Writing style can make a difference in online fundraising

When used effectively, mailing lists can be one of a nonprofit's greatest resources to accept donations online. With donors receiving many emails each day from a spectrum of sources, it's imperative that your headlines grab their attention and your copy keeps them engaged.

The Upworthy-led "curiosity gap" approach is proven to be effective, and even increasingly accepted, but the discrepancy between a provocative headline and your content can be dangerous, guest blogger Tom Furtwangler wrote on the nonprofit marketing website Getting Attention. As such, your and subject lines should be bold enough to warrant a click, but not overstate the story. Disappoint readers too often and they might stop opening your emails at all. A safe strategy is to address your donors directly with "you" and focus your subject on their existing interests and concerns, added Nancy Schwartz, publisher of Getting Attention.

When it comes to the writing in emails and on your website, your nonprofit marketing copy should follow some guidelines as well. Like with headlines, keep the content reader-centric. You'll want to engage with their interests, write conversationally, use an active voice and emphasize the benefits of your program for the community involved and the donor specifically. A consistent, effective style that is personal and characteristic writing of your nonprofit will encourage givers to read your emails, engage with your website and contribute through online donation forms.

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