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Karen Zapp 13 min read

Tweets to Bring in the Money

Want to raise funds via Twitter this holiday season?  You’re not alone. 

But in order to be successful your tweets need to stand out from the rest of the noise on Twitter.  The words you write must be centered on donors; what’s important to them; how they helped your mission; and of course your appreciation for all they do. Being donor-centric brings in the money.

And if you’re a membership or trade association, just substitute “member” for “donor” and essentially the same holds true for you.
Today I’m going to share examples from Twitter – both good and bad.  These are verbatim as they appeared in the Twitter stream.

POOR Examples – How NOT to Do It

1. Tweet:  Can you help us reach our $1500 holiday gift goal??! Questions? Contact llatka@spectrumvt.org. Want to make a gift? http://bit.ly/fYjWD9   

Nonprofit is @SpectrumVT

Comments: The link goes directly to the @SpectrumVT online donation form with zero copy on why someone ought to donate.  They’re basically saying: “Here’s our charity.  Give us money.  You shouldn’t have to ask why; it’s obvious.”  Well, it’s not obvious to me.  Why should I help them reach their $1500 goal?  Why should I help?  Why should I care?  What difference will I make if I do?

I see a LOT of Tweets that resemble what @SpectrumVT did.  “We need help. Donate now … ”  Definitely NOT donor-centric copy.


2. Tweet:  http://bit.ly/fdo8nL

Nonprofit is @SanDimasRotary

Comments:  The link was the complete Tweet and it takes you to the @SanDimasRotary blog.  Why would a member click on this?  What benefit do they experience by spending their valuable time to visit wherever the link takes them? 


3. Tweet:  It's almost December, month of giving! Please donate today to raise literacy of deaf children! http://ht.ly/3hisM #nonprofit #literacy #deaf

Nonprofit is @CuedSpeech

Comments:  At least @CuedSpeech mentions that you’ll help “raise literacy of deaf children.”  I’d delete the first sentence and not use the word literacy.  Most of us “outsiders” simply think in terms of whether someone can read and not what their literacy level is.  Perhaps write something along these lines . . .

     It’s a struggle for deaf children learning to read. Many lag behind. Give the gift of reading and a fair chance at life: http://ht.ly/3hisM 


4. Tweet:  Here's the grindstone ------------> <----------- Here's my nose. Any questions??

Nonprofit is @KidsAreHeroes

Comments:  Yikes!  Why in the world did they send that out to their followers and donors?  Speaking for myself, my first thought was, “This person hates their job.”  Or they’re feeling sorry for themselves and I really don’t want to read about that either.


POSITIVE Examples – How to Do It (or closer to it)

1. Tweet: Modest Needs: Application of the Day: Keep Single Mom and her Child out of a Shelter http://bit.ly/gdzGp1 

Nonprofit is Modest Needs (used Twitter handle of @onlinegiving)

Comments: With this tweet the donor has a real good idea how they will make a difference!  And the link takes you to the story about the single Mom. 

My preference is to lead with the story.  If I’m a regular follower I might know what “Modest Needs: Application of the Day” is all about.  So in a Tweet I don’t think it needs to be repeated.  And for anyone else who might see the tweet, it only adds confusion.  Plus “application of the day” is cold, institutional-sounding jargon. 

When you delete the jargon it also leaves you room to add more emotion and story details. This helps draw more people to the website with the full story.  It will increase your chances of receiving a donationEven simple changes like this make it stronger (and there’s still room to add a story detail or two) . . .

     Help keep single Mom and her Child out of Shelter w/gift to Modest Needs charity … http://bit.ly/gdzGp1


2. Tweet: Donate $10 to job training in your community! Text GOODWILL & your ZIP Code to 85944! (Standard rates apply, donation added to phone bill.)

Nonprofit is @goodwillintl

Comments: Again, the donor has a pretty good idea how they can help. 

Their tweet is 139 characters. But if they rewrote it to what I show below (109 characters), they could also expand on how job training benefits everyone, including the donor.

     Give $10 to job training in YOUR town! Text GOODWILL & your Zip Code to 85944 (STD rates; pay via     phone bill)


3. Tweet: Veterans Support Organization, helps out a #Vietnam Navy Veteran with a $500 grant to put a security deposit down on his new apartment.

Nonprofit is @veteranssupport

Comments: It’s okay.  They’re sharing a success story, but it is a bit self-centered.  It would be more donor-centric if they said . . .

     Caring donors like you made it possible for #Vietnam Navy Veteran to get new apartment with $500 grant for security deposit. Thank you!

Writing donor-centric (or member-centric) copy requires you to forget that you work for a nonprofit.  You need the mindset and perspective of an outsider.  Then you can write about what’s important to outsiders in a way that resonates with them. 

Frankly, that’s very difficult for most people within the nonprofit organization to do.  You’re so close to the work . . . you’re so passionate about what you do . . . you know so much that you “think” you’re being clear when in fact you’re not.  Or it comes across as being self-centered.

Nonetheless, learning to write donor-centric copy for ALL your fundraising and marketing communications is worth every bit of effort you put into it.  Your nonprofit will enjoy higher response, more funds raised, and higher conversion rates with compelling donor-centric copy in your tweets and everywhere


*Charities and professional associations repeatedly engage Karen Zapp to write copy to help them achieve their missions.  An engineer-turned-copywriter, Karen’s inspired storytelling captures the passion of these missions.  And she conveys their stories so readers are motivated to respond at three levels: personally, emotionally, and intellectually. http://ZappNonprofitBlog.com