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 point out what not to do.

And so, here’s our definitive list of 7 common mistakes that will kill your nonprofit’s Call to Actions.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 a reason as to why they should support your nonprofit’s cause.

4. 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 takes 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.

5. 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. By attempting to give an audience the full spread of action-items so that they have access to everything all at once, things can get overwhelming. There should never be more than two CTAs visible at once. And when a visitor clicks on the “Donate Now” CTA and is taken to the landing page, don’t include 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.

6. 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 dependent 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.

7. Oversell & Don’t Deliver

Finally, make sure you deliver on what is stated in your CTA. When someone decides to donate to your cause, they want to know where their money is being allocated and how. Be sure to fund initiatives according to how those donations were earmarked. Maybe this year donations would best be allocated to buying new staff resources such as computers, which may not be the most exciting idea to sell donors on, but is equally important. Reach out to your most valued supporters to ask them if they’d be willing to fund the computers so that your fundraising can focus on growing the base of donors that share your mission, but if your donation form says $100 gives 3 goats to a farmer in need, make sure that $100 goes to buying 3 goats. Similarly, if a $50 donation includes a tote as a thank-you gift, be sure you have enough totes (or a statement about limited supply or substitutions) and a plan for shipping them all out in a timely manner. There’s no trust in, and no future for your nonprofit, without transparency and follow-through. 


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