How to Use Effective Language For a Fresh Donation Appeal

This guide will explore how using effective language helps keep your donation appeals fresh and encourages audience support

Creating a message that initiates action from your donors is a craft worth mastering for a successful donation appeal

Just as in the business world, a non-profit’s appeal messaging to their donors requires ongoing updates to keep communication engaging enough to motivate donors to act. Attention-grabbing messages require new donation appeals that are unlike any pitches your supporters have seen before.

Lucky for us, the English language offers a toolbox bursting with words and phrases to help you craft a compelling message. Persuasive marketing messages will stick in the hearts and minds of your community long after landing in their inboxes. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Use urgent language

To grab your audience’s attention in the first few words of your message, you have to open with a bang. This should appear as early as possible in your message, such as in the greeting of a charity eCard. Use words of urgency to create a sense of missing out on an opportunity or a chance to participate.

For example, include words and phrases like:

● “Act now!”
● “Instantly”
● “We can’t do it without you!”

This type of opening is best used when you are promoting a campaign with a specific deadline. Think of GivingTuesday campaigns, for example, where donors have only 24 hours to contribute.
Another instance where this approach can be highly effective is in cases where an immediate problem presents itself, such as a natural disaster. In this situation, you might more effectively appeal to the reasons donors give by offering a softer approach that speaks to a sense of the responsibility shared by your greater community. Combining the message with images that
provide evidence of the need makes for an incredibly compelling donation appeal.

Include your audience in your donation appeal

We all understand the value of engaging donors, and there is no better way to do that than by making them a prominent player in your messaging. Speak directly to your audience to expose the importance of their participation in your cause.

Use words and phrases such as:
● “Listeners like you”
● “Our community”
● “Legacy”
● “Impact”

Using inclusive language automatically includes donors in the success of your organization.

Tell a story that matters

Use a compelling story to put the donor in the shoes of your constituents. This is one of the most effective ways to garner attention—if you tell the story correctly.

Consider these tips:
● Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs. A message that is heavy with strong adjectives and adverbs could overwhelm your donors. Use conversational language to tell the story more genuinely.
● Be selective with details. Instead of excessively catering to emotional appeals, let the story do the work naturally. For example, you might tell the story of a specific dog at the animal shelter to encourage donations, but avoid giving graphic details of past abuse the dog endured.
● Use inclusive language. Steer clear of jargon that might add a note of exclusion to your message. Tell your story in a way that everyone can understand and resonate with. For example, explain that a dog at the animal shelter needs funding for its medical bills without going into technical detail about its condition.

You’re passionate about your cause, and rightfully so! Just remember that you’ll have to do the work to make your audience passionate about it, too. Effective storytelling can make them feel like part of something bigger, which will ultimately lead into your invitation for them to join your cause.

Writing For Non-Profits

Inviting Donors to Join the Movement

An inviting offer makes the difference between a crucial appeal for support and a plain solicitation for money. Using an invitational approach softens the request and conveys a sense of power to the donor that gives them the space to make their own choice to give.

For example, consider inviting your audience to participate in opportunities like:

●  Birthday fundraisers: Invite your supporters to raise funds for your cause in lieu of traditional birthday gifts. eCardWidget’s guide to birthday fundraisers suggests using social media, email newsletters, and your website to promote this type of fundraiser and explain to your supporters how to set one up.
●  Advocacy campaigns: Explain the power of advocacy to your supporters and how they can recruit volunteers and donors for your cause. This request for the donation of their time will show that there are more ways to give than by writing a check.
●  Peer-to-peer fundraisers: Demonstrate the usefulness of social media and how your supporters can set up their own donation pages to raise money for your cause. This appeal will entice them to become involved with your organization through a platform they already use regularly.

Any type of appeal for your supporters to get involved in the fundraising process should be built around your nonprofit’s branding so they know how to represent your organization as they advocate for your cause. Double the Donation’s guide to nonprofit marketing suggests defining elements of your brand, like voice and personality. Communicating these in your messaging can exemplify how supporters should represent your organization.

By structuring your appeal to include supporters in the fundraising process, you’ll make them feel like a significant contributor to your cause. Remember to use enticing language to extend
this invitation so that you can accurately depict the urgency of your mission. For instance, an invitation that begins with “we need your help” signifies a desperate need for donors.

Thank your audience

At the end of the day your message always needs to include what professional journalists call the “who, what, where, when, why and how” information that enables donors to participate in the campaign. Don’t wait too long to get to the point, include all the details they need and don’t veer off the main goal of your campaign.

For fundraising events it’s acceptable to fashion the message as a traditional invitation in an email or posted mail. Depending on the formality of the event, you can send the invitation in an envelope, or on a printed postcard with images that are sure to gain attention.

Creating a message that initiates action from your donors is a craft that can either be very effective or ineffective for far too long after the initial communication. Choosing appropriate language and applying it with thoughtful consideration can greatly increase your chances in garnering participation in your cause, now and in the future, too.

Your potential for impact increases with every audience member that listens to your message, so your donation appeal in and of itself is crucial to your organization’s efforts. That’s probably why you’re reading these tips about crafting the appeal—the request matters!

Just as you see the importance in your appeal, so should your audience. Communicating your gratitude for supporters’ attention is one of the most important parts of any donation request. Thanking your donors for their consideration shows that just by staying engaged with your organization, they’re making a difference.

After covering the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” information that enables donors to participate in the campaign, express your appreciation for their attention.


Creating a message that initiates action from your donors is a craft worth mastering. Choosing appropriate language and applying it with thoughtful consideration can greatly increase your chances in garnering participation in your cause, now and in the future, too.

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