You have a Give form for fundraising. But is it working? There are some tips and tricks for fundraising that you can take advantage of — namely, urgency.

Urgency is a powerful psychological motivator. It’s the brilliance behind door buster sales, crowdfunding campaigns, and matinee rates at the theater. Effectively using urgency can also help you raise more money online. This article will give you a rundown of 5 ways you can boost donation numbers using urgency.

As nonprofits, the need for funding is always urgent: you have budgets to meet, expenses, and deadlines built into your life. Unfortunately, even the most on-board and well-intentioned donors simply don’t have the same sense of urgency to donate to your cause. It’s not laziness or malice. There are dozens of other things competing for their interest (and their wallet).

The delicate balance of adding that sense of urgency without becoming a late-night infomercial “ACT NOW” huckster is important to grasp. You want to use subtle cues to help the donor feel some urgency. Here’s a list of ways you can help increase urgency for your donors.


Have you ever been to a sporting event or concert where a section of the crowd erupts into cheers for seemingly no reason, only to find out that someone was waving a t-shirt gun around, offering a free shirt to the loudest fan?

These people who were otherwise perfectly happy to be sitting quietly begin collectively losing their mind over a free $4 t-shirt.

Here’s the secret: it’s not the shirt. It’s the scarcity of the shirt.

This principle can be applied to your donors.

What if you create ten different forms which are set to close upon completion of a small goal, and offer rewards based on which form the donor gives to? First come, first served means that if they miss out, they miss out.

Are you closing your goals without using urgency?
Are you closing your goals without using urgency?


Know those games at a carnival where you try to shoot a stream of water at a target, making your character move across the racecourse or up a ladder? The draw there is not the $.01 trinket toy you get for being a winner, it’s the feeling of winning (or backing the winner).

Image used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Image used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Everyone likes a good competition. “Let’s see if Tameka can raise more money than John” is a great tactic to spur your donors into giving.

And just like at the County Fair, there’s a winner every time: your organization.

You can combine scarcity with competition, too: “The first participant to raise $10,000 gets a badge to proudly display on their blog.”

Within Give, this is as simple as creating forms for each participant. You can put all of those forms on the same page using the shortcode method or even using category or tag archives and have them go head-to-head!


This one can be a little trickier to avoid sounding like a huckster, but language is important. Note the difference between these two sentences:

Your donation helps people like John get back on their feet.

Your donation today helps people like John get back on his feet, immediately.

It’s a simple tweak to the language. The difference between “Donate” and “Donate Now” can often be instrumental.

Other words to sprinkle into the donation appeal:

  • Now
  • Soon
  • Ends
  • Close
  • Approaching
  • Urgent
  • Hurry

Think of these vocabulary words like table salt: a little bit goes a long way, but once you add too much it leaves a bad taste in donors’ mouths.


In the nonprofit I worked for out of college, we had to raise all of our salary, benefits, and other expenses. We had tabulated out the exact amount needed to hit our initial goal so that we could report to our job assignment. I had been working toward that goal for months and was meeting with a potential donor to challenge them to give.

His first question, after I had convinced him of the need for the work we were doing, was “how much do you need to hit your goal?”

I replied “I need $1,000 more to reach my goal.”

He smiled and said “That’s a little more than I was planning on, but I can do that.”

The power of me reaching my goal turned what might have been $500 into $1,000 on the spot. Donors want you to reach goals.

Donors want to help you reach your goals.
Donors want to help you reach your goals.

Give has a built in Goal feature. Donors love to see that progress bar fill up. Often a donor will even give more than they are planning to, just to “finish you off.”

Set a Time Limit

Did you see our Countdown Timer Free Add-on?
Did you see our Countdown Timer Free Add-on?

If the opportunity to give to your cause runs out at a certain hour on a certain day, that psychologically motivates donors to Give.

Donors don’t want to miss out. This is especially true for events like the end of the tax year, or the fiscal year, or a special fundraising event.

Any time you can leverage a countdown on a form, you are likely to see an increase in donations the closer you get to the time limit.

We recently released a free add-on for Give that enables a countdown timer for the top of your donation form.

Watching the clock tick down to zero can have a major effect on your donors.

To read more about that new add-on and learn how to use it on your site, check out the overview post.

Your donors want to give to your cause. Subtle and effective use of urgency can go a long way toward making them give today.

Ben Meredith

Ben Meredith is our Senior Support Technician at Give. He's also the founder of The WP Steward and the author of the popular Better Click To Tweet Plugin.

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