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Five Copywriting Tips for Powerful Nonprofit Storytelling

causemic blog copywriting tips nonprofits
Ever overlooked an email because it was poorly written? The last thing you want is to miss out on the opportunity to inspire your reader because you weren’t sure how to craft your message. Don’t let your stories be sidelined – take center stage with these copywriting best practices.     

Know thy audience.


No one thinks driving a car at night without headlights is a good idea. Likewise, writing an email campaign without doing any research on your target audience will leave you in the dark when it comes to capturing their attention. 

Not sure who your audience is? You can get a clearer idea by asking these 10 questions. Once you’ve gotten answers, consider building audience personas to document their demographic, interests, pain points and preferences. That way, when it’s time to write, you’ll know how to customize the tone and/or channel of your story accordingly.


Get to the heart of it.


Humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish – that means you have about eight seconds to capture your reader’s attention. You can increase the likelihood of your reader absorbing and retaining what you’ve shared with a simple and focused message. Ask yourself, what is the one thing I want my reader to take away? Ideally, your takeaway can be summed up in 1-2 sentences. This should be the primary focus of your copy. 


Make it timely.

  The theme of your nonprofit’s mission and/or campaign may not be new to your readers, so if you want to inspire them to act, you’ll need to make it relevant to them. Bring a new lens to an old challenge by grounding it in the present. Tie in a timely event, news story, or study that highlights the challenge you’re tackling and why change is needed. Demonstrate the urgency of your call-to-action with the hypothetical outcome of not taking action.    

Show, don’t tell.

  Demonstrate the great work you’re doing, don’t just talk about it. For example, there is greater power in sharing an interview with a person you have helped vs. stating how many people you reached this year. Images, pull quotes and personal stories give evidence that you’re making a difference – and it’s a whole lot more fun to read. Keep this in mind when you’re crafting your message.    

Adapt for multiple channels.

  Once you’ve identified your audience and the story you’d like to tell, it’s important to customize it for different channels (e.g., social, email, print). Consider adjusting length, tone and visual elements. Identify what you’ll use as a teaser to your full appeal when you’re publishing a shorter message. A pull quote or statistic, for example, can draw the reader from your social channel to your landing page. Use similar language and a consistent call-to-action, regardless of the channel, to keep your message cohesive.  
Curious to learn more? Check out our post on writing a successful fundraising appeal for helpful tips that make the “big ask” a whole lot simpler.