Non-Profits: Call Your Community to ACTION

Non-Profits: Call Your Community to ACTION


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Messages like these have become more and more common as non-profits work towards spreading their mission, growing their communities, increasing social responsibility, and ultimately grow their donor base.

These days, there are more ways than ever for non-profits to engage communities by including a compelling call to action in marketing. Gone are the days where your community could only be part of your organization via a check reciprocated with a thank you letter. With all of the new communication channels, the ability to the spread awareness, disseminate information, and motivate people to contribute financially is an opportunity that needs to be strategically leveraged. Strategically – being the keyword.

Having a strong call to action is a must to any organization looking to mobilize a community, but creating an EFFECTIVE call to action takes a bit of strategy.

Here are some tips to better mobilize people from intention to action.  

Define the Five Ws and the How of Your Call

A successful call to action must start by defining its purpose and its audience. Below are the questions that need to be answered before starting any call:

  • Why are you asking people to take action?
  • What are you asking them to do?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How can they take action?
  • Where will they find your call to action?
  • By when should they participate?

For example, an ask that includes all of these elements would look like this:

From the destruction of this past hurricane season, we learned that our communities can and should be better prepared. We are reaching out to you to help us better equip our communities, as Hurricane XYZ approaches. We are asking you to share and distribute our Hurricane Resource Kit, found here, with your Facebook friends. Our goal is to have more than 50K shares before Hurricane XYZ reaches land by the end of next week. 

Knowledge is power; let’s empower our communities together!

Offer Options

In the days of modern consumerism, having diverse options (but not too many) is key to attracting and increasing consumers, or in your case, actors. Although fund-development is generally the goal for many calls, it is important to remember that your audience may want to participate in other ways they find more appropriate.

The goal is to spread the message (and make it stick) to your organization. Ultimately by doing so, you will bring in more donations and engage more people.

Here are some examples of actions you can ask of your audience:

  • Donate
  • Like/Share our Facebook page
  • Give us a shout out on Twitter
  • Subscribe to our monthly newsletter
  • Download our resources (be specific about the benefit of having these resources)
  • Volunteer or partner with us
  • Watch our videos
  • Ask us to speak at your event
  • Use our space
  • Contact us

Bundle Your Options

Although the phrase, “kill two birds with one stone” is a little let’s say unnecessarily violent, the idea is solid. Why do one thing when you can do two? A good approach is to bundle the ways in which people can participate in your cause by offering them another way to act immediately after they completed a request. For example:

  • After they have signed a petition, ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • After they donated, ask them to share the donation page.
  • After they watched a video, ask them to write to their congressperson.

Stay away from jumping into a rabbit hole of requests, however. Keep your asks at two at a time, otherwise you risk repelling your audience with too many requests. Respect their time and honor what they’ve already done for your organization.

Offer Tit for Tat Value

Because non-profits are not privatized businesses, it may seem odd to suggest offering something in exchange for your audience’s participation. With a business it is easy to think this way: a customer receives a product/service in exchange of their payment. A cause or philanthropic effort still needs to resonate with consumers; and consumers appreciate incentives. People are likely to act out of the kindness of their heart, but they are MORE likely to participate in your cause if you offer them value.

Here are some ways you can offer value:

  • Join us on Twitter to receive the latest happenings on the Hill.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter to watch our videos in your inbox.
  • Today you can donate and we will match your donation!
  • Donate more than $100 and you get a shout out on our Twitter feed.
  • Encourage five people to donate, and receive a special edition XYZ mug.

Keep it Simple and User-Friendly

You are already asking your community to participate in your cause, so don’t make it hard for them. If you have a “Join our Cause” or “Get Involved” section on your website (which you should, by the way!) make sure that you consolidate your call to action in one page. For example, if you have six ways people can get involved, list them on one landing page. Note that each option should be clickable and should take the user to a separate page displaying ONLY information about that action. Do not cram your donation page, for example, with all the other ways in which they can be involved. Keep it simple.

Thank and Recognize Them

Please and thank you. These are the most rudimentary words for any request. Depending on your ask, sometimes a simple thank you is enough. However, there are other situations like a substantial donation that merit a more elaborate expression of gratitude (e.g., a mention on your website, a plaque, a personalized letter signed by the organization’s chief officer). Think about how you’ll identify which thank you is appropriate for which situation.

Above all else, remember that the best way to thank your community is by putting their efforts to work. Be transparent and accountable, and above all else share how your organization uses their support to make real impact.

Looking for ways to improve your fundraising efforts or grow your donor base, including having more dynamic calls-to-action?

We’re happy to assist. Contact us and we can talk through your challenges and help you identify opportunities and execute new campaigns or tactics aimed at building awareness of your cause.