How Twitter Prepares You to Write Effective Fundraising Copy

If copywriting for political email has its roots in the more traditional “direct mail” world, copywriting for donation pages has its origins on Twitter.

In an email, you have space for storytelling. You can use complete sentences, build an idea, and take a user through a mental “ladder of engagement” in a single moment. 

On a donation page, you have, at best, a few sentences to tell your story. You must be concise. Punchy. Attention-grabbing.

Donor attention becomes even more limited on “upsell” pages, which are those follow-up requests for additional (or recurring) gifts after a donor completes their donation. Here, donors’ attention-span is minimal, and you have to make a tough sell in a concise window.

Short attention span? Limited copywriting? Hard sell? That sounds a lot like Twitter, to me.

Over the past week, I’ve been experimenting a lot with a Twitter-esque approach to upsells using WinRed, and I’ve been finding some success.

Screenshot: WinRed Recurring Donation Upsell
Screenshot: WinRed Recurring Donation Upsell

The above “upsell” shows to every non-recurring donor immediately after their initial donation is completed and urges them to make their commitment a monthly one.

The combination of the animated “celebration” gif, excessive text highlighting, and urgent language may feel like a bit much, but it works. When you only have a fraction of a second to grab the donor’s attention, it pays to be loud.

(Again, Twitter comes to mind.)

To date, this upsell is earning an approximately 7% conversion rate — meaning that for every 100 online donations the organization earns, an additional 7% commit to giving monthly as a result of the screenshot above.

That sort of results is impactful and compounds over time. And the copywriting style that drives it isn’t one you’ll learn in school: it’s one that you’ll only learn on a fleeting, punchy, attention-depraved platform like Twitter.