Nonprofit Copywriting: 5 Major Dos and 4 Don’ts for Writing Effective Copy

Does this sound familiar? 

You and your nonprofit team have already written the language for your nonprofit website. The site is live! And you’re getting traffic to it from the nonprofit marketing ideas you’ve put together. 

But…crickets. No one’s signing up to volunteer. No one’s purchasing tickets to the upcoming events. No one’s donating. 

So what gives? 

Or maybe this sounds familiar: 

You and your nonprofit team sit down to write the language for the organization’s website. You pull up a Google Doc. And then… the cursor just blinks at you over and over. 

You don’t even know how to get started with writing! 

No matter which scenario fits your current situation, the common denominator is this: nonprofit copywriting. 

So what is it? And how do you leverage it so you start making connections for your nonprofit? 

That’s what we’re discussing here: 


What is Nonprofit Copywriting? 

What exactly is nonprofit copywriting? To put it simply, it’s the words your team writes for your organization’s marketing materials. 

Think of things like:


Those are all forms of nonprofit copywriting. 

And they all have one thing in common: the goal is to get the reader to do something. 

Maybe that’s to click the link on a social media ad to go to your nonprofit website. Maybe it’s to scroll through your nonprofit website and then sign up for your email newsletter. 

Or maybe it’s to actually sign up for a volunteer position, purchase a ticket to a nonprofit event, or even make a donation. 

No matter what you want them to do, if the goal is to encourage the reader to take some kind of action, you’re working with nonprofit copywriting. 


5 Major Do’s for Effective Nonprofit Copywriting: 

When it comes to copywriting for nonprofits, it’s a blend between an art form and a science. 

Writing, inherently, is an art form. And it takes an amount of creativity, time, and effort to do. 

But copywriting blends the art of writing with the science of sales psychology and marketing. 

Don’t worry! Anyone can learn how to write awesome nonprofit copy that creates emotional connections with readers and encourages them to take action. 

And if you’re ready to level up in your skills, then try out these 5 major Do’s of nonprofit copywriting: 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DO #1: Use Storytelling to Draw an Emotional Connection with Your Supporters: 

The human brain is wired to create stories to make sense of things. It dates back to when paper and pencil weren’t a thing. Instead, people told stories because listeners could remember the information better! 

So storytelling is a major part of nonprofit copywriting. When you can effectively weave the story of your nonprofit’s mission into any of your marketing materials, you’ll find that people engage with your message more! 

And if you haven’t nailed down your nonprofit storytelling skills yet, that is not a problem. Check out the Nonprofit Storytelling Bundle training taught by Caliopy Glaros! 

Snag the Nonprofit Storytelling Bundle to Nail Your Organization’s Message!


Copywriting for Nonprofits DO #2: Always Use Clear Copy Over Clever Copy

It’s so tempting to add in words and language that are “cute” or “clever.” A lot of times, marketers add in cute puns or clever plays-on-words. 

The problem with that is they sacrifice clarity for the sake of cuteness or cleverness. 

But here’s the thing: a confused mind never buys. 

That’s a popular saying for copywriters in the for-profit world. But it bodes true for the nonprofit sector, too. 

Because ultimately? For your donors, they are buying, in a way. They’re still handing over their money to your organization. 

So if they’re confused about what you do, what problem you’re solving, and where their money goes? They’re less likely to hit the “donate now” button! 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DO #3: Get As Specific As You Can

This one ties into our second tip for copywriting for nonprofits. 

You know that the confused mind never buys. On the other hand, specificity sells. 

Again, it’s a common saying for copywriting in the for-profit world. But it still applies to nonprofits, too! 

When you get as specific as possible, you’re painting a super clear image in your reader’s mind of what you do. That makes it easier for them to picture where their money goes and how it helps the cause! 

So, get as specific as possible. Share who your nonprofit helps, how you help, and where you help. 

If $10 feeds a child in a developing nation for a day? Say so! Find ways to paint that picture in their mind, and you’ll see more conversions on your site. 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DO #4: Pay Attention to Your Headlines Above the Scroll

On your nonprofit website, on social media posts, and in emails, if your copywriting doesn’t immediately snag their attention? Your reader is going to keep scrolling (or click off of the page entirely!). 

We’re dealing with shorter and shorter attention spans. That means you have less than 15 seconds to grab someone’s attention and keep them engaged. 

So always pay attention to your headlines! 

Here are a few ways to do it: 

  • Create urgency to convey your nonprofit needs help now.
  • Grab their attention with mind-blowing statistics or numbers.
  • Pique their curiosity so they want to read what happens next.


Copywriting for Nonprofits DO #5: Tell Your Reader What to Do Next

Imagine this. Your nonprofit team spends so much time and effort creating the copywriting for the organization’s website. 

The readers love it. They’re engaged. They’re staying on the site for way longer than they were before. 

But you still don’t see them converting. They’re not making donations. 

If everything else is in place, what could possibly cause that? 

There’s a good chance you left them hanging. Because if you don’t tell the reader what to do next or where to go? The odds of them figuring it out for themselves is low.  That's simply because it'd take too much energy. So, instead, they click off the page entirely. 

Give them clear buttons that call them to action. Tell them where they should go next or what they should do.


5 Major Don’ts for Nonprofit Copywriting: 

Now, the 5 major do’s are important for nonprofit copywriting. But what should you steer clear of? 

You can check your copy for the following: 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DON’T #1: Fill Your Copywriting with Fluff

Content marketing for nonprofits is different from copywriting for nonprofits. With content, you have more time and room to give more information.

That usually results in lengthier content, like long-form blog articles. 

But, with copywriting? The goal is to encourage readers to take action. And that requires keeping their attention span. 

So you need to focus on short, concise, intentional copywriting. Don’t fill it with fluff. Don’t beat around the bush. 

Tell them what you need and how they can give it to you! Don’t dilute your message with fluff. 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DON’T #2: Forget to Use Compelling Language and Words

Yes, you want to be direct in your copywriting. But you also want to infuse that copy with compelling language. 

For example, rather than saying “Donate Today!” try more nuanced language like, “Feed a Child Now.” 

Or instead of saying, “Subscribe to our email list,” try saying, “Be a part of the community.” 

Using emotion-evoking, action-invoking language is a surefire way to encourage readers to donate and support your organization.


Copywriting for Nonprofits DON’T #3: Write to Everyone

This might sound counterintuitive, but bear with us. 

Writing to appeal to a group of people is much harder than narrowing it down to one person. When you try to appeal to a bunch of people, you get confused about how to say things. You want to address everyone’s scenario, rather than just one person. 

And that creates confusion and disconnection between your nonprofit’s copywriting and your ideal donors. 

Instead, use your ideal donor persona. And pretend you’re writing copy for that one person. 


Copywriting for Nonprofits DON’T #4: Make It All About You

Believe it or not, you shouldn’t make your nonprofit copywriting all about your organization. 

Now, yes, in certain places (like your “About” page), the copy will share information about the organization. 

But in general, your nonprofit copywriting should be all about your supporters. Because they’re the ones you’re appealing to! 

So, if your copywriting uses a lot of “we,” see if you can restructure the sentences to start with your reader first. 

It will help your organization connect with your readers even more! 

Nonprofit copywriting is a blend of art and science. And when you practice it enough, it will be one of the best things that serves your organization! 

Because people need to communicate effectively before they’re ready to support an organization. 

Want to start learning how to do copywriting for nonprofits? This training will show you! 

Get Your Copywriting for Online Fundraising Training Here!

Topics: online marketing