Lisa Habersack
by Lisa Habersack

Is Your Donation Form Helping or Hurting Your Conversions?

‍With the increasing popularity of crowdfunding sites and online fundraising campaigns, people are becoming more and more comfortable with making donations online. Plus, accepting donations online is likely less costly for your nonprofit in the long run with fewer paper mailers, less time spent cashing checks, and more automated data analysis.

But it’s not as simple as asking your website manager to add a donation page and making it possible for someone to donate. You need to make them want to donate, and your donation form itself has an important role to play.

What does your donation form need to do?

  • Reliably accept secure, private, virtual payments: This is often the box nonprofits check and then move on. But your donation form needs to do more than simply make it possible to accept payments.
  • Instill trust in the donor: Does your donation form look like a Hotmail page from 1995? Is there no privacy policy easily accessible? The donation page can give a user the feeling of security or apprehension in just one glance—first impressions are everything.
  • Make a final case for supporting your work: Have you ever filled up your online shopping cart just to later abandon it once you get to the checkout page? Don’t let this happen to your nonprofits’ donations! You’ll need to remind the donor one last time why their support is so important.
  • Encourage donor retention: Think of your donation form as the gateway for a new donor to your nonprofit. While a submitted donation is a job well-done for your organization, it’s also a job that’s just begun. The donation form will lay the groundwork for your long-term engagement with donors.
Improving Donations

1. They make donating simple for everyone.

  • They’re easy to find: Users shouldn’t have to go digging on your website to donate. By featuring your donate button prominently in your menu bar on each page, users are reminded that you’re actively seeking donations from individuals.
  • They take little time to complete: By adding multiple pages to complete with the requirement to click “next” in between, you increase the risk of the user getting distracted or otherwise disconnected with each page break. Try to keep your donation form short, simple, and all on one page.
  • They’re mobile responsive: We all know that more people than ever are shopping on their phones, and the behavior carries over to donations. That means if your donation page is not optimized for mobile use, you are missing out on support. No user has the patience to scroll side to side on a non-optimized page to make a donation. 

2. They help the donor feel confident with the transaction.

  • They are embedded on your site: If a user clicks the donate button on your site only to be whisked away to a totally different donation portal on a third party platform, they no longer feel as secure and you lose some of the trust factor they associate with your organization. That doesn’t mean you can’t use third party payment platforms, just be sure to take the extra step to embed the form on your donation page.
  • They have a privacy policy: Include legally-vetted information about the security and privacy of donations made on your website, including credit card details and other personal information.
  • They are transparent and honest: If you plan to collect donors’ emails (and you should!) be sure to let them opt-in to your organization’s emails rather than adding them to the list without warning.
  • They are professionally written and error free: The last thing you want to do on your donation form is appear unprofessional. An individual can decide at any moment to not follow through with their donation. Don’t give them any reasons to reconsider by leaving in spelling, grammar, or formatting mistakes. You don’t want to be seen as an organization that cuts corners.

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3. They tell the story of your work.

  • They remind the donor who and what their money will support: Sure, no one is clicking your donation page without knowing a bit about the work you do, but don’t take people’s familiarity for granted. If you are accepting general donations, include your mission statement or brief summary of your work. If you are fundraising for a particular program or capital project, make it clear on the donation page what the impact will be.
  • They feature imagery that connects: People want to feel like they are supporting real people. Don’t clutter your donation page, but do consider adding one photo of an individual (eye contact is ideal) to help donors feel the person-to-person connection that lies at the heart of their giving.
  • They give a sense of urgency: Encourage follow-through from the donor by making the case for why your organization needs their support now, not when they might think of it again at the end of the year.

4. They guide the user to make the most impactful donation.

  • They offer suggested donation amounts: Often people don’t know where to start when it comes to donations. Take away the confusion by offering suggested donation amounts at various levels. Effective donation pages will highlight a middle-range donation option to help people’s eyes go straight to it. (For example, the lowest option is $10, the highest is $500, and there is a $100 donation button with a green circle around it.) Those who planned to donate more will, and you may just convince someone to increase their donation to the highlighted amount.
  • They encourage monthly giving: Most nonprofits would agree that a smaller automated monthly contribution is more valuable than a larger one-time donation. Consider adding a pop-up to encourage the user to re-think their contribution once they input an amount. Be honest, and tell them why they should consider spreading their donation out over several months.

5. They prime the donor to become a long-term supporter.

  • They are designed to make giving fun and social: After a donor submits her donation, does she gets a simple blank “thank you” screen followed by a boring confirmation? Instead, provide a fun donation thank you page with an engaging photo of an individual affected by your work, and a bit of engaging storytelling or a quote from the featured beneficiary. Give users the option to share the news of their support for your organization with their family and friends through social media.
  • They balance the amount of personal info required: Remember, you want your form to be quick to complete, but you also want to collect key info to help you continue to engage with your supporters. A great balance is to provide spaces for donors to provide additional information (such as demographics, interest in volunteering, where they heard about you, etc.) but only make the most basic fields mandatory to complete.

Learn more about donor retention.

To review, a donation form that is customized for your organization and carefully planned rather than quickly adapted from a third party is more likely to convert into dollars for your nonprofit, as well as new supporters. But to turn those new supporters into loyal fans, you’ll need to invest in a long-term donor engagement strategy. Read on article on How to Retain Donors to learn even more!

Side note: Ever heard of Google's nonprofit program?

Did you know Google provides nonprofits with $10,000 per month in free advertising credit? This program is known as Google Grants and it's available to almost every 501c3 nonprofit organization. We've put together a free live one on one demo. All you have to do is click the button below.

Lisa Habersack

Lisa Habersack
Lisa is an award-winning social impact storyteller with 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. She helps nonprofits—ranging from start-ups to international development agencies—tell stories that inspire, engage, and connect. Learn more at www.lisahabersack.com.

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