We’ve talked at great length about the principles of good fundraising, from timing your appeal right to telling great fundraising stories. This advice will have a significant impact on your fundraising.

Unfortunately, we often overlook one sentence in your appeal or on your landing page: your call-to-action.

In a mail appeal, it’s on the reply device. In digital, it’s the call-to-action above the give matrix. This simple sentence tells a story.

You can either tell a story of the donor or the nonprofit taking action.

Why is the call-to-action (CTA) so important? First and foremost, it tells the reader what you want them to do. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many appeals forget to include a CTA altogether. Without a CTA, readers are left guessing as to how they can help. Even worse, they may assume that there’s nothing they can do and move on.

Secondly, the CTA is your opportunity to make a case for why the reader should take the desired action. In essence, it’s your chance to close the deal and get them to say yes. This is where you’ll want to include reasons why their donation is important and how it will be used. For example, if you’re raising money for a new community center, you might mention how the center will benefit local families by providing a safe place for kids to play and adults to exercise.

CTAs are important because they help guide your donor towards taking action. Without a CTA, your donor may not know how or where to donate, which could result in them not donating at all. Furthermore, an effective CTA can help increase the average donation amount, as donors who are given specific instructions on how to donate are more likely to do so than those who aren’t. Additionally, well-placed CTAs can also help improve conversion rates—that is, the percentage of people who take action after seeing your appeal.

The best call-to-action is donor oriented:

Yes, I will join Compassionate Heart Ministries to end hunger in Minneapolis with my generous gift.

Here’s how you might write that from the perspective of the nonprofit:

Donate today so Compassionate Heart Ministries can provide food and emergency support to end hunger in Minneapolis.

Both are good calls-to-action, but the first tells a story the donor can see in their mind about what will happen when they give to end hunger in Minneapolis.

When a donor can see themselves as a part of the solution, they’re more likely to give.

As you can see, the call to action is an essential part of any fundraising appeal. By including a strong CTA, you’ll increase your chances of getting the reader to take action and support your cause. So next time you sit down to write an appeal, don’t forget the most important part!