The following is an excerpt from Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits and a follow-up to 5 Online Communication Styles for Nonprofits.

From print to email communications, but especially on mobile and social media, there are content themes guaranteed to inspire a reaction on the part your donors and supporters. Mastering the art of telling a success story, creating a sense of urgency, tapping into the power of statistics and quotes, and using a sense of humor takes time to perfect, but once mastered, has a transformational effect upon your online communications and fundraising campaigns. By consistently applying these themes in your content strategy, little actions (a retweet) become bigger actions (signing an online petition) that become larger actions (making a donation) and when many little, big, and large actions reach critical mass, you have synergy and fundraising success at your fingertips.

1. Success

Donors and supporters want to read, see, and hear the progress you are making in achieving your mission and programs. Increasingly results driven, donors want to know that their donations are producing tangible results. Consistently providing donors and supporters progress reports is crucial to maintain their commitment to your organization. Even if your nonprofit works on depressing issues such as war or domestic violence and there is little progress to be reported, there are always stories within your community that can be framed to showcase success. Positivity always trumps negativity on social networks. Your donors and supporters like, retweet, +1, and repin positive stories over negative or depressing news stories on a ratio of 5 to 1. People hear enough depressing news from the media. They don’t want it from nonprofits.

2. Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is a long-utilized theme in online communications and fundraising. When a donor or supporter knows that there is a fast-approaching deadline and a limited time frame within which they can take action, they are much more likely to take action. It’s why donors give generously during times of crisis. The funds are needed now, not next month or next year. Whether it’s fundraising or advocacy, nonprofits that can frame stories that tap into the human impulse to take action in times of crisis have high success rates in their fundraising campaigns. Creating a sense of urgency also works well on mobile and social media. After positivity, the content with the most virality on social networks are those that tap into breaking news and current affairs.

3. Statistics

Incorporating the use of statistics into your annual content strategy is a must. Each year create a page on your website or blog that lists ten or more powerful stats that communicate the importance of the cause(s) your nonprofit advocates for. Then throughout the year post one stat once a week on your social networks with a link to the stats page. Not only will those become your most retweeted tweets and shared status updates, but the page itself will become one your most visited. It’s an anomaly to the rule of positivity. Powerful and shocking, and sometimes frightening, stats create a seemingly instantaneous reaction to take action. Your donors and supporters can easily digest 10-20 words, but may not take the time to read your 500-word blog post. Also, if your nonprofit has photo-editing skills, embedding the stats on images and then uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – that works even better.


A quick Google or Bing search reveals an unlimited number of inspirational quotes on wide variety of causes spoken by current and historical thought leaders worldwide that can be utilized by your nonprofit. For mobile and social media, posting those quotes as text or as images always garners a reaction and stimulates interaction and engagement. It’s a tried and true tactic, and some would say a tired and true tactic, but as long as quotes aren’t overused to the point where your followers realize it is a tactic, nonprofits should embrace using inspirational quotes at least once a week in their content strategy. For fundraising content, quotes from donors or communities served are powerful and if your nonprofit has well-spoken executive or program staff, building your nonprofit’s brand by quoting their wisdom and wit is also a smart use of quotes.

5. Humor

The most challenging of all and not always appropriate, the effective use humor can increase online action and engagement. It’s a rare skill that requires creativity and a good dose of sarcasm, and when done wrong, can be controversial or at the very least found to be in bad taste. But when done right, humorous content can become wildly popular. Humor is also the foundation of the phenomenon of Kawaii, a Japanese word meaning “cute.” Scientifically proven to narrow focus and trigger positive emotions and reactions, an explosion of nonprofits advocating for a wide variety causes now find themselves tweeting, pinning, sharing, and blogging cute kitten and baby animal photos and almost always with exceptional results. The act of uploading the files themselves is even beneficial in that viewing kitten and baby animal photos has also been proven to make workers more productive.

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

mobile for good look insideBased on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.