The Most Powerful Words and Phrases to Use to Ignite Your Fundraising Campaign

There’s no shortage of causes for donors to give to, so encouraging them to part with their money for your fundraising campaign comes down to selecting the most effective words to convince them that they’re making the best choice.

Your campaign is worth supporting, but no one else will see it that way until you can help their heartstrings feel the same tug yours did the first day you were inspired to fight for your cause. Here are the right words to use to do that.

Focus on who their contribution is ultimately helping

INSTEAD OF: “Would you be willing to give to the Hartford County Animal Rescue Shelter?”

WRITE THIS: “Would you be willing to help thousands of our local animals find forever homes?”

Mentioning the name of your organization or cause puts the focus on a group of people rather than on who the group is helping. In the example above, the suggested wording puts images of cute, needy animals in the mind of the prospective donor rather than images of a group of strangers.

Focus on what they can do directly to help. Then they can connect their giving directly to solving a problem.

The same words don’t necessarily work for different audiences

Is your target audience predominantly female? Or male? Knowing your demographics will help you choose the best words in your fundraising campaign material.

Why the difference? Studies have shown that certain words are more effective with women while others work better with men. 

For example, words like “caring,” compassionate,” and “kind” tend to strike a chord with female audiences while words like “loyal,” “responsible,” and “strong” attract a male audience. 

Use words that convey a sense of urgency

There’s no shortage of things to be distracted by in the 21st century, so the moment you capture someone’s attention, you’ll need to fight to keep it. If you make your pitch and your prospective donor says, “I’ll think about it,” that will likely be the last time your cause ever crosses their mind.

Spur their sense of urgency with words like “today,” “quick,” “now,” “immediate,” and even “urgent.” Pair that with a story that illustrates why your cause needs their immediate support.

Here are some powerful phrases to keep in your pocket

Have you ever wanted a Magic 8 Ball that could reveal the perfect phrase to use in whatever situation you’re in? Whoever invents that could buy the entire planet with the profits. But, sadly, it’s up to each of us to find the best words to say ourselves.

Having a good list of phrases in your pocket certainly helps, though:

  • “Would you…”
  • “Will you…”
  • “…has pledged…”
  • “Because they deserve better…”
  • “…given the chance…”
  • “We can afford…”
  • “Together we can have any kind of effect.”
  • “You can be the catalyst of change.”
  • “Your continued…”
  • “Be part of the solution.”

Alternatives to overusing the word ‘support’

“Support” is a great word. It conjures images of many hands doing what they can to elevate a cause and benefit society. But it’s such a great word that it’s easy to overuse it. Synonyms are our friends.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Contribution
  • Compassion
  • Gift
  • Help
  • Participation
  • Investment
  • Partnership
  • Encouragement
  • Generosity towards
  • Engagement
  • Assistance
  • Sponsorship
  • Kindheartedness
  • Concern

Do you notice a trend? Like the word “support,” these words evoke the feeling of partnering with a worthy movement to make the world a better place.

Words to consider avoiding

When it comes to words and phrases that you should nix from your fundraising vocabulary list, you’ll find no consensus when talking to the experts. That’s why you should give careful thought to whether to use these words or set them aside.

  • “Donate” — Plenty of people will defend this word, but it can give prospective donors the idea that you just want their money. What you want is more complex than that. You want their heart and their participation, and you want them to experience the shared joy that comes from impacting others for good.
  • “Hope to get” — The less confident you sound, the less confident people will be in your ability to fulfill your promise of using their money to move mountains.
  • “Even a dollar” — Will a single dollar from every donor support your cause? Probably not. Your language needs to aim higher.
  • “Programs” or “services” — Yawn.

Also avoid pretentious tones and industry buzzwords. You’re not just trying to reach people who spend all their days in the fundraising world. 

Some good words to use — because we just used them

Have you noticed some of our word choices? When writing about fundraising tips, it’s easy to pull vocabulary from your own nonprofit experience, as long as you don’t slip into the whirlpool of insider jargon.

Here are some of the words and phrases we employed:

  • Causes
  • Effective
  • Making the best choice
  • Worth supporting
  • Inspire to fight
  • Solving a problem
  • Immediate support
  • Benefit society
  • Partnering with a cause
  • Making the world a better place

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