While asking for donations is sometimes more of an art than a science, we've found a few ingredients that tend to yield the best results.
Tip: Also check out our guide on how to choose which donation type is right for you.
Lead With an Effective Action
- Be audience-centric. Pay attention to your supporters and get to know them. Review past success campaigns to look for patterns and clues. Know what types of content your audience tends to like most. Reference your offline interactions and email campaigns, too. Past performance is one of the top predictors of how your audience will respond in the future. ActionSprout’s Timeline tool can help you better assess your audience and what they like, while our Inspiration tool can show you what’s working for similar audiences in your network.
- Use emotion. Your action should evoke an emotional response from your audience. Supporters should feel compelled to get involved.
- Make it solvable. Supporters want to believe that taking your action will lead to positive, real change. It's your job to convince them.
- Make it urgent. You only have 10 seconds (max) to grab your supporter's attention. Make sure they feel like they have to take action immediately. Otherwise, they likely never will. Is there a deadline on the horizon or an impending problem that needs solving right away? Focus on milestones like that.
- Direct action toward people, places, and things. Our studies show that actions are most successful when they're directed at a noun. Whether you're trying to meet a goal, pressure an elected official, or supporting a community, it's important that the action you're requesting is focused on the person, place, animal, or thing at the end result of it. This help make the action feel more tangible.
- Help your audience look good to their friends. Facebook is a highly public form. When your supporters take action on Facebook, they're (consciously or subconsciously) thinking about what it will reflect about them. Your action should be something they want to be seen doing.
- Be as clear as possible. How can you explain what you're asking in the quickest, clearest way? People need to understand what you’re asking for at a glance. Assume that people are distracted while looking at your post... because they are!
Help Them Solve a Problem
As we've already discussed, any successful action typically gives supporters the ability to help solve a problem. People are more compelled to take action when they believe real change is possible and their voice will make a difference. The best way to accomplish that is to write your action in a problem-solution-action format.
First, clearly state the problem with a powerful, attention-grabbing hook. “If we don’t act now…” “The tiger population is at record low levels…” “This year 100,000 gallons of oil were spilled…” Be sure to give people enough information to clearly explain why they should care about the problem, without overwhelming them with too much information.
Next, set up the solution. How will you solve this problem? It must be realistic and believable to your audience. This is a good place to include a hero, if applicable. Is there a team or a person who could solve the problem? Is there someone at the governmental level who could help?
Finally, tell people how they can take action to help solve the problem. In the case of a donation action, this will be a financial request. “We need X amount of money to solve this problem. Are you willing to chip in?”
Choose the Right Image
The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true on Facebook as well. It's a very visual platform, so you'll want to make sure your action image is powerful enough to grab people's attention. Images make a post easier to understand and empathize with. They receive more engagement and shares than text-only posts, too.
Make it fit your cause
Make sure your image fits your voice, clearly relates to your action, and is something you believe your audience would want to share with their friends and family.
Make it stand out
Your image should stand out from the crowd with emotional resonance, vibrancy, and contrasting colors.
Use what works
When in doubt, you can reuse a photo that's worked well with your supporters before. Remember, the more attention you can grab, the more reach your action will have... and the more people you'll have to taking that action for your cause!
If possible, add some language (a brief fact or call to action) to the image itself. Images with text are often more shared and clicked on than images without. But whatever you do, don’t add a button to it, as it confuses supporters when they end up at the social action landing page.
Please note: Images in Facebook posts should be 1200 x 1200 and action images should be 1200 x 627. If you plan on promoting your action through Facebook ads no more than 20% of the image can be text.
How and when you follow-up with folks after they donate is as important as the donation request itself. That’s why you should put the same time and effort into your follow-up messages as you do for the initial ask. In this Nonprofit Hub article Denise McMahan states that “the preparation for and conducting of the ask is 25 percent of the process, but follow-up is 75 percent!”
Personal message tend to best received. With ActionSprout, you can effortlessly include the name of the donor in your thank you message.
People also like to know that their hard-earned money is leading to success and progress. Be sure to mention how their money is being used and what positive outcomes are coming from it. People will gain confidence in your organization and be more likely to donate again.
For more information on how to set up customized post-action messages and automated follow-up emails in ActionSprout, check out our how to create a donation action guide.
Try These Tips Today
Here are a few simple tweaks you can make to your messaging. Over and over again, we've seen them help boost donations and support.
- Use inclusive language like “we” and “us.” You’re not asking people to do your organization a favor. You're asking them to be a part of your team, working together toward a solution.
- Don’t use the word “donate” anywhere in your action or in your Facebook post. I know this sounds a bit strange, considering you’re creating a donation action, but softer messaging like “chip in” is always better received.
- Ask folks to give to your cause, not your organization. If your organization is “People Saving Tigers,” you’re not asking folks to donate to you as an organization, but to the cause itself: the tigers. Make sure to frame your language as such.
- Include the action link and your call to action toward the beginning of your Facebook post. Providing that info early in the post will increase the chance that a person will see it and completing it.
- Experiment with different donation strings. For example, starting at $3 dollars might be more effective than starting at $20... or the opposite could be true! Through a bit of trial and error, find out what works best with you audience.
- Try setting a goal amount and a goal date in your action. This could influence more people to donate because it adds a sense of urgency.
- Try to keep your action description about three short paragraphs in length. Any less, and they might not have enough info. Any more, and they might tune out.