When was the last time you updated the ‘donate’ and ‘volunteer’ pages or sections of your nonprofit website? When were these pages written in the first place, and by whom? If getting website visitors to support your organization is a priority, good copywriting of this content is critical.

Don’t assume that ‘donate’ and ‘volunteer’ pages only need to offer mechanisms for bringing in support; they should be written to inspire support. So, what’s the secret to writing copy that inspires support? Planning.

Planning helps you to overcome nonprofit copywriting roadblocks

It’s work, but planning helps you to prevent or overcome copywriting roadblocks such as:

  • Writing under time pressure
  • Not having enough background information or direction
  • Not being able to properly guide supporters as they attempt to follow through and take action

Here are some elements to consider as you plan to tune up or write your nonprofit’s ‘donate’ and ‘volunteer’ pages:

Clearly define your audience for each web page or section

What is your priority target audience? Think about your ideal donor and volunteer – those you’d like to attract and who are likely to support your organization. Get as specific as you can and acknowledge that potential donors might be a completely different group from potential volunteers. Separately and for each, drill down into who your potential supporters are as much as possible, creating marketing personas.

Consider what motivates your donors and volunteers

As part of the previous step, you’ll be thinking about who your supporters are and what they do, their habits, their routines, their needs, their context. Based on the personas you have created, consider what will motivate individuals to support your organization, not just why your organization wants their support. To inspire support, you need to communicate benefits – telling the reader what’s in it for them.

Consult with volunteer and fund development team members

You likely have access to information about your existing supporters that will help you craft messages that appeal to new supporters. Speak with volunteer development team members to gain insights on your nonprofit’s current volunteers, what attracted them to your organization, what motivates them and what they like about volunteering with you. Look for insights in volunteer testimonials and evaluations. Have these conversations with fund development team members about donors as well.

Chart out the features and benefits of supporting your nonprofit

Really: make a chart. In the left column, include the features (e.g. flexible volunteer arrangements), on the right, list the benefits (e.g. convenience). This is a great exercise in truly distinguishing features from benefits before you write. This step is important because the benefits will motivate and resonate with readers and therefore, should be written into your copy.

Gather ‘credibility builders’

Collect content that lends credibility and builds belief in your organization, for use in your copy. Nonprofits are rich with credibility builders from the copywriter’s bag of tricks: testimonials, quotes, personal stories, facts – and these can also take the form of powerful visuals, videos, etc. If you’re going to show numbers, use outcomes and impact not output. Demonstrate impact with stories at the individual level as much as possible.

Decide on a primary call to action for each page

Really prioritize the number one action you’d like your readers to take as a result of visiting each page and be prepared to offer a prominent and easy way for them to do it. For example, on your volunteer page, ask readers to ‘apply now’ for a position and provide an online application form. On your donation page, if monthly donations or a specific/urgent campaign is your priority, say so with big striking text that leads readers to a form where taking action is as easy as possible.

Organize other information that supporters will need

Think about the information that supporters will need to consider as they decide whether to make a donation or step forward as a volunteer. For example, feature a current list of available volunteer opportunities and descriptions. Make it easy for donors to learn more about where their donations go and what activities their funds will support. Where and how you position this information will depend on your site design, but get organized during your planning process to include it.

Schedule regular updates to these pages

If attracting volunteers and donors to your nonprofit is a priority, keep these pages up-to-date. Create a schedule that works for you to revisit the copy and refresh, rewrite or just update details as needed. Ensure there is a process to keep volunteer opportunities up-to-date, feature time-sensitive campaigns or address shifting priorities for these pages.

Being prepared is half the copywriting battle

You’re ready to start writing. And with all of that thinking and planning in place, writing will be much easier – either for you or for the person to whom you’re assigning it! Some tips:

  • Keep the content brief but compelling.
  • Simple language will help the copy do what you need it to; inspire and motivate.
  • You are calling upon readers to take action, so remember to include more ‘you’ in the copy and less ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’.

When you sit down to write your ‘donate’ and ‘volunteer’ content, don’t assume that action will be a foregone conclusion; imagine that this is your only chance to attract supporters and that you really need to get it right. Because, let’s be honest, you do! Invest the time, planning and perhaps bring in help to ensure the copy on these pages (or sections) is working for you.


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Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira