Whether it’s a military general or football coach, there comes the point in many classic movies where the favored side is down to its last shot and is in need of a rousing jolt before rebounding to victory. Some might think of scenes that were so moving that they left the theater motivated to take on a challenge of their own.
Donor calls to action can work similarly. A strong call to action can motivate your donors to go out of their ways to help your cause. An ineffective one can keep your donor on the sidelines.
During her presentation, “How to Raise More Money with Your Annual Fundraising Appeal” at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, La., Claire Axelrad, founder and principal at Clarification, provided seven essentials to an effective call to action:
- Come early with the ask. Don’t bury the lead. The final few paragraphs before your closing are a “dead zone” that recipients might not even read, so be sure to make a clear, upfront ask;
- Harness the power of “you.” Make your messaging donor-centric and include them in the story early and often;
- Be specific and believable. Don’t simply ask for support. Make a clear ask for an amount and tie that ask to something that can be accomplished with that level of support;
- Show gratitude. Remind the donor of his or her past support and thank prospective donors in advance;
- Create a sense of urgency. Strike while the iron is hot and give your donor a reason to give now. Urgency might include an emergency response, gift-matching campaign, or year-end tax benefit;
- Make the ask scalable. Deconstruct your ask into tiers. If you’re hoping for a gift of $1,000, which supplies a month of needed care, ask for $250 that might provide a week of that care; and,
- Find ways to leverage donors’ gifts. Donors are driven by opportunities to see their gifts doubled or matched by various campaigns and other ripple effects.