Any successful nonprofit fundraising campaign has an effective call to action. Your call to action is the actual spot where you ask somebody to do something—volunteer, donate, sign a petition, subscribe. Nonprofits can improve results with how they market and communicate your call to action, but when it comes down to the call to action itself, there are five key attributes that can transform any run-of-the-mill pitch into a fundraising dynamo.
1. Be highly specific.
Having large global missions and lofty goals for changing the world is great, but you need to put those aside. That can have the effect of making a potential donor feel they can't make a difference or leave them wondering exactly what steps they can take. Focus on a very specific action somebody can take to help make the problem better.
2. Be Feasible.
Your action needs to be something that is very easy to do so as not to overwhelm any potential donors. Create a momentum of compliance, wherein once somebody does something small they are more willing to do something larger later on. Not everybody is ready to donate right away and it's important not to alienate those people.
3. Have a first priority.
You should have a first priority beyond getting donations. Again, momentum of compliance comes into play. Not everybody is ready to donate or volunteer right this very second. Think about how you can build your community of potential supporters and about enticing ways to get a person's email address.
4. Be free of barriers.
This is where usability of your website and the actual donation process comes into play. Watch somebody go through the steps involved and see where they get hung up, if there are unnecessary steps and if everything is easy to understand. Honor your audience's time by making everything as straightforward and quick as possible.
5. Be filmable.
Consider this your test: Imagine yourself with a video camera and ask, can you film the action you are asking somebody to take? Your audience needs to be able to visualize what they will be doing. If they can't picture themselves doing it, they won't be likely to do it.
Adapted from Katya Andresen's Nonprofit 911 presentation "Crafting Your Call to Action"