An easy-to-use, accessible, mobile-friendly online donation page is crucial for modern nonprofits. Research by the Blackbaud Institute shows that 12% of total fundraising comes from online sources. And, their studies have revealed a 42% increase in online giving over the past three years.
Your online donation page is your virtual fundraising hub, providing donors with a way to support your cause from anywhere, at any time. When your online donation process is easy to use for both staff members and donors, you can simplify the giving process on all sides.
In this guide, we’ll cover 20 best practices to help you create an effective online donation page that drives more online fundraising revenue for your nonprofit. These best practices fall into the following categories:
- Optimizing your donation page design
- Maximizing online donations
- Creating a secure donation process
- Stewarding your donors throughout the donation process
- Promoting your nonprofit donation form
Feel free to jump to a certain section if you’re looking for specific advice, or read through the full post. Let’s get started.
Optimizing your donation page design
This section offers best practices for designing and structuring your online giving form.
1. Choose the right online fundraising platform.
A robust nonprofit fundraising platform makes it easy to create and promote your online giving form. These platforms take the guesswork out of donation page design by offering tried-and-tested templates that still allow you to fully customize your page to your organization. Plus, they offer a variety of features for stewarding donors after they contribute using your online donation page.
Powerful online giving platforms like Bloomerang enable you to optimize your online donation process with:
- Dynamic, responsive donation buttons to include throughout your website
- Customized online giving forms for general fundraising and specific campaigns
- Ticketing and event tools that empower attendees to make one-time or recurring donations while registering for events
- A robust donor portal where supporters can review their donation history, update their credit card information, and manage their recurring gifts
- Peer-to-peer and crowdfunding tools that put supporters in the fundraising driver’s seat
If you’re interested in upgrading your online donation platform, think strategically about your options. Read reviews and testimonials and ask similar organizations for recommendations. Create a shortlist and request demos for your top options.
2. Include a compelling reason to give.
Just because someone clicks through to your online donation page doesn’t mean you’ve secured their donation yet. Use your donation page to remind prospective donors why you’re fundraising and what your goal is. Include a brief description of your fundraising purpose at the top of the page and a compelling image that highlights your mission.
For example, the ASPCA’s donation form includes a succinct description of the ASPCA’s mission to end animal abuse and neglect. It describes how donors’ gifts can help support that mission and make a difference for animals in need. Plus, it includes a carousel of suggested donation amounts with photos of different animals that the organization has helped.
This powerful combination of text and images sparks compassion and empathy in donors, encouraging them to follow through with their intention to give.
3. Describe how donations make an impact.
Connect specific donation amounts to different impacts that donors can make. This helps donors visualize how their donations actually make a difference. Plus, donors may feel encouraged to give more when they see the additional benefits they can bring to your organization’s work with a higher donation amount.
Take a look at a real-world example of this on the Nashville Food Project’s online donation form. The form lists four suggested donation amounts and how the organization uses those gifts:
- $25 buys food and supplies for 25 healthy, scratch-made meals.
- $50 buys seeds and compost for a full growing season for one community gardener.
- $300 fuels their meal delivery vehicles for a month.
- $2,000 provides interpretation, tools, seeds, and supplies for a growing season for one local farmer.
These examples are powerful because they’re specific and descriptive. The donation page tells donors exactly how their support will fuel the organization’s mission and also provides an opportunity to review community impact reports to learn more about how donations are used.
4. Brand the donation page to your organization.
Your nonprofit likely put a significant amount of time and effort into developing your branding strategy. You chose your logo, colors, and fonts deliberately to reflect your organization’s mission and values. Then, you incorporated your branding throughout your marketing materials, such as your website, social media, and direct mail.
Similarly, your online donation page should also be fully branded to your organization, using your nonprofit’s:
A branded donation page reassures donors that they’re giving to your organization. Plus, it helps spread brand awareness and recognition.
5. Only ask for necessary information.
A long donation form can deter supporters from actually completing their donations. Keeping your donation form simple and short allows donors to fill out the form as quickly and easily as possible.
Only ask for necessary information such as:
- Donation amount
- Contact information (to follow up later and thank donors for their gifts)
- Payment details
This information is all you will need to process donors’ gifts and connect with them later to show appreciation and offer more ways to engage with your organization.
6. Make your donation form mobile responsive.
Mobile users make up a growing number of online donation transactions, meaning your online donation page must be mobile-friendly to reach their audience segment.
Look at your donation form in the mobile view to ensure there aren’t any formatting errors that could disrupt the mobile experience. Ask these questions as you review the page:
- Are the images clear and fully visible on the page?
- Is the text large enough to be read easily on mobile devices?
- Are the form fields easy to click on in the mobile view?
- Does the page load quickly (in three seconds or less)?
If you answered no to any of these questions, review and edit your donation page in the mobile view of your content management system.
7. Make your donation page accessible.
Online accessibility is the process of making websites more inclusive by ensuring that people with disabilities can use them.
To increase your online donation form’s accessibility, design it with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in mind. These guidelines provide clear instructions for making your site more accessible. Here are a few examples of guidelines that apply to nonprofit donation pages:
- Ensure there’s sufficient color contrast between the background and foreground text. Color contrast is the difference in brightness between the background and text. The text should be distinct enough to be easily read, even by individuals who have visual impairments.
- Avoid any flashing or strobing elements.
- Include alternative text for images and captions for videos.
- Label form fields using descriptive text that isn’t inside the fields themselves. This ensures that these descriptions can be read by screen readers and other assistive technologies.
By making your online donation form accessible, you ensure that anyone who wants to donate can do so without barriers. This can support your organization’s wider goals of making all of your opportunities, from donating to volunteering, more accessible for all community members.
8. Consider making your giving form a multi-step process.
Designing your form to be a multi-step process rather than a single page can actually make it feel faster to complete. That’s because it allows donors to process just a few questions at a time and maintain momentum as they click through each part of the form.
For instance, check out the Boys & Girls Clubs of America donation process. The form starts with options for making a one-time or monthly gift, choosing a donation amount, and dedicating a gift in honor or memory of someone else.
After this page, the form continues by asking for donors’ payment information and offering a variety of ways to give, such as through credit card, PayPal, Venmo, and Google Pay. This helps break the donation process down into manageable steps.
Use A/B testing to determine whether your unique audience responds more positively to a multi-step or single-page donation form. A/B testing is the process of designing two different versions of your giving form, then using website analytics to determine which page had a higher conversion rate.
Maximizing online donations
This section will discuss how to encourage donors to contribute more and make the most of their individual donations.
9. Offer suggested giving amounts.
Suggested donations are the giving amounts that you highlight on your donation form to give supporters an idea of the types of donations that will help your organization the most.
Offer a range of suggested donation amounts on your giving page. Base the lowest amount on your median donation amount to eliminate outliers, and set the other numbers at increasing intervals. For example, you might offer a suggested donation range of $25, $50, $100, and $200.
You can also use A/B testing here to determine the giving amounts that result in the most donations. For instance, you might run an experiment by setting two different suggested giving ranges and evaluating which range leads to a higher donation total. You might also try arranging your suggested donations from low to high and high to low to determine which arrangement yields more donations.
You can also highlight the donation amount that most donors tend to choose to help make your new donors’ decision even easier. Check out how the CARE online donation form highlights their most popular donation amount:
This strategy works because of social proof—the social-psychological idea that people imitate the behaviors of others to conform to the “right action” in any given situation. Giving suggestions make donors feel more comfortable with their donation choice.
10. Enable recurring donations.
Provide an option for donors to turn their one-time gifts into recurring donations on your donation page. This can be as simple as including a check box that says “Turn my one-time gift into a monthly donation.” For example, look at how the Michael J. Fox Foundation giving form prompts donors to make monthly gifts:
Offer a brief description of your monthly giving program and how it helps your organization. For instance, you might describe how your monthly giving program provides a reliable fundraising source in case your organization has to quickly respond to unexpected challenges. Also, describe any benefits monthly donors receive, such as free merchandise, early event registration, or exclusive publications.
It can be helpful to distinguish your monthly giving program from other fundraising efforts by giving it a unique name. For example, Doctors Without Borders calls its monthly donors “Field Partners.” This title makes monthly donors feel like true partners in working toward the Doctors Without Borders mission. To choose your monthly giving program’s name, consider how you can convey its fundraising purpose clearly and concisely through a unique name.
11. Spotlight matching gifts.
Highlighting matching gifts on your donation page can be a great way to maximize supporters’ donations. Businesses with these programs match donations that their employees make to nonprofits and other charitable organizations. Businesses usually match at a 1:1 ratio, but some match at a 2:1 or even 3:1 basis.
Help donors research their matching gift eligibility by incorporating a matching gift database within your donation process. Embed the database in your giving form, donation confirmation page, or a dedicated matching gift page on your website.
When donors access the database, they’ll research their company’s name to see if their employer offers matching gifts. They’ll be able to review the program’s guidelines, such as the minimum and maximum donation amounts, the match ratio, and employee eligibility rules.
Then, donors will view the next steps for how to apply for a match, such as the forms they’ll need to fill out. After they’ve completed these steps, your organization will benefit from the additional funding that matches will bring in.
12. Offer multiple payment options.
These days, there are multiple payment options for all types of online transactions, from paying bills to shopping online. Your online donation form should be no different. By offering donors multiple payment options, you can make the donation process more convenient.
Depending on your donation page integration capabilities, you might offer options such as:
- Credit/debit card
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Bank transfer
Some of these options may even influence donors to give more. For example, if a donor happens to have $50 in their Venmo balance, they might consider donating the entire amount rather than their initial choice of $30.
Offering a variety of payment options appeals to a wider range of donor payment preferences and helps make the donation process more convenient.
Creating a secure donation process
In this section, we cover how to design a secure payment system that reassures donors.
13. Embed your giving page into your website.
Avoid sending supporters to an unfamiliar third-party website to submit their donations by embedding your giving form directly into your website. This ensures that there are fewer steps involved between when a supporter decides to donate and actually completes the transaction. Plus, when your online donation form is fully branded to your organization and integrated into your website, supporters will feel more comfortable giving you their sensitive payment information.
14. Use a secure payment processor.
A payment processor is a digital system that allows you to manage financial transactions, such as online donations. Your payment processor should be easy to use, secure, and fully integrated with other tools, such as your CRM.
With a robust payment processor like Bloomerang, you can benefit from features like:
- Daily deposits to your organization’s bank account
- Simple setup
- Integration with your CRM
- PCI compliance
- An option to let donors cover processing fees
- Real-time payment tracking
With these features, you can track donations and access donor information. Store this information in your CRM to follow up with donors and offer them additional ways to engage.
Stewarding your donors throughout the donation process
This section discusses how you can continue stewarding your donors after they contribute using your online donation page.
15. Provide information about donor portals.
If you’re still deciding on a new online fundraising platform to invest in, look for a solution that allows donors to create their own accounts in a donor portal. With a donor portal, donors can manage their recurring giving, update their payment information, and view their donation history.
Donor portals give supporters more control over how they support your organization. These portals can also save your staff time since they won’t have to spend time updating donor information themselves.
Use your donation confirmation page or follow-up emails to describe the benefits of creating a donor account and provide instructions on how to do so. This allows you to get donors into the system right after they make an online contribution.
16. Ask supporters how they heard about your organization.
Asking donors how they heard about your nonprofit can provide valuable insight into which of your online marketing platforms are most effective. You might offer these options, depending on which marketing channels you use:
- From Facebook
- From Twitter
- From Instagram
- From a Google search
- From a family member/friend
- From a staff/board member
- At an event
- Other (allow supporters to type in how they found out about you)
You don’t want to slow donors down as they complete the donation process, so if you choose to include this question, make sure it’s optional.
Asking donors how they heard about your organization allows you to identify your most popular online marketing channels and focus your outreach efforts on these platforms going forward.
17. Optimize your donation confirmation page.
The donation confirmation page is your organization’s opportunity to start building long-term relationships with donors, so you should use it to offer supporters additional ways to connect with your nonprofit.
Ensure your confirmation page includes:
- A heartfelt thank-you message
- Social sharing buttons
- Additional ways to get involved, such as by signing up for your email newsletter or checking out your event calendar
Remember, your confirmation page shouldn’t be the only place you thank donors—you should also send a follow-up email with a longer thank-you message that describes the impact of donors’ gifts. However, this page represents a crucial first step in the long-term donor stewardship process, so it should be considered an essential element of your online donation process.
18. Use your donation page to collect donor information.
When you use a robust online donation platform (like Bloomerang) to manage your online donation process, you can collect donor information from your giving form and automatically transfer it to your CRM. Then, you can follow up with donors using personalized thank-you messages that include donors’ names and specific donation amounts.
Here’s the information you can store in your CRM for future reference:
- Donors’ preferred names and titles
- Donors’ specific donation amounts
- How donors heard about your organization (if you choose to ask this question)
- Donors’ payment information (to have on hand if supporters want to make another donation or if there are any issues processing their donations)
By storing this information, you can follow up with donors and continue stewarding them after they donate online. This can lead to more donations from these supporters in the future.
Promoting your nonprofit donation form
Lastly, this section covers how you can effectively promote your donation form to a wider audience.
19. Promote your donation page on all online platforms.
Creating an effective online donation process doesn’t just mean optimizing the on-page form elements—you must also market the page to a broad audience. The more widely you can share the page, the more donations you can drive using it.
Promote your digital donation form by:
- Including a link to it in your social media bios
- Incorporating the link into your social media posts
- Sharing the link in your email outreach
- Including a QR code that leads to the form in your direct mail
Of course, you should also feature donation buttons prominently throughout your website. Include call-to-action (CTA) buttons on your homepage, blog posts, about page, and fundraising pages that take visitors to your online donation form.
20. Encourage supporters to share your giving page.
Include social media sharing buttons that make it easy for supporters to share the page with their networks. For instance, as mentioned, your donation confirmation page should offer social media buttons so donors can share their donations with their family members and friends online.
Incentivize donors to share your donation link by commenting on their posts to thank them or entering their names into a prize drawing. You should also encourage supporters to share your donation page link when you’re hosting an online campaign, such as a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or social media video challenge.
The way you design and promote your nonprofit’s donation page can have a major impact on your overall online fundraising success. A strong donation page drives donations and sets the stage for future donor engagement.
If you’re looking for more tips on optimizing your online fundraising process, check out these additional resources:
- Top 27+ Fundraising Software Solutions for Nonprofits. Looking for new fundraising software to support your online donation process? Review over 27 top options that might work for your organization.
- Peer-to-Peer Fundraising | A Nonprofit’s Guide for Success. Interested in specifically launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to engage donors and supporters online? This guide provides a blueprint for a successful campaign.
- How to Upgrade Nonprofit Donors Using Suggested Donations. Want to learn more about how suggested donations impact online fundraising? Explore this strategy in more depth with this post.