Donation Page Best Practices
Donation page best practices for nonprofits - tips and examples
A donation page is one of the most important elements of a nonprofit website and should be the primary focus of your online fundraising efforts. The ultimate objective of a donation page is to convert visitors into donors.
But, if a donation page is disorganized, difficult to navigate, overwhelming, or confusing, it defeats its own purpose.
Your website can accomplish a variety of goals, but your donation page should seek to accomplish only one - a steady stream of online donations.
Why do great donation pages matter?
1. Online donations are a must for every nonprofit:
Online giving is continuing to increase in popularity. In 2021, 12% of all giving was done online, and trends show continued growth. An online donation page probably shouldn’t be your only path to accepting donations, but it should be an important part of a holistic fundraising strategy.
2. Conversion rates can be a game-changer:
A conversion rate looks at the percentage of unique donation page visitors that complete the transaction.
If you get 1,000 visits to your online donation form and 1% convert into donors, you’ll have 10 donors. If you get 1,000 visits to your online donation form and 3% of them convert into donors, you’ll have 30 donors. That’s a growth that shouldn’t be disregarded.
The average conversion rate for a nonprofit’s main donation page is 15%. Pre-selecting monthly giving on your donation page can increase conversions of monthly donations by up to 35%. And, custom-branded donation pages on a nonprofit’s website help raise up to six times as much money on average. (Source)
3. Shareability & data tracking can revolutionize your fundraising:
Unlike many other forms of donating (via a phone call, mail, or at a fundraising event), donation pages are highly shareable. This makes them ideal for increasing your reach, and therefore the number of donations.
Furthermore, donation pages allow you to easily collect and track data that can inform your fundraising strategy (e.g. donation size, when the donation was made, who donated, how much, how they came to your website, etc.)
27 donation page best practices to inspire your online fundraising
Now you know why great donation pages matter so much for nonprofits. But how do you ensure that yours is as great as it can be? That's why we've put together a list of 27 best practices to help you create an engaging donation page.
But, before that, have a look at the below YouTube playlist, comprised of all the best practices videos specifically created by Donorbox to help nonprofits build a beautiful, effective donation page for their cause.
Pro Tip: Subscribe to the Donorbox YouTube channel for more best practices and pro tips, fundraising ideas, tutorials, educational webinars, and more!
1. Make sure your online donation page is easy to find
Regardless of how well-designed and functional your donation page for fundraising is, it won’t matter unless your donors can find it.
a. Ensure donation links/buttons stand out
A donor should be able to find your donation link within a couple of seconds of your website loading. A good practice is to place the link on the top navigation found in the website’s header. Highlight this Donate Now button/link by using a bright and eye-catching color scheme and you’ll increase the chances that supporters will get to your donation page.
b. The donation link should lead straight to the donation form
When a donor clicks the ‘Donate’ link/button, they should be immediately taken to the donation form. A common mistake is to insert a variety of other explanations or text in between those two stages. Although that usually comes out of a good intention (to inform donors of other ways to get involved or donate), any additional step lowers the conversion rate. Even registering or solving captchas before donating lowers the conversion rate.
c. Your call to action should be everywhere
In order for donors to find your donation page, calls to action should be included in any and every communication towards your target audience i.e. emails, social media posts, and videos. For nonprofits, calls to action are almost always donation asks, but they can also include selling event tickets, recruiting volunteers, signing up for a mailing list, and more.
2. Include a compelling 'why'
Not every visitor to your website visits with the intention to give. Most have to be persuaded. Having a brief, but enticing and compelling, “why” helps convince them.
Your donation page shouldn’t feel like purely a payment processing form.
Instead, your donation form should gently remind people why they’ve decided to give to your organization.
WHY DONATE TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL? We are a movement that produces extraordinary results. Since 1961, we’ve helped free over 50,000 people who have been unjustly imprisoned. Together, we’ve brought torturers to justice, we’ve exposed the truth about human rights violations, and we have made those in power change their ways. We work together for human rights for everyone, everywhere.
Dreams are universal. Opportunity is not. By giving as little as $25, you can help people around the world create opportunity for themselves and their communities.
3. Use fundraising software for your donation page
An online fundraising software tool like Donorbox will make constructing your own donation pages much easier and will provide you with a number of features and benefits, such as:
- Pre-filled custom amounts with descriptions to let your donors feel great about what they’re contributing to
- Integrated employer donation matching
- Recurring giving options, which can result in higher donor retention rates
- Optimization for desktop computers, mobile phones, and tablets
- Accepting donations on your Facebook page
- Donation ‘thermometer’ to encourage more donations
- PDF receipts
As well as several other features that will help you raise more money.
4. Customize your donation page
Building a brand takes time, work, and patience. And your donation page is an extension of your brand. Having your donation page branded and aligned with the rest of the website builds trust and credibility, and increases the likelihood that the visitor will convert into a donor. Consistent branding not only makes your donation page look better, but it also assures your donors that their donations are going to your organization, not just a random donation page.
Pro tip: Visually appealing donation pages are becoming increasingly important, especially to younger donors. 75% of young donors are turned off by out-of-date websites.
Let experts Cara and Bobbi-Jo tell you how to tweak your donation page design to create a great donation experience in this podcast episode:
When branding your donation page, there are a few customizations you must include:
- Pick a color to match your brand
- Place your logo
- Add a compelling background, potentially featuring a beneficiary
- Add a disclaimer to tell donors where their donation will be used
- Add your donation policy
- Add short descriptions of the impact different donation amounts will effect
- Add details for how donors can continue supporting you in different ways
Donorbox donation forms are easy to customize, helping you design a neat and appealing donation page.
5. Optimize your donation page
Your donation page should be mobile-friendly, also known as responsive. This means the donation page will resize according to the device being used, allowing for optimal viewing. Our smartphones are becoming an increasingly popular way to connect, share, access information, and donate, and we have started expecting optimized pages when donating.
In 2020, 49% of global online traffic was mobile internet traffic. And 98.7% of social media users accessed websites or apps through a mobile device.
By incorporating mobile-responsive page design, nonprofits can increase their donations by 126% on average. If a visitor becomes frustrated when attempting to make a donation to your organization via a mobile device, chances are good that they will leave your site without giving.
The growth in mobile giving has been rising since the increase in the number of smartphone users. To capitalize on mobile fundraising, read our comprehensive guide on mobile giving and stay on top of this trend.
6. Pre-select & display donation amounts
Your donation amounts should stand out on your donation page or form. It is generally recommended to provide your donors with several giving levels, allowing them to decide how much they are willing to give.
The vast majority of the top 100 nonprofits use an approach that includes four to five suggested donations paired with the option to enter a custom amount. Around half of these organizations highlight a default suggested value (usually the second or third option).
7. Suggest recurring donations
Donor retention rate is one of the most important metrics for a nonprofit. Recurring donors are incredibly valuable to nonprofits. Not only do they bring in consistent revenue, but gaining new relationships is always more costly than cultivating existing ones.
While there are numerous best practices for boosting donor retention rates, one of the easiest is to offer recurring donations as an option on your donation page.
When you offer recurring donations, you not only make it easier for donors to give again and again (boosting your retention rate), but, on average, donation amounts tend to increase.
Very few donors will log back on to donate every month, which is why automating the process makes all the difference. We also recommend offering lower suggested giving amounts than those for one-time donors, as donors are more likely to make a recurring gift at a lower amount, even if the total donation will be higher over time.
8. Offer varied payment options
Giving donors a variety of ways to make their donation is vital to enhancing the donor experience.
Outlining all of the payment options you accept will make online giving more convenient for your donors because they’ll be able to choose the option that’s the most suitable for them.
The more options you provide, the more donor preferences you’ll accommodate. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of them donating.
On your form, list all of the payment methods that your nonprofit can accept.
Donorbox donation forms let you accept donations via cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, low-fee ACH, SEPA bank transfers, and PayPal.
9. Keep it to one page
In order to keep the donor experience simple and straightforward, keep your donation form to a single page and make it short and sweet with as few required fields as possible.
The easier the process, the more likely a donor is to see it through to the end. If a one-page donation form isn’t possible, be transparent about how many pages there are.
10. Keep it simple and clear
Probably the most important tip out there, it emphasizes that your nonprofit’s focus should not only be on directing possible donors to your donation page, but also on providing them with a clear, simple, and exciting donor experience.
Your goal should always be that all those who have reached your donation page follow through and donate. To achieve this, keep your website simple and clear. Limit the amount of copy, images, media, and links to only what’s necessary, and organize your content in a way that feels very logical.
And, remember, every extra step is another chance for the donor to get distracted or second-guess their decision.
11. Answer the important questions
Address the most common questions from your donors on your donation page. You can achieve this by simply adding or linking your top FAQs to the page. FAQs help establish donor trust and present your nonprofit as an accountable organization. A simple explanation to address the most common questions, such as where will their gifts go and what information will appear on donation tax receipts, can go a long way in nudging any hesitant donor toward trusting your organization.
12. Include custom fields
Add fields to gather the information that will benefit your organization. On top of providing more options to your donor, this information can be used to qualify or categorize your donors.
For example, you can add questions to ask if your donor is interested in volunteering, how they found out about your organization, etc.
13. Provide multiple ways to get involved
Offer alternate ways for your donors to get involved, including by volunteering, donating gifts, helping raise funds via peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate giving, membership programs, or getting involved in your other initiatives. Make sure these options are laid out effectively for your donors on your donation page. You just might be surprised at how many of your supporters opt for alternate ways to contribute.
14. Embed the donation form on your website
You need to optimize your donation process so that your donor reaches the donation form as quickly as possible, with minimal clicks. That is why embedding your donation form within your website is an effective and recommended practice. This also helps establish the donor’s trust in your organization, which might be at risk if the donor is redirected to a third-party website.
15. Test different button text
After reading your donate button, your donor should get a clear idea that clicking it will submit the form and that their donation will be completed. For example, instead of ' a simple 'Donate', your donation button could read 'Make a Donation', 'Submit your Donation', 'Act Now', or 'Donate Now'.
16. Allow donors to cover processing fees
By allowing your donors to cover processing fees, you effectively increase the donation and your donor gets to contribute the exact amount they intend to donate to your cause. Donorbox’s donation form offers the option to let your donors choose to cover the processing fees.
We also suggest reading our in-depth guide on nonprofit donation processing. This will help you get acquainted with how donation processing works and how it can impact your organization.
17. Follow accessibility guidelines
Complying with web accessibility guidelines will ensure that your donation page is accessible to all, including people with disabilities or impairments. According to web accessibility guidelines, you must use high-contrast colors, add alt text to images, and clearly label photos without overlaying text on the photo, among several additional tips.
18. Make your nonprofit’s logo clearly visible on the banner
This assures the donor that they are giving to the right organization. The logo provides safety and security for visitors, so it is crucial that your nonprofit logo is placed in a highly visible location.
19. Pay attention to the title
Your donation page title - also known as a headline - should indicate the content of the page. Keep it short, engaging, and make sure your keywords are towards the beginning (for SEO purposes).
20. Menu or no menu?
A lot of nonprofits opt to include a menu/navigation bar in order to provide visitors with more information about their nonprofit, as well as other ways to get engaged. However, the menu can distract visitors and take them elsewhere on the website and away from completing that donation. Consider not including a menu on your donation page (although your logo could link to your homepage).
21. A picture is worth a thousand words
Humans are visual beings. Your donation page should include captivating images that are high-quality, powerful, and visually appealing. If you cannot use images of your beneficiaries, or need a few more, you can also use free stock photos to increase your visual appeal. Here are 90+ free stock photo and video sites your nonprofit can use.
22. Your URL should start with HTTPS.
Your nonprofit donation page URL should be short and compelling, as well as contain your main keyword. Very importantly, it should also start with https. The “s” at the end of the HTTP stands for SSL and allows all confidential information (e.g. credit card numbers) to be safely transmitted. Knowing their information is secure, visitors are more likely to donate.
23. Be mindful of the “fold”
This is the space your visitor sees without scrolling. All essential information - including the call to action and at least the beginning of the giving form - should be placed within this area. Nonessential information should be placed toward the bottom of the page. This way, the visitor doesn’t have to scroll down to search for crucial information (which can distract from donating).
24. Disclose how donations are used
63% of donors want to know how their money will be used by nonprofit organizations.
Clearly define what percentages of your organization’s donations go to research, treatment, education, administration, etc. Or, if you use giving levels, tie each donation amount to a tangible gift.
25. Have a “thank you” page
With so much focus on the donation page, many nonprofits forget to create a “thank you” page. This is the page the donor will be redirected to after making a donation. Thanking your donors is one of the most important elements of donor retention, and should not be skipped.
Pro Tip: You can also automate receipts, so donors will always be certain that you’ve received their gifts.
26. Offer a “share” option
Alongside the “thank you” page, it is vital that your nonprofit encourages donors to share the page on social media and invite their friends to donate, expanding your reach to a completely new audience.
27. Provide information on other ways to give
Including information about other ways to give will result in higher levels of donor engagement. Involving donors across multiple initiatives is also a powerful way to increase the donor retention rate.
This gives your donors choice and flexibility, which increases the chance of them getting involved. Just be careful about this not distracting from the main call to action - the ask to donate.