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How the AIDA framework helps fundraisers make an impact


The AIDA framework is a classic model used in marketing and copywriting to guide the creation of effective messaging.


AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. But we’ve tweaked it slightly to suit fundraisers.


Attention

Grab the reader’s attention with a compelling headline or opening statement that resonates with their interests or concerns related to your cause. This could be a statistic, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful image.


Interest

Once you have their attention, maintain their interest in some way, such as by highlighting the importance and relevance of your cause. Share compelling stories, facts or testimonials that evoke emotions and demonstrate the impact of your work.


Drive (the artist formally known as ‘Desire’)

This is where we’ve tweaked the age-old framework. This concept is a shift from the traditional ‘Desire’ that formed part of the original AIDA framework for advertisers. Instead of making a potential customer ‘desire’ your product, we suggest this is where you tap into what ‘drives your audience’. Understand their motivations, values, and aspirations, and tailor your messaging to align with them.

This element can be established before, during or after you’ve created messaging as a tool to help you develop and analyse content. By understanding what drives your audience, you can craft messaging that resonates on a deeper level and encourages them to support your cause.


Action

Finally, provide a clear call to action that prompts the reader to take the next step, whether it's donating, signing up for a newsletter, or volunteering. Make it easy for them to act by providing clear instructions and removing any barriers to participation. There can be many ‘actions’ across a single piece of messaging. In fact, you can think of all of your content as a pathway towards specific actions – every word part of signposting the way to making a difference.


Let’s go through each one in more detail to discover how to incorporate them into your messaging approach every day.


Grabbing your reader’s attention


So, you’ve got a donation page for your organisation. What’s the first thing someone sees when they land on a page?


It’s all too common to see a single word as the page heading: “Donate”. Or maybe a “Donate now”, “Donate today”, “Your donation makes a difference”.


That last one is starting to incorporate the element of “Attention”, but it’s got a long way to go. “Donate” might be great for SEO, but it isn’t doing much to grab attention and encourage understanding and action.


There are many ways to grab attention in fundraising communications – but they all depend on the context, your organisation’s TOV and your audience’s drive.


Consider some of the following approaches for the donation page of this fictitious organisation, GreenStreets.


“GreenStreets runs solely on donations” – this heading communicates a number of things. It emphasises the importance of a donation in the work of the organisation, which can’t go to other sources of funding. This heading begins to tell a story, where messaging can continue to build out an understanding of how GreenStreets operates and how donations play such an important role.


“Help us cool our city streets” – touching on the type of work this organisation does, this heading leans on an outcome-based approach to its message. If someone lands on this page first, it plays both roles of prompting action as well as beginning to explain the work GreenStreets does.


“Donations have helped us plant 8,793 trees so far” – with an interactive element showcasing the growing number of trees, this messaging approach grabs attention with the use of concrete numbers and links it to the action of donating.


Whatever your approach, always ask yourself if you’re grabbing the reader’s attention. If not, why not? If you are, can you do better?



Kiva website banner

Check out the banner copy for kiva.org. It does an incredible job of grabbing your attention and succinctly explaining the underlying issue Kiva looks to solve. It brings the reader in (we all have dreams), but points to the problem that not everyone can bring these dreams to life.


Maintaining interest in your message


This element of AIDA is where a lot of the work can take place, and it often gets missed by writers.


Every decision you make in building out a webpage, press release, letter, newsletter, email – you name it – should be dictated by how you are maintaining interest for the reader and where that interest will take them.


Let’s take one of those attention-grabbing headlines above for GreenStreets as a jumping-off point. We grab their attention by saying, “Donations have helped us plant 8,793 trees so far”. Now we know we want to maintain their interest, what’s the most important thing we want to say next?


Understanding the importance of maintaining and directing interest will help you create a hierarchy of messaging. Is the most important fact that the trees GreenStreets plants are all sourced from local suppliers? Maybe not. That fact might be third on the hierarchy of importance. Our heading points to the scale of change that donations have helped create, so we might elaborate on that scale next and show what impact it has.


Donations have helped us plant 8,793 trees so far

Your help can impact life across Australia


Donations to GreenStreets power our work. In core project areas across the country, collective action has helped us reduce urban temperatures by an average 10°C in peak summer. This means improved health outcomes for local residents, greater biodiversity and stronger environmental resistance to the impacts of climate change.



See how pursuing a goal in messaging can help shape the direction of content? A natural hierarchy organically emerges once you understand your goals and prioritise messaging based on these.


What’s driving your audience?


Because fundraising is about more than a transaction, we turned a 100-year-old marketing framework inside out and ditched one element for another.

We swapped 'Desire' for 'Drive' in the AIDA framework. Why? Because fundraising copy needs a strong understanding of your audience.


While the first two elements of AIDA, ‘Attention’ and ‘Interest’, can be considered as standalone decisions to make when structuring and creating content, ‘Drive’ and ‘Action’ can instead be thought of as two constant guides to your content creation.


Understanding and tapping into your audience’s drive can take place at many stages of content development. When planning, it’s an obvious step to start defining the factors that are driving an audience’s interaction with your messaging. But as you progress in any piece of comms, looking at this element of ‘drive’ can be a great measuring stick for refining approaches.


Take the below page from MS Plus as an example. For non-profit organisations that work in the health space, the drive of their audience can shift based on context, and understanding this context is vital for providing necessary support to audiences. MS Plus does a great job of reassuring a visitor, understanding they may be in a heightened state of alarm or fear after getting a medical diagnosis of MS.


MS Plus landing page banner

Whatever stage of a project you’re in, from planning a campaign through to getting stakeholder approvals and input, rely on your understanding of your audience’s ‘drive’ to direct your decisions. Every interaction a user has with your content and its design and layout should reflect their needs, desires and emotional context.


Finally, create clear and simple pathways to action


Just as it can help to plan and measure your content based on an understanding of your audience’s ‘drive’, it’s equally valuable to consider what journeys you are creating in your content. These journeys are action points for your audience. This might be linking to both internal and external webpages, digital products and more. Or it might just be what options you give people to interact with your content on the page. Every decision you allow your audience to make is a journey they can embark upon, requiring them to act.


So, in a real-life example, let’s take a donation page for your non-profit organisation. These are often considered key action areas, as many organisations rely on these pages, especially during specific campaigns throughout the year.


The fictional donation page should be designed to make the donation process as simple and straightforward as possible. This includes having a clear and prominent donation button, options to choose donation amounts or set custom amounts, and even a quick selection tool for recurring donations. Additionally, providing clear information about the benefits of donating can further encourage action.



MS Plus landing page banner

With all this in mind, consider Movember's donation page above. It does a great. job of clearly explaining where donations go in a warm and inviting tone. The experience of donating is also easy, making it simple to 'act'.


Get a thorough understanding of writing for fundraising


At Avion, we're passionate about helping fundraisers sharpen their writing and content strategy skills. Alongside the Fundraising Institute of Australia, we run regular Copywriting Essentials sessions in the year. Join up and learn how. to apply AIDA and other copywriting principles to your work every day.



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