Getting website visitors to come to your nonprofit’s donation page is one thing—but getting them to donate is another thing entirely. If you’re wondering how to get more donations online, start by asking yourself the five questions below. We’ll reflect on how well your donation page is working and what improvements you could make starting today. You’ll walk away with some concrete examples of donation pages that do it well, along with some practical pointers for improving yours.
Let’s jump right in with the first question to ask yourself.
One of the most common donation page mistakes is assuming that the website visitor has already decided to donate. With this assumption, the donation page is treated like the finish line of a race. The visitor has already run this far—so surely they plan to finish, right?
Unfortunately, this metaphor often falls short. Most website visitors who come to your donation page will not do so with their wallet in hand and their mind firmly made up. Instead, they likely have some lingering doubts and questions: how you’ll use their money, whether they’ll actually make a difference, whether it’s worth the time and effort… The truth is that the donation page is more often the starting line, not the finish line. Visitors may click to this page intending to donate, but they still need encouragement to follow through.
We’ll get into what “encouragement” might mean later, but let’s start by looking for one sure sign of this donation-killing assumption: a donation page that’s essentially blank. For example, look at the (anonymized) donation page below. See how there’s only a tiny amount of text here? No images, logos, testimonials, statistics, or other supporting elements? The majority of the page is all about the money, making it clear that this organization views the page as a final step—not as the starting point that it so often is.
Ask yourself whether you’re treating your donation page like a finish line. Do a quick check by pulling up your current page and performing a “squint test”: Does the page seem blank or empty? If so, don’t worry—that just means that we have a fantastic opportunity to improve it! The rest of this article will give you hands-on tips on what to improve and help you design the page as if you’re speaking to someone who knows nothing about you, why they should donate, or what you’ll do with their money.
You’ll be able to persuasively make the case for what you do, like the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has done so well, even in a small popup.
If you realize that your organization is currently making the assumption in question #1, you’re not alone. But that means that you may be making other potentially damaging assumptions, too. It’s worth asking yourself if any of these other common assumptions are accidentally being made on your donation page:
Every assumption leaves a gap in the visitor’s mind. If you don’t answer their questions, they’re left to answer them for themselves. At best, this introduces friction and, at worst, takes them away from your donation page altogether. It’s a rare person who will leave a donation page to find an answer and then return to actually finish donating!
Look again at the bullets above and ask yourself if your donation page is making these assumptions. It’s as easy as it sounds. Pull up your donation page (right now, why not?) and go down the list, one by one. Do you…
Rare does all of the above!
Mozilla also does an amazing job of including these key elements, even in a small space.
Many nonprofits have a single online donation page linked from dozens of buttons, blog post links, social media posts, and even paid ad campaigns. And while this set-up might seem like an efficient use of limited resources, it can actually pose a big problem. Why? Because the exact same donation page won’t make sense for every scenario and every website visitor.
For instance, consider the very distinct paths that could all lead to a donation page:
The key takeaway is that each person is coming to the donation page with very different expectations, needs, and questions. If those expectations are not met as clearly as possible, the visitor is more likely to leave than to donate. So while creating different versions of your donation page can feel like a lot of work, it’s one of the best ways to convert donation page visitors into actual donors.
Resist the easy path of having a one-and-only donation page. Instead, create different versions for different user journeys, like The Nature Conservancy has done. Seen below is their regular donation page, which comes with an offer of a free magazine subscription that might appeal to a casual website visitor.
The next example is a landing page linked from a Google search of “donate to save wildlife.” Notice how they’ve replaced the magazine offer with a statement about what they do and why they do it better—aimed at convincing me, an active Google searcher, that I’m in the right place. By creating a slightly different donation page for this paid ad, they can better target their messaging (and test out different versions) without impacting their website’s general donation page and magazine subscription offer.
People don’t read online, right? Not necessarily. People read what they care about—and if website visitors care enough to consider giving their money to you, then they probably care enough to read a few words before pulling out their credit card. Your donation page should contain thoughtful, well-written copy that encourages the website visitor to follow through and finish the race.
Highly effective copy for a nonprofit donation page will be succinct and snappy while also:
National Audubon Society instills urgency and uses that inspiring “we” on their donation page.
NAACP also does a great job. Their donation page uses powerful language that matches their brand, includes both the “we” and the “you,” and explains what your gift will accomplish.
Refer back to the bulleted list above and compare it to your nonprofit’s donation page. Within the headlines, paragraph text, labels, and buttons on your donation page, are you:
It can take time to find the right messaging on your donation page, but it’s worth the effort. If you can get alignment from your team, I’d also recommend A/B testing different versions of donation page copy. Testing is the best way to discover which messages resonate.
A great donation page is a balancing act. It has to have enough information to inspire the gift and enough fields to collect the required data—but never so much that the user feels overwhelmed or demotivated. And the most common culprit for overwhelm by far is the donation form itself. For example, check out at the anonymized donation form below. The screenshot is only one-third of the entire form, and it’s safe to say that “overwhelm” is the first word that comes to mind!
Look at your donation form. How many rows, columns, and fields does it contain? Do the form fields give a visual appearance (or even a mental perception) of a lengthy, painful to-do list? Does the entire form take more than about a minute to get through? Are you asking for information that could be gathered later?
To keep your donation form as simple as possible, go through it with a fine-toothed comb and ask for only the essentials. You can always request more information on the thank you page or by email. The shorter, simpler, and cleaner your donation form, the less mental burden the donor will feel. Other recommended ways to simplify your donation form include:
See how Mozilla achieves simplicity without sacrificing any of the key trust-building elements?
Wherever you begin to tackle your donation page optimizations, even small changes can and do make a difference! I hope you now feel empowered to look at your donation page in a new light. By using the five questions above, a little elbow grease, and some A/B testing, you’ll be on track to improving the donor experience and getting more donations online.
Andrea Schlottman is a graphic designer, copywriter, and content strategist. She’s half of Pixel Lighthouse, a digital agency that helps nonprofits make a bigger impact online. When she’s not working with impact organizations, you’ll find her practicing on the yoga mat or making a mess in the kitchen.
The post 5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Make Your Donation Page More Effective appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.