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[ASK AN EXPERT] Should Our Donate Button Say "Donate"?

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Our Ask An Expert series features real questions answered by Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, our very own Fundraising Coach, also known as Charity Clairity.

Today’s question comes from a fundraiser who isn’t sure what online giving button label will get the most clicks.

Dear Charity Clairity,

I’m wondering… is there something better to put on our website’s donate button than the word “donate”? I remember seeing something about this somewhere, but I can’t find it. Can you help?


Dear Buttons,

You’re right. I’ve seen research too, but mostly it’s in the for-profit sector. The best way to know what works for you is to try it and, ideally, test it.

My huge preference is GIVE. Giving is something people do all the time.  We’re comfortable with giving, and it brings us joy. We give to our kids, our parents, our partners, our friends, our colleagues and our community.  And they give to us.  Just like you give an intangible ‘feel good’ back to your donors. A warm glow, so to speak. Gifts keep on giving.

I also like INVEST. Investments yield a positive social return. Investments yield an opportunity for positive relationship building. When you make a personal financial investment you expect to get reports back, right? What a wonderful entrée for you to report back to your donors on the impact of their philanthropy!

Anything implying what the donor is giving is small is a bit of a turn-off. You want donors to feel uplifted by their giving.  This is why I don’t love “donate’ or “contribute” as it implies you are not the hero, but your payment towards a larger sum will help. It will ‘contribute.’

Whatever your motivation for asking the equivalent of “could you give a little something” or “Any little bit would be helpful,” you’re not doing your donor a service. It makes them think their gift is just a drop in the bucket. You won’t get their most passionate commitment, nor will you likely retain them or upgrade them.

The difference is subtle, but… look for the word you believe will make your donor feel TERRIFIC.

When you lift your donors up they’ll lift you up as well. Don’t bring them down by using words implying token giving or merely fulfilling an obligation. Inspire them. We give freely to those we love.  We invest in those we love. We don’t ‘donate’ to them.

You can also use a phrase to convey urgency, such as “Give Now” or “Invest Today.”  Experiment by testing one word or phrase against another. Remember to change only one variable so you get a meaningful result. Check herehere and here for ideas to get your A/B testing juices flowing.

Charity Clairity

Have a question for our Fundraising Coach?

Please submit your question here. Remember, there are no stupid questions! If you need an answer, it’s likely someone else does too. So help your colleagues by asking away. Please use a pseudonym, like “Buttons” did, if you prefer to be anonymous.

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  • Jason

    Interesting question. And I like your suggestions for Give and Invest. I may try one of these on our new site.
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