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Five Content Themes That Inspire Donor Action

Membership, Social/Mobile, Major Giving

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From print to email communications, but especially on mobile and social media, there are content themes guaranteed to inspire a reaction on the part your donors and supporters. Mastering the art of telling a success story, creating a sense of urgency, tapping into the power of statistics and quotes, and using a sense of humor take time to perfect, but once mastered, have a transformational effect upon your online communications and fundraising campaigns. By consistently applying these themes in your content strategy, little actions (a retweet) become bigger actions (making a donation) and when many little and big actions reach critical mass, you have synergy and fundraising success at your fingertips.

1. Success

Donors and supporters want to read, see, and hear the progress you are making in achieving your mission and programs. Increasingly results-driven, donors want to know that their donations are producing tangible results. Consistently providing donors and supporters progress reports is crucial to maintain their commitment to your organization. 

2. Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is a long-utilized theme in online communications and fundraising. When a donor or supporter knows that there is a fast-approaching deadline and a limited timeframe within which they can take action, they are much more likely to take action. And urgency also works well on mobile and social media. After positivity, the content with the most virality on social networks are those that tap into breaking news and current affairs.

3. Statistics

Incorporating the use of statistics into your annual content strategy is a must. Each year, create a page on your website or blog that lists 10 or more powerful stats that communicate the importance of your mission. Then, throughout the year, post one stat once a week on your social networks with a link to the stats page. Not only will those become your most retweeted tweets and shared status updates, but the page itself will become one your most visited. Also, if you have design capacity, embedding the stats on images and then uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. works even better.


A quick Google or Bing search reveals an unlimited number of inspirational quotes by current and historical thought leaders worldwide. Put them to use! For mobile and social media, posting those quotes as text or as images always garners a reaction and stimulates interaction and engagement. It’s a tried-and-true tactic, and some would say a tired-and-true tactic, but as long as quotes aren’t overused to the point where your followers realize it is a tactic, you should embrace using inspirational quotes at least once a week in your content strategy. For fundraising content, quotes from donors or audience members are powerful, as well as quotes from executive or program staff.

5. Humor

The most challenging of all (and not always appropriate) is the effective use humor to increase online action and engagement. It’s a rare skill that requires creativity and a good dose of sarcasm, and when done wrong, can be controversial or at the very least found to be in bad taste. But when done right, humorous content can become wildly popular. Humor is also the foundation of the phenomenon of Kawaii, a Japanese word meaning “cute.” Scientifically proven to narrow focus and trigger positive emotions and reactions, an explosion of nonprofits advocating for a wide variety causes now find themselves tweeting, pinning, sharing, and blogging cute kitten and baby animal photos and almost always with exceptional results. The act of uploading the files themselves is even beneficial in that viewing kitten and baby animal photos has also been proven to make workers more productive.

Finish the Online Revenue Detector!

Excerpted from Heather Mansfield's "Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits."

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