Improve Fundraising Copy by Adding Urgency

Right NowDuring the Writing to Raise More Money webinar last week (recording available to All-Access Pass holders), I talked about four ways to improve your fundraising copy:

1. Cue an Emotional Response

2. Make the Request Feel Personal

3. Convey Urgency

4. Ask Clearly

At the end of the webinar, I asked participants which of the four they thought would be hardest for them to do, and promised a blog post with some additional advice. Nearly 50% selected “conveying urgency” as the most difficult of these four tasks.

During the webinar, I explained that you want to answer the “Why donate now?” question in your supporters’ heads by conveying a sense of urgency. You can create this urgency in several ways.

Deadlines

The easiest way to convey urgency is with an upcoming deadline. These can be deadlines imposed by others or imposed on yourself.

Examples:

We need to raise $250,000 by September 30 to begin construction.

If we raise $50,000 by the end of the month, it will be matched by ABC, Inc.

Our goal is for every child at Smith Elementary to arrive on the first day of school with a backpack full of supplies.

Our new program will launch on April 15, and your donations today will decide how many families can participate.

Goals

America is a very goal-driven society. We like working toward something.

Fundraising expert Lori Jacobwith suggests letting your supporters know your goal for the year, at the beginning of the year. Then you can keep that goal and progress toward it visible throughout the year in a variety of ways, such as on your website, in your newsletters, in personal meetings, and in presentations. “Wherever you can share the goal and timeline,” says Lori, “share it in fun, engaging ways.” She also suggests breaking the goal into smaller mini-campaigns through the year.

But make sure your goal is clearly connected to something your supporters really care about, not just some internal or administrative goal you’ve set for yourself. As Fundraising Coach Marc A. Pitman said on our Facebook page, “the best calls to action are written to what your audience values. So you really need to know them. ‘We’re below our goal!’ isn’t nearly as compelling as ‘Help us fight assaults on the environment!'”

Examples:

Help us meet our goal of spaying and neutering 1,000 stray cats this year.

Let’s build an emergency rescue fund of $500,000 so we can respond immediately when called.

Short-Lived Opportunities

Sometimes you are presented with opportunities that require you to act very quickly. Use that as a hook. Or sometimes you can offer your supporters limited-time opportunities.

Examples:

We have a special opportunity to purchase this land for a new neighborhood park, but we have to submit our bid by next Friday.

We have a limited number of seats left for this event.

Right Now . . .

You can also convey urgency simply by sharing real-time information.

Examples:

As I write to you today, hundreds of women and children are fleeing the village on foot.

Right now, one of our counselors is on the phone with a single father who’s about to be evicted from his apartment.

What Else?

What are some other ways to include urgency in your fundraising appeals? What have you used before and how did it work?



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