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Perfect Your Nonprofit Calls to Action in 3 Steps

5 min read
October 08, 2021
Allison Smith headshot
Allison Smith
Content Marketing Coordinator, Neon One
nonprofit calls to action

Nonprofit websites need to inform visitors, but more importantly, your organization’s website needs to inspire them. You need a way to motivate them to take action and support your nonprofit’s mission. Your nonprofit website needs calls to action.

What Are Calls to Action?

A call to action (CTA) button is the button on a website or your social media channels that prompts you to “Donate Now”, “Subscribe to Our Blog”, or “Learn More!” They allow you to encourage your visitors to show their support, and inspire a specific action that can help your mission.

Since a call to action will directly influence your visitor’s behavior, it’s important that it’s effective. Picking the right design and color are crucial, but choosing the right words is just as important. The words in your call to action button need to be compelling enough to make your visitors take action.

Your call to action should be as specific as possible, while also using as few words as possible. Don’t just ask people to donate, tell them exactly what materials you need and how their donation will make an impact. Specificity is what sets successful nonprofit calls to action apart from the rest.

Steps to Perfect Nonprofit Calls to Action

Even though a call to action may be the shortest phrase on your website, it’s important that it makes an impact. Follow these 3 steps to create a call to action button guaranteed to inspire your constituents.

1. Make It Urgent

A huge part of your call to action is simply creating a sense of urgency about your cause. Use strong language to make your website visitors feel like waiting isn’t an option — they need to act now. Using words like “now” or “today” will help you create urgency, but you should also think creatively about how you can inspire your visitors to take action.

All you need to do is make people understand the importance of supporting your cause today — this can be done with a shocking statistic or a compelling visual. 

Take Stock in Children Today does this well. Their name alone conveys urgency, but if you go to their website, you’ll find a popup button that encourages you to give now to change the lives of their students. You’ll find pictures and stories of the students they help, along with strong language that includes information about the crisis at hand– that most of Florida’s Youth in poverty will never complete college.

take stock in children calls to action
take stock in children calls to action

2. Use Strong Language

Strong verbs will make or break your nonprofit calls to action. Avoid the passive voice and make sure to use active verbs that will make your visitors think about taking action. Some of our favorite examples include:

  • Support
  • Donate
  • Act
  • Change
  • Fight
  • End
  • Transform
  • Invest

There are so many potential options for nonprofit websites, so make sure to brainstorm a few different phrases before settling on one. When in doubt, opt for whatever phrase you think is the most attention-grabbing.

Unsilence does a phenomenal job of this. Front and center, you see three major calls to action: “Enter,” “hidden,” and “10 year report.” This unique website structure, coupled with bold and direct calls to action, grabs the attention of visitors right away.

unsilence nonprofit calls to action
unsilence nonprofit calls to action

3. Keep It Short And Sweet

Your entire call to action should only be a few words long, at the most. Get straight to the point and make it short and sweet. If you need to add additional context, add some additional before or after the CTA, but limit the actual call to action button to just a few words.

If you’re worried about cutting down on the length of your call to action, use the WYLTIWLT test to make sure your call to action button will make sense to website visitors. In your head, add these phrases before the text of your call to action:

  • Would you like to _________?
  • I would like to _________.

This allows you to test whether your call to action button makes sense from both the voice of the website and the voice of the user. This is the standard format for CTA buttons across the Internet, and we find that this test helps us cut down our call to action phrases to the most important keywords necessary for user understanding.

Consider including a simple visual element to complement your call to action. People tend to process images faster, and including visuals along with your call to action may make a greater impact than text alone.

For example, Wayfinding Academy features a carousel of three initiatives with calls to action front and center. To “apply now” to be a student in their program, as pictured below, to “learn more” about their free tuition initiative, and to watch the founder of Wayfinding Academy’s Ted talk now.

wayfinding academy calls to action
wayfinding academy calls to action

All nonprofit websites are different, so it’s hard to know exactly what will work best for you. Our best advice: try to boil down the motivation behind your cause into a few powerful words — something that would inspire anybody to make a difference. Do you have any tips to add? Let us know what’s worked best for your calls to action.

For more tips on how to perfect your nonprofit’s website, check out the blog below:

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