Apr 6, 2022

Call to Action Examples for Nonprofits


Have you ever hesitated planning, or even postponed,  a fundraising campaign because your logo, design, theme, invitation, social media, etc wasn’t 100% ready? You can worry about every little detail, but without a strong call to action, not one element of your donor experience will ever happen.

The Key to Success Lies in How You Craft Your Call-to-Action and the Effect it Has on Your Audience

It’s true! An effective “ask” starts with a story that supporters can connect with that moves them to immediately donate, the tangible value their donation will bring, and clear giving instructions. Written calls-to-action differ slightly from those made live, at an event, and should include a clickable link to your donation page in emails, social media, and text messages.

6 Steps for Crafting a Contagious Call to Action (STEPPS)

Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, breaks down the key (easy) STEPPS you can use to create calls-to-action for effective and viral content:

1) S is for Social Currency

Social currency taps into our desire to feel like “insiders” and share information that makes us look good.  Since people care about how they look to others, find ways to allow your donors to feel smart, in the know, and proud to share information about your cause.  Some ways you can easily do this is by:

  • Designating cool titles to donation levels
  • Offering VIP experiences to thank people who give more than a certain amount
  • Encouraging supporters to become Ambassadors of your cause by customizing and sharing their own crowdfunding pages

By making supporters feel special you’ll help build awareness for your organization as they connect with their social networks and share the story about their experience with your cause.

2) T is for Triggers

Triggers can remind people to talk about your product or service. This is often achieved by creating a link between what your cause is about, to popular events or cues.

  • What makes people think of your organization – literally and figuratively?
  • ________ makes people think of my organization. You fill in the blank.
  • How many times a day is that trigger encountered in your supporters’ lives?

An effective trigger will spark your supporters into action on your behalf.

3) E is for Emotion

When we care, we share. If you can get people to feel something, the next usual step is for them to share those feelings.  Berger contends that “low-arousal” emotions like happiness, satisfaction, sadness, guilt, and confusion are not enough to drive people to action. They do, however, get fired up to take action when they are excited, inspired, disgusted, amused, or humored.

Consider what emotion you are targeting in the angle of the story you tell during your ask.

4) P is for Public

It’s common sense – the easier something is to see, the more people will see it (and talk about it). People often feel the need to copy or imitate others so capitalize on that desire by making sure that you publicly feature cases of supporters who are helping you in order to inspire others to mimic their positive behavior.

Try branding your live thermometer, donation form, and sign-up page with your organization’s logo and event colors, and make sure to recognize donors on-screen to encourage more giving.

5) P is also for Practical Value

People want to share content that teaches others how to do something better like improve their health, learn a new instrument, save money, etc…

Helpful content gives supporters something worth sharing and adds value to your organization. Relevant content that is packaged in a way that inspires people to pass it along can help you spread information about your cause.

When crafting this useful content, don’t forget to ask yourself the question: Will people appreciate my organization because I shared this with them?

6) S is for Stories

Presenting information as a narrative will transform it into something people want to share.  People remember stories more than facts. A good story will get your donors to pay attention.

Make the biggest impact by including a live or pre-recorded testimonial from a beneficiary of your organization’s work. If they aren’t available to tell their own story, tell it on their behalf or have a volunteer or staff member tell about their own experiences.

Each one of these STEPPS can help you to successfully craft calls-to-action that can make a positive impact on your organization.

Nonprofit Call to Action Samples

The following nonprofit call-to-action examples should provide inspiration to help you craft your own.

Live Fundraising Event Sample

“Every day, thousands of people in the Central African Republic walk for miles – past broken water pumps – to fetch unsanitary water. Water that makes them sick. With your help, our organization was able to install a sustainable and clean water pump close to the village where the Wambeti family lives.

Since the installation, they are thriving and even helping us install safe, clean water pumps close to nearby villages. [Play a brief video of a family talking about how the pump has changed their lives.] $2500 pays for one pump and installation. Maybe you can give that on your own today and save a family. Maybe ten people can get together and make donations for $250 a piece. Every dollar we raise will bring Central African villages not only much-needed clean and safe water pumps, but health and hope for thousands of people.

It’s as easy as taking out your phone and opening a new text message to 41444. Then send a message with the keyword WATER, a space, your donation amount, a space, and then your name. Or donations will go up on the live thermometer behind me. Together we can raise $25,000 to put 10 water pumps in Central Africa!”

This method is also known as text to give.

Why It Works

  • Supporters encounter water every single day. The strategically chosen keyword (WATER to 41444 *message and data rates may apply*) to make a donation and the story of their mission to bring clean water to Central Africa will trigger thoughts of the organization.
  • Focusing the story on one specific family makes donors feel like they can truly make a difference. Generalized and mass need makes people feel helpless, which reduces their likeliness to donate.
  • Taps into strong supporter emotions as they respond to the idea of people struggling for water to survive becomes real through the inclusion of the Wambeti family’s testimonial.
  • Clear donation instructions reinforced by the event speaker walking donors through the step

Donation Form Sample

When faced with a limited amount of space for a call-to-action, the content and form have to pack a big punch. Usually, people see your donation form after hearing a live ask for support, or once they research your organization and decide to make their donation.

However, a comprehensive online giving campaign should include a shareable direct link to your mobile responsive form to be copied and shared in emails, text messages, and social media posts. These types of written posts work on social media too. “A young child’s cry shatters the quiet. A wet, moldy ceiling has collapsed on him – the reality of substandard housing. His family is waiting to move into a safe new Habitat house. Please help us finish their home.”

Why It Works

  • Emotions are stirred by the strong words chosen to paint the visual of a young boy and his family waiting for a safe Habitat home. It paints a vivid picture in only 4 sentences.
  • Mobile-responsive donation forms can be shared publicly and viewed on any digital or mobile device – making them accessible and easy to share.
  • Although general, a single child and his family are the subjects of this CTA, making the possibility of finishing their home more doable rather than addressing the massive task of finishing every home hit by a natural disaster. Studies show people are more likely to donate if they feel they can actually grasp the number and size of help needed.
  • People care about how they look so give your supporters the chance to look really good (and make you look good too) with personalized crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way for supporters to share (and maybe brag a little about) the causes they believe in most. Up to 62% of your supporters’ social network will give to your cause for the first time. Also, by sharing, their colleagues, friends, and family can join in to help raise more funds on your behalf.  Did you know, the average crowdfunding participant contributes $568? The best part is – donations and donor data are securely sent directly to the nonprofit.

Now you can worry about the design of your mobile responsive donation forms. Make them match your impressive call-to-action to ensure a donor experience that will make them want to give again!

We can’t wait to see your donation form and nonprofit call-to-action examples!


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