10 Tips to Create an Effective Website Donation Page
You work hard to lead prospective donors to your website. But once they arrive on your donation page, will they be inspired to complete the gift? Donors — especially first-time donors — can lose confidence in their decision to give if your donation page is purely transactional or difficult to use. Here are 10 ways to ensure your donation page makes it easy for donors to give and feel great about supporting your organization.
1. Don’t Forget the Message
Just because they’ve arrived on your donation page, don’t presume a prospective donor is ready to give. Take the opportunity to succinctly remind them how their gift will be used, what impact it will have and who will benefit from it. Be clear and concise; a sentence or two should be enough to make your case while keeping the donation page simple and the form “above the fold.”
2. Show Don’t Tell
A photo on your donation page that shows the impact of your work can provide powerful inspiration for donors to follow through with a gift. For maximum visual impact, select one “hero” photo rather than a collage or slideshow. Place the image in a way, such as to the right of your donation form, to avoid pushing the content too far down the page; this visual arrangement will have an emotional impact without pushing the form fields “under the fold.”
3. Help Donors Imagine Their Impact
When donors can envision the powerful impact of additional dollars, they might be inspired to give at a higher level. If you have the means, recruit professional help to create compelling ways of demonstrating impact through interaction design. For example, consider associating outcomes with each giving level, such as the number of meals each gift level can provide, to help donors envision the power of their gift. But a word of caution: These visual incentives can do more harm than good if poorly executed, so leave this tip to professionals who understand website usability and interface design.
4. Remove Distractions
It can be tempting to add additional calls to action on your donation page but try to resist the urge. Instead, keep your donor focused on completing their gift without distractions that could cause them to navigate away. If you want to promote a program or send donors to your blog, save it for the thank-you page (see tip No. 8 for more on this). Also, consider removing other distractions on the page, such as footer navigation or sitewide promotions, that could lead your prospective donors out of the donation funnel by luring them away.
5. Retain Credibility
If your donation page is built on a third-party donation platform, provide visual cues that help donors feel confident that they can trust you. Be sure your donation page matches your visual branding and, if possible, embed the donation form within a page on your website domain to ensure a seamless experience.
Your donation page is also a good place to discreetly display ratings, endorsements or awards from trusted watchdog organizations. These recognizable graphic seals can help donors feel more confident about giving to your organization online. Remember not to link the icons, though, because you want to keep the donor on your donation page rather than having them navigate away.
6. Retain Visual Brand Consistency
People notice subtle visual discrepancies, though they might not know exactly what is off. This can cause potential donors to subconsciously second guess their confidence in your organization or your donation platform. If your donate page has a slightly different logo, off-brand colors, or different fonts from the rest of your website or branding, your donors might leave before completing a gift.
7. Make Mobile Giving Easy
Mobile users now make up more than half of all website traffic yet most nonprofit donation pages are difficult if not impossible to use on mobile devices. If your donation page doesn’t use responsive design with quick, mobile-friendly payment options such as Apple Pay, you might be inadvertently turning away potential supporters.
8. Keep the Good Feelings Flowing
They followed you on social. They signed up for your email. They attended an event. Finally, they’re feeling the love and they’re ready to give. Don’t let that good feeling end after they’ve completed their donation. Treat your online donors to a confirmation page that is unexpected. Fill the screen with an image; show them a giant “You Rock!” message; share a video showing how their gift will have an impact. Do whatever aligns with your brand and your audience, as long as it’s authentic and interesting.
Don’t make your thank-you page a dead end, either. In addition to showing your gratitude, you can use this page to provide links that keep the engagement going. For example, provide tools to share on social media, and provide links to your blog, programs, social accounts, or events calendar. And of course, be sure to send follow-up thank-you communications, too, but keep it focused on gratitude and impact. Now is not the time for another ask.
9. Deploy the Power of Convenience
Make it easy for donors to automate their generosity. Provide an option on your donate page to set up recurring gifts on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Busy donors will appreciate the convenience — and they’ll become one less donor you’ll have to work to re-engage later.
10. Borrow a Trick From Retail
You’ve probably experienced the “abandoned cart sequence” in an online retail context before: You put those cozy slippers into your cart but leave the website and forget all about them. Later, you receive an email reminding you about those great slippers — with a convenient link to complete the purchase. This online retail technique can capture a significant percentage of lost revenue for nonprofits, too.
When a donor begins the giving process but doesn’t complete payment, send them an automated message to remind them to complete the gift. The email should contain a brief blurb about the impact a gift can have. Keep it concise and make it easy to resume the checkout process with a simple link to their cart. Your web developer can also set up analytics tracking as a part of this sequence, so you can study the effectiveness of the abandoned cart outreach; you’ll probably be surprised at how much additional revenue you gain.
As principal and co-founder of FORM, Teresa Kiplinger works to develop key growth strategies, production methods, best practices and efficiencies. In her role as chief creative officer, she shepherds the creative team and defines design standards for FORM’s creative work.
In her 30-plus year career, Teresa has served nonprofits throughout the U.S. and her work has been recognized by AIGA, American Advertising Federation, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, and Communication Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Kent State University and served on the inaugural Advisory Board for Kent’s Visual Communication Design program.