Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes now fully rely on the internet as a staple in their fundraising efforts and it’s becoming quite the competitive playing field.
From creating an intensive social media strategy to automating solicitation communications, standing out in the digital sphere is growing more involved by the day. However, did you know that you can stand apart from your online competition by merely optimizing an existing platform in your nonprofit’s digital toolbox?
We are referring to your online donation page and with the following tips you’ll stand out in the crowd in no time:
1. Make the page easy to find
2. Ensure the page looks attractive
3. Write copy that tells a story
4. Keep all important information above the fold
5. Don’t forget to optimize
6. Embed tools for supporters to amplify their gifts
7. Make recurring giving easy
8. Nail down your payment processing
9. Ask for feedback after your visitor or donor has taken an action
Before diving into the tips, check out Donately’s guide to donation page best practices for a primer on how to make your giving page shine. With that, let’s dive in!
1. Make the Page Easy to Find
The eight steps following this one are moot if supporters can’t find your donation page to begin with. Across your website, include a few elements pointing directly to your giving page:
• Eye-catching call-to-action (CTA) buttons at the top and bottom of popular pages, such as blog posts and informational content
• Brightly-colored “Donate Now” buttons prominently displayed across the website
• A direct link to your donation page in your main navigation bar
• A “Ways to Give’ page that points back to your donation page
Link back to your donation page from the other platforms you’re using to communicate with donors. This might include email newsletters, donor text messaging, and even the various social media platforms you use to engage supporters.
2. Ensure the Page Looks Attractive
Choose an online donation tool that’s fully customizable to ensure you’re providing a familiar and comfortable giving experience for supporters who visit your donation page.
First and foremost, maintain your organization’s familiar branding on the donation page — don’t direct donors to an unfamiliar, third-party site to make their gift. This means using the same color scheme and logo across your digital tools and outlets, so supporters can trust that the donation they’re making is going to the exact nonprofit they’ve chosen.
Use images intermittently across the page to build the interest of your visitor and keep them on the page. Avoid using stock images; instead, put a face to your work. Tell a story with images, just as you’re about to learn to do with text.
3. Write Copy That Tells a Story
More than ever, donors are citing compelling appeals and tangible impact — rather than a sizable tax deduction — as their primary driver for charitable giving.
When making a donation appeal to supporters, you may consider email newsletters, social media posts and any other communication methods you regularly use for outreach. However, did you know that making a strong appeal on your online donation page is just as important? Tell a story on your donation page to ensure those potential donors — directed to the page via emails, newsletters or social media — make it across the giving finish line.
Tell the story of your nonprofit and the cause you’re working for. Explain how your organization uses the donations you receive concisely and in detail, on your donation page. Do so in a way that’s urgent, but don’t guilt. For example:
“The winter season is especially rough on our community’s homeless population, with temperatures dropping to X degrees. At CommunitiesForGood, we’re combatting this issue one care package at a time. Make a gift of $15 today to fund one community member’s care package today.”
This example covers one specific problem, conveying its urgency and how a donor can help right now. If your organization isn’t raising funds for a specific initiative, frame this in a more general manner covering the work your organization does overall.
Can your nonprofit’s mission be summed up in a way that’s concise, compelling and detailed? Include that statement on your donation page.
4. Keep All Important Information Above the Fold
Once upon a time, when newspapers were still in regular circulation, it was a huge deal for a writer’s story to be printed above the fold. This is the portion of the front page of the newspaper that’s visible before it’s unfolded and is the most read part of the paper, featuring the most important story of the day.
This phenomenon also applies to web pages, with above the fold referring to the portion of your web page that’s visible before scrolling. Ensure the essential information on your giving page is visible in this section. Even if a supporter doesn’t scroll at all, they should have all the information they need to give to your cause.
This information must include the compelling story from the last section, as well as all donation form fields necessary for your organization to process a gift. You can accomplish this by keeping your form simple and only asking for what you need — not asking supporters to fill in every section of your donor database.
5. Don’t Forget to Optimize
You could have an effective outreach strategy, create compelling content and display all information clearly, but your giving page will still deter donors if its technical aspects aren’t in order.
Ensure your page is easy to navigate, regardless of the type of technology or device your donor uses to visit your website. Consider the following:
• Optimize your donation page for both mobile and desktop use, so the information can be viewed and forms easily completed no matter the device the donor is using
• Make sure your giving form is tab-friendly so supporters can navigate between fields by simply hitting the “tab” button on their keyboard
• Ensure a fast page load time by resizing oversized images and fixing cluttered code
Long wait times and clunky navigation are a deterrent for even the most patient of supporters. Optimize your page for basic navigation best-practices so no donor has to postpone their generosity.
6. Embed Tools for Supporters to Amplify Their Gifts
Did you know you can receive two gifts for the price of soliciting one, with no extra contribution on behalf of your supporter?
Corporate matching gift programs are an incredible opportunity to amplify the gifts of your donors. Through these programs, an employer pledges to make a donation matching that made by their employee to an approved nonprofit. However, this is only possible if both your organization and your donors are aware of the opportunity!
Luckily, there are tools to help your organization and supporters discover these opportunities. Consider embedding a searchable matching gift database directly on your donation page so donors can search their eligibility.
Not only will this inform you and donors of existing opportunities, but it might even encourage supporters to give more if their initial gift falls just under the match requirements. Learn more about matching gift programs through Double the Donation’s guide.
7. Make Recurring Giving Easy
Nonprofits often spend the major giving seasons (such as the year-end giving season) stocking up on one-time donations to fuel them through the rest of the year. Meticulous planning is required to make those gifts last for the long-haul and it can be a major source of stress for any nonprofit.
Recurring gifts remove some of the stress of meticulous saving. There are a few ways to encourage donors to make this type of donation rather than a one-time gift:
• Make the recurring gift option clear by prominently displaying it on your giving page.
• Allow supporters to make changes to their recurring giving processes at their own discretion (payment type, gift amount or gift frequency)
• Thank donors after every gift, one-time or regular — consider automating these communications rather than adding to your staff’s heavy workload
According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, only 14 percent of organizations prompt supporters during the one-time donation process to consider upgrading to a recurring gift. Don’t fall into the other 86 percent and make sure to encourage recurring gifts whenever possible, starting with your donation page.
8. Nail Down Your Payment Processing
It’s vital that your nonprofit payment processing procedures are secured and function in a trustworthy and convenient manner.
Let’s break this down further. Nonprofit donation processing is what allows your organization to accept digital gifts of any kind; the entire functionality of your donation page relies on it.
It’s important to research payment processing before investing in a donation platform. Pay attention to a few key characteristics:
• Security: PCI-compliance is essential for handling any of your donors’ digital financial information in a secure and responsible way
• Payment Method: The ability to accept multiple payment types, including debit or credit cards and ACH/direct deposit payments, ensures no donor is deterred due to payment method
• Integrations: Connections between your donation platform and popular payment processors create a trustworthy giving experience for donors
You’re unlikely to be able to adjust your donation processing procedures after choosing your online donation platform. That is, unless you migrate to another platform, which is a hassle. Make sure payment processing is kept front-of-mind when you first build your donation page.
9. Ask for Feedback After Your Visitor or Donor Has Taken an Action
Make your donation page stand out to supporters by showing them you care about their experience and are committed to improving.
After a donor submits a gift, direct them to a landing page:
- Thanking them for making a gift
- Inviting feedback
Whether this is a quick survey or an open-ended response opportunity, create space for supporters to tell you what worked and what didn’t. Was your page overwhelming with too much information, or perfectly balanced? Was it confusing to navigate or clearly laid out?
Also include an option for donors to submit their email addresses to request further updates and information on your organization’s work. Allowing them to clearly opt-in (or not) shows you respect their preferences and decreases the likelihood of your donors unsubscribing in the future. Store these website-collected leads, as well as all donation information, in your main donor database, your constituent relationship management (CRM) system.
Sending information from your donation page to your CRM allows you to glean valuable insights, like the giving methods your supporters prefer to the most common gift amount across your donor base. Learn more about what to look for in a donor database, before investing or upgrading your current systems, when you download this guide.