcoming gala.

It’s clear and directive

A great call to action is straightforward, and gives the donor clear instructions on what to do when.

I love this example of an effective call to action by Agents of Good from their Humber River Hospital campaign, which features a powerful involvement device for the donor:

I’ve included a special heart for you with this letter. I invite you to sign your name, or write a hope filled message, to celebrate and inspire everyone who walks through the doors of the new Hospital on October 18th.

It works so well because it clearly, but gently, tells the donor exactly what to do, how to do it - and it’s bound by the upcoming opening of the hospital. 

It’s urgent/time sensitive

A deadline always helps motivate donors to take action. If you don’t have a built-in deadline, think creatively. 

Is there a time coming up that impacts donors’ giving habits, like Ramadan or Christmas? 

Is there a time when the needs you are fundraising for become even more urgent, like back to school, or the first day of winter? 

Can you use time limited opportunities, like a matching gift, to motivate your donors to take action now? 

However, there’s one deadline to never, ever use in a call to action:

That’s your organization’s fiscal year-end. 

Nobody – and I mean nobody – is truly motivated by the fact that you’re going to fall short of your fundraising target by June 30. 

It’s repeated

Don’t be shy about repeating your call to action multiple times. It’s a must. 

You’ve probably heard the old marketing adage that a person needs to receive a message seven times before they take action. 

There are countless ways you can stay true to your call to action without seeming too repetitive: you can vary your language, use an evocative story, include a great quote or a moving lift note from someone impacted by your cause. 

P.S. Don’t forget your P.S.! It’s the most important place for your clearest, most strongly phrased call to action. 

It’s framed by a dynamite case

Even the most powerful call to action won’t move the donor if you haven’t led up to it with an incredible, compelling case for support.

Developing a compelling case is one of the most important steps you will take to support your fundraising growth.

A great case for support document does not have to be long, or glossily designed. Instead, think of it as a simple source document that serves as the basis of all your fundraising messaging and fundraising communications – from your digital campaigns to your face to face major gift solicitations.

Before you launch your next fundraising campaign, will you sit down and spend just a few minutes to craft a powerful call to action that will raise more money for your amazing cause?

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