Donate Now – The Workings of a Successful Nonprofit Call To Action

Chances are, your nonprofit has its own emotional and engaging story that causes people to donate. Chances are, you can create a quality call to action that gets people to take that step.

What is it that makes some nonprofit’s call to action cause us to click off the page while others fill us with inspiration and lead us to take action? We analyzed a few nonprofit call to action landing pages to better understand what they’re doing right.

Water for People 

I don’t know about you, but upon seeing the smiling face of this child, I feel excited to learn more about how Water for People helps others like this. Why?

– The “donate now” text makes it clear how to take action, but it is not too in-your-face since it is off to the side and is in a nice faded text.

– Their caption goes on to explain that, by donating, you are doing more than just giving your money away once – you are investing in the future and helping them get closer to “complete water coverage” for everyone.

– They were thoughtful about their overall use of color, especially with the orange CTA matching the child’s dress.

Habitat for HumanityHabitat-FINISH

The layout of this page draws you in to read the central text. How?

– By interrupting the page with the text, your eyes go from trying to make sense of the background to reading about it in the central column.

– There’s really no headline that summarizes this page which might also encourage the viewer to read through the entire caption.

– Once the viewer starts reading, it’s hard to stop as the text describes how a child suffers if there aren’t these donations.

– By showing numbers in the bar above the CTA, the potential donor can see how their contribution could work towards the goal.

charity: water

Again, the smile on this girl’s face leaves the viewer feeling hopeful – you want to be a part of making this possible.

-charity:water does a great job of moving your eye towards the donate now option – the girl’s gaze points you right to it.

– Emphasizing who it is that is benefiting from this cause and even showing the action they are able to take because of a donation increases the page’s effectiveness.

– The blurred out background behind the CTA and color choices make the CTA page aesthetically pleasing and easy to take in.

From the examples above, we can see that there are some commonalities that make for strong CTA’s:

1. Keep the landing page clear of distractions. Once viewers have come here, you want their next step to be a simple choice; they should see that the best option is to click through wit the CTA button. After they’ve clicked through and taken action is when you should bring them to another landing page that thanks them for their donation and guides them to other site options.

2. Show the effect your nonprofit’s cause has on real people. When you demonstrate proof of former donations’ affect on those in need, the viewer will be more likely to trust that their funds can really help others.

3. Be specific. State what exactly a donation will contribute to – even indicating exact amounts that lead to a certain benefit to others can help the donor make their choice.

4. Keep it manageable. Breaking down donations into smaller amounts can help the viewer digest the amount they can contribute. Seeing that smaller amounts are also okay can make the viewer feel better about their contribution.

5. Make it look nice! The landing page is just as important as an attractive home page. If it looks over-crowded or too technical, there’s less of a chance that your viewer will want to stay on it to read through your information.

Also read about Facebook’s Donate Now Feature they’ve recently added to make donating easier on your nonprofit Facebook page.  For more on the overall landing page layout, read Updates to Landing Pages Make Viewers 2-3X More Likely to Convert and How to Design a Great Landing Page.

Taking Notes From 2015’s Best Nonprofit Marketer

Upon receiving the title, “Best Nonprofit Marketer” of 2015, Ettore Rossetti reflected, “It just takes one innovative idea to transform an organization” (American Marketing Association Foundation).

Rossetti leads the charge for Save the Children‘s marketing and fundraising. Once you scroll through their multiple social platforms and read about their innovative fundraising strategies, you see that since the beginning, he has had plenty of innovative ideas that continue to transform the organization.

To start, Save the Children’s social media following has increased from zero to nearly 3 million and has funded more than $20 million of its programs through fundraising. A closer look at their website and social networks reveal some of the innovative tactics.


Homepage: Right on the homepage, they underline the need for the viewer to donate, with clear and compelling statistics. They create an easy pathway to donate or get involved with action-oriented donation buttons, a newsletter subscription form, and social media sharing icons.


Donation Page: They emphasize that donating is easy and necessary. Included on the homepage is a pie chart, highlighting that 89% of their donations go to the services. Their main method of donation is monthly, which might make it feel more manageable to donors. They also subtly point to numerous credentials in the upper right-hand part of the page, which makes putting in your bank account information feel safer.


Blogging: The blog at Save the Children is full of stories and updates, all revolving around their mission but from various viewpoints. Featuring “Stories From the Field” (shows what their charity is doing from the perspective of a real volunteer), recent announcements in their realm (responding to relevant matters in a timely fashion), and numerous other engaging stories.

The blog also isn’t very flashy, showing you that the quality of the content is often more important than the design. The categories are clear and the posts often include short bios of the authors for context.


Social Media: Your nonprofit might not have the time to be on more than one or two social platforms; if you don’t, that’s okay! Regardless of how many social profiles you have, consistency is important. You can glean a lot from looking through what Rossetti and the team have done for Save the Children’s social media presence.

Most notable: across all accounts there is a consistent tone, aesthetic, and presence. They are all updated frequently and have a feeling of authenticity.

With their Twitter, they are the first to respond to any of the day’s news and updates in their field. They feature captivating statistics, facts, and stories that prompt their following to retweet and share.


Facebook features longer stories, especially promoting stories of the lives their nonprofit changes. They seem to keep in mind that Facebook is a channel for socializing rather than selling, so they share stories that you would want to share with friends.


For more ideas on how to keep up with the work of Rossetti and other such nonprofit marketers, read up on some tools and tricks with Nonprofit Content Marketing: Tips & Tools to Getting Started. If you’re a small team and need more of a kickstart for the basics in nonprofit marketing, take a look at Wearing a lot of Nonprofit Hats? Expand Your Digital Knowledge Base.

Is Your Nonprofit Blogging? Why You Should Get Writing

“Marketing without a blog is like holding a wine tasting without the wine. Your blog is that hero ingredient that gets people raving about you.” – Amy Butcher, MarketingProfs

We all know that if you can get people to rave about your nonprofit, they will probably support it if not also promote it. If you’re going to invest time in your website and social media presence, you should optimize your efforts through nonprofit blogging.

Blogging is a nonprofit marketer’s secret to successful SEO, a clean website, a wide array of shareable content, and most importantly, informed and excited donors and volunteers. In the following bullets, we will point you to what we mean and why we love nonprofit blogging.


  • Another place to tell your story

“…after executing its mission, the most important thing a nonprofit can do is communicate that impact.” – Joe Waters, Hubspot

Nonprofit marketing specialist, Joe Walters, underlines that telling your story is second only to the actual work of your nonprofit. One of the most effective ways to communicate is through writing and imagery and one of the most accessible platforms for this content is a blog. Look back at our post on how to tell this story in: How Do You Sum Up Your Nonprofit Online?

  • Another method to understanding your mission

You may have heard the quote by David McCullough,

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly”

In short, if you devote the time to a blog, you are not only contributing to the blog itself, but also to the clarity of your nonprofit’s mission. You are taking the time to understand your mission enough to clearly articulate it to the world. And that is time well spent.

  • Successful SEO

With a blog you first produce additional written content, providing more room to incorporate SEO. However, it also provides you with another space for content in general as you can compile imagery, infographics, video and podcasts for your blogs.

Not only does this give you a leg up as far as informing your audience, but it also provides more room for SEO through your content’s titles, descriptions, captions and ALT tags. If you want to learn more, read ALT Text: The Ins & Outs of Using Photo Description Tags and Blogging & SEO Best Practices.



  • Successful tracking

Unlike tradition press releases, with nonprofit blogging, you can analyze who came to your blog, how long they stayed, how they found it and much more with analytics. It’s no longer a mystery of what happened to your recent article or even what people are looking at on your site. If you have a targeted blog, you can better track what’s going on for your readers. Read more about Google Analytics and Successful Tracking.

  • A tidier website

Your nonprofit has a lot to say, but that doesn’t fit well with a clean and effective homepage. In order to remove some of the confusion when someone lands on your site, you need to ensure that your home page and consecutive landing pages are not too filled with text and other content.

The solution? Blogging, of course! With links to your blog, you can still say a lot on your site, fit in ample content for SEO, and keep your mission AND website concise. For more on effective landing pages, take a look at More Than Just Content.

  • A quieter place to say more

Providing a link to a blog also removes your content from the noise of social media and places your readers into a space where they can quietly read your story. This separate page provides room for the longer, more impactful stories of which your nonprofit is full. Write about your latest endeavor and your favorite success stories without being weary of the 145 character space limit on Twitter.

Need more of an incentive to get blogging, or simply want some help with it all? Contact ArcStone today and they’ll walk you through it. You can also read Nonprofit Content Marketing: Tools & Tracking for more ideas on how to get started.



Nonprofit Content Marketing: Metrics to Track and Tools to Get Started

When it comes to nonprofit marketing, storytelling should be #1.  Stories + your mission are the common thread that connects staff, donors, volunteers and the general public. Because of this, content marketing should always be a part of your strategy.

According to Content Marketing Institute,

61% of nonprofit marketers use content marketing.

Despite storytelling and content being extremely valuable, only 35% of marketers said their organization is effective at it. It is time consuming, slow to show return on investment and requires consistent effort and focus.

To increase the effectiveness of your nonprofit content marketing, you first need to consider what metrics are important.

– Traffic – the number of visitors to your blog, videos, etc. directly impacts all other metrics. Without it, you can’t expect to see more engagement. Be sure the content is high quality and focused on audience/goals. For more on constructing your audience and targeting them through content, read about ArcStone’s nonprofit tech talk.

– Conversions – your database of contacts and segmented email lists are one of your most valuable assets. Be sure to measure conversion or subscribe rate.

 – Shares – unlike in many other industries, the share-ability of nonprofit content is much higher. This should be a focus.

These seem incredibly obvious, but without diligently measuring results you will forever consider your content marketing efforts ineffective.

The other big roadblock to successful nonprofit content? Getting started. Here are some important tools to make it easy.


– WordPress or other platform with a simple blog template

– Social publishing tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to track engagement

– Email tool such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, your nonprofit database software, etc.

SumoMe for email collection

– Google analytics to track metrics and best sources: read ArcStone’s best practices and set up blog

Evernote or Google Docs for post collaboration

To take advantage of the most effective form of marketing for nonprofits, you need to really dive in. Luckily, with the help of the above tools, it’s definitely doable.

5 Ways Nonprofits Use Pinterest

If you haven’t considered Pinterest as a possibility in your nonprofit marketing strategy for 2016, you might want to think again. It’s the 3rd most popular social network available, yet many of us overlook it as we assume Facebook and Twitter are more worth our time. We’ve found plenty of nonprofits that view Pinterest as more than a DIY craft hub or recipe book.

Before diving in, think about a few concerns. Make sure you have the time to devote to Pinterest before adding yet another social platform. You don’t want to put it out there if it’s not going to be well-monitored.  You could put that time into improving your pre-existing platforms, plus you don’t want people to see your board as under-developed. However, if you have the attention to give it and your audience is full of avid pinners, it’s a great way to get more content out there and engage with followers.

Hubspot, Sprout Social and Marketingland have pointed us to examples and stats that underline Pinterest’s power. Nonprofits use Pinterest as…

1. a website

Although having an actual website is probably a more effective option for you, there is definitely a way to use Pinterest as a hub in itself. optimizes Pinterest by using boards as web pages. They have boards such as “Who we are” and “How we can help” to provide visually-driven information. It works especially well for them since their target audience is breast cancer survivors and they use a lot of graphics to tell their story.


2. a video database

Rather than just depending on Youtube as a space to hold all your nonprofit’s videos, you can put them on Pinterest boards. The Gates Foundation puts their favorite videos on their page, using clever titles and captivating images to get people to watch them or to pin them to watch later.

3. a thank you to sponsors & supporters

There are many ways to thank sponsors, volunteers and donors, but recognizing them on this platform with their own pin and personalized note, could be a way they haven’t been thanked before. ASPCA thanks their partners and supporters through a board which also serves as a nice visual representation of who supports them.

4. a show & tell board for unique ways to donate

The more creative people can be when donating and campaigning for a cause, the more traction it can get on social platforms. charity: water pins interesting ways that people have fundraised on their board, Creative Fundraising. With idea-generation at the core of this website’s purpose,  you can use it as a way to get donors and volunteers to be creative and excited about your cause.

5. a storytelling board

Even though the American Red Cross has a long history, they are able to tell their story on one page. Their Pinterest page is rich with images and stories of what makes their organization unique. You can tell an entire story through effective imagery and insightful pins. The hope is that people will pin one image they like, land on your board, and then continue to read through your full history.

You can discover some more ways nonprofits use Pinterest in Hubspot’s blog, 10 Nonprofits That Are Totally Nailing Pinterest Marketing or look at some of Pinterest’s success stories.

Year-End Social Publishing – 5 Step Guide for Nonprofits

Here we go again: another year’s end on the horizon and a bit of anxiety as we realize how much more we have yet to accomplish. A recent webinar by a notable nonprofit marketing strategist, John Haydon, gave us some insightful tips and tricks on how to stay on top of your goals. Specifically he pointed to ways to manage your social media outlets and end on a strong year-end social publishing note.

Read the following five steps as you consider your own approach to your year-end social publishing schedule. Then, follow the links for some helpful tools Haydon pointed out to us.

1. Plan

Think about your nonprofit’s target audiences and what actions they would ideally take before year’s end. Through the following steps, you’ll create blogs and social media posts that could eventually lead them to that action. To start, find an app or system that will map out the next couple months – both to assign members of your team to tasks / blogs, and to get what Haydon calls a “bird’s eye view” of your strategy.

-Set up a publishing calendar: Trello

-Generate / Track progress: manage your Google Analytics Goals. Read a post on how to do so here, Google Analytics Google Analytics Setup and Best Practices

2. Research

Understand what other causes your audiences care about (especially at this time of year) so you can participate in the conversation. Hopefully, with properly done SEO, you’ll even show up in results when they search for information on those topics.

-Find out what people are searching: Facebook Search

-Get an overview of trending topics: BuzzSumo

3. Tell your story

The holidays are a wonderful time to tell your story and draw people in to your nonprofit. Haydon emphasizes how social media is all about connecting with people, not selling services. Make your stories “visual / emotional / relatable / actionable / shareable.” Take a look at his favorite examples below:


4. Monitor

If you’re amping up your content, you’ll also want to have it all well-managed. Consider some of the following apps in order to stay on top of both the news and your social interactions more easily. They are also mobile apps, so you can even receive updates when you’re away from your computer.

– Marketing / Nonprofit news: Feedly, Flipboard and Reeder

– Social publishing monitoring: Hootsuite or Pages Monitor

5. Recycle

Look through your previous year’s best posts – what received the most attention on social platforms or drove the most traffic to your site? With the top performers, promote them again or repurpose their content. Notice which images worked for high click-through rates and attach those to future events and content.

– Study your content: Buffer

– Repurpose your images: Canva

For the full webinar, you can visit Haydon’s site and download his slides on For extra year-end help, contact ArcStone.

Audience Persona Development: A Guide from ArcStone

The development of personas is crucial in web design and marketing strategy, yet it is often overlooked. We put so much time and energy into producing content, keeping our social media accounts active and driving traffic to our site, but do we even know if our efforts are effective for our audience? Or better yet, if any of these messages got to them in the first place?

This is why ArcStone’s VP of Marketing, Lisa Hirst Carnes, gave a talk a few weeks back on audience persona development for nonprofits. She walked attendees through how a nonprofit might develop their personas, create the right content for them, and then get this content to them when they’re online.

Read on for the recap and to discover how you might better understand this process.


  1. Understand what a persona is in the first place. They are defined as fictional portrayals of your client base.
  2. Ask yourself who you want to attract to your nonprofit and segment these people into lists (donors, volunteers, those in need). We find that most nonprofits have 3-5 personas.
  3. Define each type of persona more thoroughly. To do so, ask yourself what a typical day in their life looks like, where they spend time on the web, and essentially, how they would interact with your organization. For example, you’ll want to know when they might open their emails so you can know when to send out your newsletter. You’ll want to understand if they prefer Facebook or LinkedIn to know to which social media platform you’ll want to direct your attention. persona-development-guide
  4. Think about the emotions of your personas. Who do they trust and what would their concerns be? Keep these in mind when building out your content (blogs, social media posts). For more on how trust works in marketing, take a look at a blog written by Lisa, “What’s Trust Got to Do with It?”
  5. Use data that is easily accessible to you. We use some of the following at ArcStone: Google Analytics, Google Trends, audience persona interviews, and an Audience Persona Builder.
  6. Keep track of your segments. We’ve used Trello to fully define each persona – check out an example board here
  7. Take action through an organized social publishing process. You can also use a tool like Trello to create boards for each persona. In the first column, describe your persona; in the next, write out a list of blog topics and other content they might like; then create columns for “in process,” “social media promotion,” and “complete” so that you can roll out content for each audience.

For the full recap of this event, take a look at the Nonprofit Tech Talk Recap. If you want to be updated on future talks similar to this, sign up for our newsletter, The Nerdy Nonprofit.

Prepare for #GivingTuesday in 7 Steps

Before the big day arrives, you can prepare for Giving Tuesday early. Read on for 7 steps to take now that will help you out down the road.

  1. Plan out a social media strategy, keeping in mind that hashtags and imagery can increase click-through rates, especially those that include #GivingTuesday. First create goals, asking what you want your donors to do (like your page, pledge to donate, subscribe to a newsletter). Then plan your content that will lead them to do this, maybe using a tool like Trello to map out a schedule. trello-giving-tuesday-social_media-strategy
  2. Segment your current lists, using data to understand how to message to your donors effectively. Our post, Giving Season – Leverage Your Contacts, explains how you can use the information you already have and craft content around engaging these supporters.
  3. Establish your mobile-friendly donation form now, promoting early before the big kick off. Check if it’s mobile friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Consider building custom forms that capture email or mobile number for future marketing use. giving-season-giving-tuesday-mobile-donations
  4. Create videos and imagery that you can use for thank you’s to your Giving Season donors. A blog YouTube for Nonprofits points out ways in which video can benefit you and how easy creation can be. is another resource for creating images with text overlay for your social media post.
  5. Don’t forget about millennials and consider marketing directly to them. The following post explains why they are such a valuable audience and how you might reach them and get them involved: How to Market to Millennials
  6. Work with a local business or large private donor, perhaps asking them to match your other donors’ funds. Using a tool like Double the Donation can help connect your nonprofit with companies that will match others’ donations.
  7. Partner with a local organization to strengthen your brand and cross-market. According to MobileCause, 91% of users will switch to using a different brand if they find out that the brand is associated with a good cause.


Download an infographic that walks through more interesting Giving Tuesday and Giving Season facts, tips, and ideas: GivingTuesdayInfographic. There’s also a whole site devoted to marketing for this time of year at, including case studies and helpful tools.

Nonprofits Market to Millennials, Part 2

In part 1 we discussed the profound impact millennials can have on your nonprofit. Knowing how to cater your nonprofit’s programs and projects to appeal to millennials was in part one, but knowing how to show them what you’re doing in the first place is perhaps an even greater feat. Read on for the second step on how to market to millennials.

2. Know where millennials spend their time online and how to best engage with them.

In the Pew Research’s Internet Project, it was revealed that 80 percent of millennials use social sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and Instagram. Likewise about 75 percent use their phones to access the internet in the first place.

These are just a couple stats to keep in mind when reaching out to them. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Promote social sharing! When millennials see other peers supporting a cause, they are much more likely to take notice.
    • Increase the likelihood of social shares by creating an easy share link on your site’s page. Similarly, if you tell them to “share this” or retweet, they might feel that they can take action in the cause.
    • Perhaps run your campaign as a contest as did the Ice Bucket Challenge last August, 2014.
    • Take advantage of the social in social media and host a social event. People tend to come on Facebook for the update on the latest events for which they’ve signed up or that their friends have. You can even talk to local companies to see if they want to collaborate – Surly Brewery allows nonprofits to host free events in their event room. The more unique and enjoyable the event, the more likely it will receive social shares.
  • Use images: Millennials thrive on photos- especially with the ever-increasing popularity of photo-driven social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. With the addition of a photo, they may feel more intrigued to click on one of your messages.
    • According to a study done by eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide.
    • In the same study, there was a 87% interaction rate from followers with no other post type receiving more than a 4% interaction rate.
  • Donating should seem manageable. Make it feel doable in both its amount and its method of payment. It should not seem like it can only be done in huge amounts and only through sending a check in the mail.
    • With options like mobilecause and Facebook’s new “donate now” option, it’s easy to segment donations into smaller amounts and reach millennials where they already are online.
    • Be specific with where the donations go. Promoting that a $20 donation is used for ________, shows millennials that even a little of their effort can go a long way.
    • The nonprofit, Feed My Starving Children, says $0.22 feeds a child each day and goes on to break down more statistics to emphasize the small input and large results.
  • Follow the lead of other successful nonprofits and take advantage of email campaigns. This form of marketing has worked well for ArcStone, and other marketers can vouch for its success: loginradius.
    • Nonprofit, charity:water, gathers a following by encouraging people to set up their own campaign. One of their main pieces of advice is to email relatives and friends to gather support and report the cause.
    • Make sure emails are mobile responsive / easily legible on a phone, knowing that nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile devices.

In the final post we will discuss how to emphasize the aspects of your nonprofit’s mission in a way that most resonates with a millennial.

Want more information now? Here’s a post done on Attracting Millennial Donors or you can contact ArcStone to strategize on more ways to market effectively.

#1 Challenge Nonprofit Marketers Face? Managing Their Website

Every year, the marketing automation company, HubSpot, surveys thousands of marketers and salespeople — HubSpot customers and non-customers alike. They are polled on their biggest challenges, tactics they’ve used and the latest trends they are noticing over the past year. Among those surveyed, 5% were nonprofit marketers. Below is a summary of the nonprofit results found in the State of Inbound 2015 report.

Where’s the webmaster

Managing the website came out as the biggest challenge nonprofit marketers face. We all know that keeping the site up to date is a perennial challenge for nonprofits, but I was pretty shocked to see that nonprofits came in 10-15% higher than B2B and B2C. Websites are incredibly valuable for nonprofits, even more so than many other industries, but it seems that the tight budgets and staff constraints are weighing on the minds of nonprofit marketers.

Proving marketing ROI and securing enough budget came in close at #2 and 3. Each of these three challenges are closely intertwined. Proving ROI can often make securing budgets easier. With more budget, keeping the website up to date or hiring someone to do so is more feasible.

So I guess the big question this coming year is how can nonprofit marketers successfully prove ROI? You may argue that it’s hard to make progress without a decent website to begin with, but with the many low cost tools out there, don’t use that as an excuse. Educate yourself on the latest in digital marketing and get to work.

Never enough leads

According to the report, increasing the # of contacts/leads generated is the #1 marketing priority for nonprofits. This is not much of a surprise considering that generating leads continues to be the toughest task for marketers across all industries. Nonprofits in particular typically take advantage of fundraising events and donations to capture contact information. However, I feel where many nonprofit marketers are missing the boat is increasing opportunities for newsletter subscribes and creating better overall blog content. Every nonprofit has a newsletter or blog, but frankly, they aren’t doing much to increase opt-ins and the quality of the content and experience is very low. You can differentiate yourself from other nonprofits by stepping your game up.

Subsequently, the second most important marketing activity for nonprofit marketers was converting contacts to customers. This is top of mind for me after writing a post last week on the importance of fully utilizing the database of contacts your nonprofit already has this upcoming giving season. If you can effectively segment your lists and create relevant, unique campaigns for each, you can increase donations without needing to find new donors.

With content marketing and automation starting to catch fire in the nonprofit space, the State of Inbound Report is very relevant. It’s not every day that a report compares B2B, B2C and nonprofit organizations, so I found the report to be quite interesting.

Download the entire State of Inbound Marketing & Sales 2015 Report by clicking here.