writing a call to action

A call to action is what drives readers to do something: get more information, subscribe, donate, volunteer, or do anything else you want or need them to do. Whether you’re writing content for your nonprofit website, a blog post, an ad, or an email newsletter, having an effective call to action (CTA) is crucial.

Since the call to action can persuade or dissuade someone, many people think they’re difficult to write. There is a lot riding on your CTA so it’s normal to feel pressure to get it right. Luckily, writing an effective CTA isn’t as difficult as it seems! To help you become a CTA-writing pro, we have 5 tips for writing compelling calls to action.

Before we get to the tips, let’s talk about where you should put CTAs on your site or in your emails.

Where to Put Nonprofit Calls to Action

Believe it or not, there has been a lot of research into where you should put CTAs. On a website, it should be located ‘above the fold’, meaning that it should be on the top part of the page and people shouldn’t have to scroll at all to see your CTA. It may also be a good idea to add one at the bottom of the page, as well as above the fold. Whether you have a CTA in the footer of your site so it’s visible on every page or you put a custom CTA on every post or page is up to you.

The same goes for email newsletters. Put a CTA above the fold and, if you like, again at the bottom of the message.

In the example below, Capital Business Solutions client Cincinnati Museum Center put a CTA button for their featured exhibit on the front page above the fold, making it easy for visitors to get their tickets.

example of a CTA that is above the fold

With an idea of where to put them, let’s talk about how to write a winning CTA.

How To Write an Effective Call to Action

Keep the following things in mind when creating your CTAs and you’ll see higher conversions in no time.

1.Decide Exactly What You Want People To Do

Before you write anything, you have to decide what readers should do. Subscribe, share, like on social media, donate, sign up to volunteer, the action is up to you!

Just make sure it makes sense for the piece you’re writing. For instance, making a call for donations in an email about needing volunteers for an upcoming event isn’t the best CTA.

2. Get Creative But Keep it Clear

While this seems like contradictory advice, it’s not. CTAs don’t have to be dry or serious. You can get creative, just make sure that you’re still clear about what you want people to do. Avoid fluffy language and metaphors that could be misunderstood (or not understood at all.)

Here are a few examples for a hypothetical community garden project:

Creative but unclear: “Help the garden flourish this summer!” Are they calling for donations or volunteers? You can’t tell.

Creative and clear: “Sign up to spend a Saturday in the garden this summer!” Now it’s clear that they’re calling for volunteers.

3. Use Strong Verbs & Commands

This is another way to be clear about what you want people to do. While it’s good manners to ask politely, your CTA isn’t the place for “please.” “Donate to the garden fund today” is far more effective than “Please donate to help the garden.”

To get you started, here are some verbs commonly used in CTAs:

  • Act (now/today)
  • Donate
  • Start (now/today)
  • Sign up
  • Share
  • Learn More
  • Contact

As you can see, these are all straight to the point. Using commands like these into your CTAs tells your readers exactly what will happen when they click the button or link.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

This is an age-old sales trick but it also works when you’re not actually selling anything. When people think they have a limited amount of time to do something, they’re more likely to take action. In addition to putting “now” or “today” at the end of your CTA, you can put deadlines in your call to action. “Donate now to help us reach our goal of $XXX by midnight tonight!”

5. Inject Emotion

Appealing to emotion is another time-tested way to get people to take action. As a non-profit, you likely have a ready-made appeal to emotion. Who wouldn’t want to help make the world a better place? Here are some examples of CTAs that go beyond the ask and speak directly to your reader:

  • Join the grassroots movement to help our coast.
  • Change the world with just a few dollars.
  • Your donation helps keep a senior citizen warm this winter.

Don’t you want to donate now? Appealing straight to people’s emotions is a great way to get them to take action.

Let Capital Business Solutions Improve the Way Your Organization Handles Donations

When your CTAs are effective, you can probably expect an increase in donations, volunteers, and email subscribers. Our nonprofit software solutions help you manage donors and can streamline your entire accounting process. To learn more, call us at (888) 249-6008 or fill out our online contact form below!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.