5 Copywriting Best Practices for Non-Profits [Guest Post]

Today is the the first in a series of guest posts here at the flyte blog. (How exciting!) We want to open up the blog to get some new perspectives and some new ideas. If you’re interested in submitting a topic idea you can do so here.

5 Copywriting Best Practices for Non-Profits

I am not a fan of so-called best practices, mainly because the premise is built on the failures of someone else and implies that what works for one person or organization can work for anyone. In reality everyone should develop their own best practices based on their own successes.

Still, the headline got your attention and there are some common elements to keep in mind when writing copy that persuades web readers to take action. As a non profit it is important to remember that you are still trying to convince someone to part with their their time or money- commodities that are hard to part with.

Copywriting for the web is different than offline copywriting Why? Because unlike an offline reader that is passive and silent, your online audience is active, vocal and connected. It is not a one-way street anymore; it is an open and two- way communication. For non- profits, this is your golden opportunity.

Copy (ie: content) is the most important element of Internet marketing. Your words must speak to the person reading it in simple and compelling voice- as if you were sitting on a couch together in the local coffee shop on a rainy and raw afternoon in late fall.

Elements of Writing Compelling Copy that Persuades

1 – Persuasion requires a structure. Have a plan for how you will persuade with your copy by creating a path for your readers.

Example of a structure:

  • Open with a strong statement in the headline
  • Develop drama and explain why the cause is important
  • Explain how they can make a difference
  • Focus on the benefit to the visitor to act
  • Justify the act by identify the lasting value
  • Address concerns or objections
  • Ask for the donation

2 – Find your perspective voice and stick with it. What you say is not as important as how you say it. Get comfortable with the fact that who you are is less important than who your audience imagines you to be. Defining your perspective will keep the tone of your copy consistent. There is no right or wrong answer, only what works for you.

Examples of perspectives:

  • Intellect vs. Emotion. Will you introduce a new perspective to the reader or confirm what they already know and try to persuade them to feel differently about it?
  • Then vs. Now. Are you talking about what has already happened, what will happen, or what is happening? Decide which approach will give your copy the most impact.
  • Me, Them, or You. Will you speak from the 1st person (yourself), 2nd person (them), or 3rd person (outside narrative)? We like to read about ourselves, so generally 2nd person work best.
  • Pain vs Gain. Will you speak to fear of loss or the hope of gain?

3-Write to one person instead of the masses- this is personal. How quickly do you get bored with the person at the party that talks all about themselves and what they are doing? Talk less about what you are doing; talk more about what their time and donation is doing. (Again, we like to read about ourselves.) Creating personas will help you to write to one person.

Example: For the cost of a cup of coffee a day you can give a child fresh water to drink everyday.

4 – Don’t be shy about emotion. We like to think of ourselves as logical and rational beings that make our decisions based on facts. But in truth, we use that to rationalize the reality that we make our decisions out of emotion. Create an emotional image and story that your reader can envision and inspires them to act on.

5 – If you can say it in 5 words, why use 15? Remember the KISS rule. Keep it simple…

6 SEO bonus. Unless your charity is benefiting the ‘click here’ or ‘learn more’ cause, don’t hyperlink those words in your copy.

Example: We save more trees and preserve more forests than any other organization worldwide. (great- then you are all set and don’t need me!)

Click here to learn more.

Vs.

You can save more trees and preserve more forests for your children with your $10 donation.

By hyper-linking your keywords as the anchor text, you are telling search engines that this is important enough to link additional information. Use that link to send readers to information about how their donation goes further because you are able to buy more trees in bulk as part of your persuasive structure. You are giving them a clear way to take action by hyper-linking the ‘$10 donation’  to  your donation page. (And don’t break the momentum, have the $10 donation on the informational page as well!)

Persuasive copy – good for SEO AND conversion.

Carole is the founder of Mahoney Internet Marketing, a Maine based marketing strategy and web analytics firm.

She loves living and working in Maine with her husband, 2 teenage boys, golden retriever, 3 chickens and many organic gardens.




4 Responses to “5 Copywriting Best Practices for Non-Profits [Guest Post]”

  1. Carole

    Honored to be the first! One correction- we are down to 2 chickens now. (anyone know a good fox hunter?) 😉

  2. Carole

    Honored to be the first! One correction- we are down to 2 chickens now. (anyone know a good fox hunter?) 😉

  3. Carol

    Much thanks for yet another amazing article. I am always searching for super WordPress tips to suggest to my readers. Thanks for taking the time to write this post. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Truly awesome post.

  4. Carol

    Much thanks for yet another amazing article. I am always searching for super WordPress tips to suggest to my readers. Thanks for taking the time to write this post. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Truly awesome post.