Resources Hub » Blog » Asking for Donations: Wording Matters

If you’re in the nonprofit industry, you’ll likely agree that engagement rates for nonprofit emails aren’t as great as you’d like them to be. And that’s particularly true for donation request emails.

Unlike other industries that offer products and services in exchange for cash, nonprofit organizations have nothing to give in exchange for the donations that come in.

Because of this, raising the funding you need to remain operational and succeed in fulfilling your mission can seem like an uphill task.

So how can you improve the situation?

It’s all in the ask.

When asking for donations, wording matters—especially if you’re doing it via email. Read on to discover how you can improve your donation request emails to help ensure financial support continues to come in for your nonprofit.

Asking for donations—wording matters for 3 reasons

One important element of every fundraising campaign is the donation message. Craft it well, and you’re bound to garner enough support to fulfill your noble cause—and more.

So why does wording matter when creating your donation request email?

1. Giving is an emotional act.

One of the biggest reasons words matter in donation request emails is that giving is an emotional act. When soliciting for donations, you need to craft your email in such a way that it elicits the desired emotional response from your target audience. It’s this emotional aspect of giving that makes storytelling so powerful.

 Asking for donations – wording a touching story.

By using stories and thoughtful language in your messaging like the email above, you connect your readers to your cause.

2. Donors want clarity.

Another reason your choice of wording matters? Donors want to understand your vision clearly before parting with their hard-earned money.

Using words that are ambiguous or confusing will only turn readers off, resulting in you not getting the funding you desperately need.

However, by using language that’s easy to understand, your donors will quickly grasp your message and rally to your cause.

3. Engagement is crucial.

Using the right words in your email ensures that your readers remain engaged. On the other hand, using bland wording in your email will reduce engagement rates and participation.

How can you increase engagement? Personalization, segmentation, and automation are all important steps you can take to improve your email metrics.

This involves sending authentic messaging to your donors and separating them by distinguishing factors, like donation amount and age. Once you have the proper messaging, you can use automation to send campaigns automatically.

Find out more by reading our nonprofit benchmarks guide.

Asking for donations—wording tips to supercharge your fundraising campaign

Now that you’ve seen the power of words in your messaging, consider these tips to improve your donation request message.

1. Know your audience.

Knowing your audience is the first step to crafting a donation request email that moves your donors into action. To pull this off, you’ll need to conduct a bit of audience research.

Audience research simply means getting as much data as you can about your target audience. This includes their interests, habits, and the causes they’re passionate about.

Why does audience research matter? Here are two main reasons why:

  • Helps you improve your communication
  • Gives valuable insight into what your audience wants from you

Getting all this information isn’t as daunting as it seems. One easy way to get it is to send out a survey email to your email list.

If there’s one thing that helps marketers craft the perfect donation request email, it’s data, so be sure to gather as much of it as you can.

2. Segment and personalize.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the first things you need to do to craft the perfect donation request email is to segment your email list.

Doing so ensures that you group donors with similar demographics together. Segmenting your email list enables you to craft personalized messages, and your emails will feel more thoughtful and more personal.

List segmentation is super easy, especially if you’re using an email marketing service like Campaign Monitor, which has more advanced segmentation capabilities than going it alone.

3. Choose your words wisely.

Word choice is a crucial component of driving engagement and donations. Always remember that soliciting for donations is never about convincing your readers that your cause is worthy to support.

It’s all about communicating in a way that’s authentic and moves people into action.

When it comes to soliciting for donations, the way you ask is more important than what you’re asking for. Wording your email poorly can negatively impact your response rates, while using the right words can result in a successful fundraising campaign.

Asking for donations – wording and the right words to use.

Source: Really Good Emails

Consider the following words you might include in your donation request emails.

  • Small. “A small donation of…” has more impact than “a donation of….” Adding the word “small” to your donation request, especially if you’re asking for a specific amount, has the psychological effect of making the donation look manageable.
  • Expert. Using the word “expert,” particularly when referencing your staff, is a great way to build trust. Trust is a big factor when it comes to driving donations. Using the word “expert” in describing your staff will show donors that your organization is run by professionals, which will foster a relationship of trust and increase donations.
  • Help. People, by nature, want to be useful. Using the word “help” in your donation request email is a great way to make your donors know that they’re being useful. Driving donations is all about pushing the right emotional triggers, and the word “help” does just that.
  • Now. To ensure your email elicits a speedy (and positive) response from your readers, use action words. One good example is the word “now.” Words like this one spur people into action, as they show the urgency of the situation. A good example of how you can use this word in your email might be, “Pete needs your help now, if he’s to get his life-saving operation.”
  • Together. Particularly in the digital age we’re living in, people can feel disconnected. The word “together” makes your readers feel like they belong to a community of like-minded people.
  • You. One of the most important words you can never use too many times in your emails is the word “you.” Using it in your donation messages not only adds to your personalization but, more importantly, it helps donors know that they’re part of your team. It helps them own the vision.

Asking for donations using the word “you.”

Source: Campaign Monitor

Using the right words in your donation request email can’t be stressed enough. Words have the power to move people into action when used well, so do your best to harness the power they carry.

4. Be clear about your ask.

One thing you can’t escape is asking people for help. While it’s never the easiest thing to do, it must be done, and done right. Make sure your readers know exactly what you need from them. Not only that, but let them know what they need to do.

You need to craft your ask to be as clear as possible and ensure that there’s an easy-to-understand CTA button to direct them to the next step.

Asking for donations – wording the CTA.

Source: Really Good Emails

People are willing to help. They just need you to be clear about what you want them to help you with and what next steps they need to take to help.

Wrap up

When asking for donations, wording really does matter because:

  • Giving is an emotional act
  • A clear ask drives more donations
  • The right words increase engagement and participation

Employing the above tips and strategies will help you improve your email marketing campaign results, and you’ll enjoy improved participation from your donor base.

Need more information on how to run an email marketing campaign for nonprofits? Check out our guide on how to impress and retain donors using email marketing.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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