You need to entice scanners to become readers. And you need to entice readers to take action. In short, that’s your job when you write for the web and also how your nonprofit can persuade like Apple on the web. Now I often rant on organizations who sell their story as a product, often comes out boring, instead of telling their story to inspire action, what fundraising is about. But yesterday I read a fantastic article on KISS Metrics titled 7 Lessons Apple Can Teach Us About Persuasive Web Content that had a lot of great tips for nonprofits when writing for the web. Based on that, here are…


1. People don’t read, they scan. 

You know this. You are probably scanning right now. For better or worse we scan pages looking for what content is on the page and then we decide if we want to read further or not. Use headlines that summarize sections and subheadings that explain a bit further. Put the main point of the paragraph right away in the paragraph. Try to communicate the main ideas as simply, early and big as you can.

2. Great web copy takes work.

If you think it’s easy to pull out the main idea on all your content your wrong. If you think it’s easy write with a professional style that engages and entices your wrong. Do you value the copy you and your organization writes? Or is it just an afterthought? As great as videos are to share and show your story, as powerful as images are and as trendy as infographics are there is still no substitute for the written word when it comes to the web and your website. Invest in your writing. Take time to get better at it. Take time to actually write it. It’s often the difference between and engaged reader and a bounced reader.

3. Design doesn’t convert, it showcases.

Beautiful design and images make words more powerful but words still have to the main talking of what people can do and how they should do it. Don’t write all the copy and find a picture that works. Don’t lay out your page with beautiful white space and then write copy that “fits”. Make the two, visual and copy, work in harmony with one another.

4. Words aren’t enough.

Have you been to a website that only has words and copy? A page might work if it’s really well done or the content is fantastic but try page after page of nothing but words. It sucks. Especially with nonprofits who often have such great people and stories that they can show off in images that strengthen and further evoke emotion out of the copy. Use words and use them well but use more than words.

5. Help your readers, not yourself.

Your readers are busy. They are scanning. They are looking for some help. So help them. Tell them straight away what the page, section and paragraph are about. Don’t bait and switch them. Don’t waste their time. Determine what you are wanting to communicate and communicate it well and quickly.

6. Know the objections against your organization and combat them.

Ignoring the reasons why people are hesitant to give or get involved with your organization doesn’t help you in the long run. Do you work internationally? Why should they give to you when there are people to help in their own neighbourhoods? You know that’s an issue (or you do now) so combat it when you can. Are you a faith-based organization? How does that influence your work and do you discriminate at all because of it? That’s an issue. Write to combat it head on. Know the objections and combat them.

7. Know the specific action you want people to take and write for it.

Wanting people to donate from your board of directors page might be a bit of a hard sell but figure out what the next step is, if it’s not donate. Is it to learn more about your strategy to show how innovative you are? More about your history to show how trustworthy you are? You can have share buttons, donate buttons and email sign up buttons on every page (and you should) but writing for a specific action is different. Determine what you want people to do and then write in a way that can get them there.

There are many more things we can learn to persuade from Apple so check out the full article on KISS Metrics. Then get to work on those web pages!