7 Ways to Ruin Your Nonprofit's Call to Actions

Hillary Skeffington September 09, 2015, by Hillary Skeffington

As Part III of our blog series on Call to Actions comes to fruition, let’s reflect on what we’ve concluded up until now. We’ve mulled over 6 vital optimization tips, and we’ve jumped headfirst into 3 case studies of credible nonprofits and how their CTAs could improve. In these 2 info-packed articles, we’ve covered a lot of ground, reiterated and emphasized key points, and provided a plethora of tips and strategies. In light of talking about different tips and examples on improving your nonprofit’s Call to Action, it’s equally important to supply some tips on what not to do.

And so, here’s our definitive list of 7 proven strategies that will surely kill the impact of your nonprofit’s Call to Actions.

1. Oversell & Don’t Deliver

It’s common practice to want to promise the moon and the stars to capture a click. As an integral part of human nature, we tend to over exaggerate and “round up” when it comes to influencing people to interact with our products or ideas. While we may associate this concept with the cheesy car salesmen down the street, the reality is, nonprofits are just as guilty. When someone decides to donate to your cause, they want to know where their money is being allocated and how. In the nonprofit industry, a mistake that will surely put your organization in the gutter is advertising one thing and delivering another. Maybe this year donations would best be allocated in buying new staff resources such as computers, which may not be the most exciting idea to sell donors on, but is equally important. No matter the cause, transparency is key when it comes to creating an effective CTA.

2. Blending & Hiding

There are a myriad of steps you can take to ensure that the CTA on your site’s homepage stays hidden. These include, but are not limited to;

  • Applying the same color scheme of the website to the CTA.
  • Lacking boldness and vibrancy.
  • Placing the CTA below the fold
  • Making it too small.

Simply put, in order for the Call to Action to reach its maximum potential, it needs to stand out.

3. Passive Language

Arguably worse than blending or hiding your CTA, is using vague or passive language. Similar to what was discussed in parts I and II of the series, verbiage is everything when it comes to a great Call to Action. Long-winded phrases, or non-action compelling verbs give your audience the go-ahead to ignore donating, volunteering, or supporting the nonprofit. Don’t worry about being pushy or imposing, the CTA is one area where you can be aggressive and directly ask for what you want. Avoid words such as “submit” to use for a CTA and save the less exciting verbiage for later.

4. Not Demonstrating Value

Not to be confused with over-embellishing a nonprofit CTA is giving it value. Every great Call to Action answers the bulging question so what? Provide value and answer this inquiry by incorporating imagery and statistics to the Call to Action. Give your audience reason as to why they should support your nonprofit’s cause.

5. Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Call to Actions that are pushed too soon or that are being communicated to the wrong audience is a sloppy mistake. CTAs should coincide with the content of a page and be in alignment with the interest of your audience. The best way to effectively mediate this common issue may take some strategic planning and testing on your end. On the homepage, it may be in the best interest of your nonprofit to push the “Donate Now” CTA above others, whereas, on the blog, you may want to influence visitors to sign up for your monthly newsletter. Dig deep into your nonprofit’s website analytics before making decisions on which CTAs will go where.

6. Competing Buttons

There are lots of things visitors can do when they explore a nonprofit’s website. They can donate, start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, volunteer, subscribe to a newsletter, etc. In efforts to give an audience the full spread of action-items so they have access to everything all at once, things can get overwhelming. When a visitor clicks on the “Donate Now” CTA and are taken to the landing page, they won’t want to be greeted by a competing CTA that says “Start a P2P Fundraiser”. These conflicting action-compelling buttons are equally important, which is why the shouldn’t be on the same page.

7. Not Testing

Above all else discussed in this post, there is one mistake that trumps all...not testing. It should be common practice to test the design, placement, and verbiage of all your nonprofit’s Call to Actions to find what combination works best. You see, everything else in the post has been dictated by what most commonly doesn’t work for a majority of nonprofit organizations, when in reality, it’s completely dependant on what works for your nonprofit.If the best strategy for your nonprofit’s CTA is to completely disregard all that was previously discussed in this post, then so be it. As long as you’ve tested and have found a plan that will benefit your nonprofit.

 

Hillary Skeffington

Hillary Skeffington

Hillary Skeffington is the Communications & Partnership Manager at Elevation. While Hillary started as a volunteer for nonprofits, she has recently dived into the nonprofit web design industry in efforts to provide nonprofits with quality websites so they can drive greater change with their online presence.

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