How to Improve Your Nonprofit's Website Donation Experience

The holiday season is a time when you’re kicking your fundraising efforts into overdrive. This is the time of year that people are feeling the most generous, and it shows in the results:

According to Charity Navigator,

56% of all the donations that flowed through Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket in November and December of 2015 occurred in the last 5 days of the year. And 25% took place just on New Year’s Eve.

Those generous New Year’s Eve donations clearly have tax deductions for the fiscal year in mind, and the last-minute nature of their giving indicates that nonprofits should make online donations as easy as possible. 

So how can you streamline your online donation process? Let’s take a look:

1. Make it Obvious WHERE to Donate

Nobody’s going to donate to your org online if they can’t find where to donate! It sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of nonprofits just don’t make it obvious enough. The best way to draw attention to your donation page is to make sure it’s in your menu in an eye-catching color. This way it really stands out on every page.

You can see that The Humane Society has two bold donation sections on their homepage:

2. Have an Option to Set Up Recurring Donations

Many people will set up a recurring donation if given the chance. In fact, Network for Good has found that as many as a third of the online donation volume coming from a nonprofit’s website is monthly giving.

This makes it important to set up that option on your site, and make sure to make those recurring donors are thanked and welcomed into your organization’s community - however that looks for your particular nonprofit.

According to Network for Good’s Guide to Recurring Giving, A monthly giving program can benefit your organization in other ways:

  • Recurring donors give more over time.
  • They are more loyal and easier to retain.
  • They are more engaged, often giving additional gifts and volunteering.
  • Recurring donors can be steered toward higher giving levels.
  • Enabling recurring giving online makes administering giving easier

The system for collecting recurring donations depends on which payment platform you’re using. Planned Parenthood has a simple checkmark option to set things up. The key, of course, is to make it as easy and painless as possible for a donor to set up.

3. Explain Exactly Where Donations Will be Used

People like to know where their donations will be going. If you can say that 90% of every dollar goes to X, great, but most reasonable donors will understand that running a nonprofit takes work and has associated expenses. 

Just be honest and talk succinctly about your cause. 

If you have some noteworthy achievements, this is also a good place to briefly highlight them. And as you can see in UNICEF’s donation page, make sure you mention your organization’s tax exempt status!

4. Add a Relevant, Compelling Image on the Donation Page

The right picture (Both UNICEF and the ACLU have great examples. And by now you’ve noticed my artistic arrow-drawing skills :) ) speaks volumes about your organization in a place where too many actual words is detrimental.

Having a 1,000 word essay on your achievements  can lose people right when you want to capture their attention. The right image tugs on the emotions and reminds people why they cared enough to end up on the donation page in the first place. 

Take the picture of Trump below.  The image with the bold ‘See you in court’ statement helped the ACLU harness the passion and fear of the moment and received a record 14,000 online donations totaling $940,000 the day after Donald Trump's upset victory in the early hours of November 9th.

5. Create Specific Campaigns that People Can Donate To

If your nonprofit is working on new or ongoing campaigns, why not create ways to easily donate to that rather than a general donation to the organization?

When you promote a specific campaign that people can donate to, it’s easier for donors to envision exactly where their money is going, which creates that connection and feeling that their donation is making a difference.

This is important to donors, as the Guardian notes that,

In a series of experiments, it was found that people are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary, than they are to statistical information about the scale of the problem being faced.

Check out World Vision’s donation basket below. You’ll see that they have an assortment of campaigns you can donate to. This is a great way to connect a donor to a specific action. 

6. Have an Awesome Thank You Page

The thank you page is an often neglected part of the donation sequence. Your relationship with the donor isn’t over upon receiving their donation - it’s just beginning! 

Make sure that the donor is appropriately thanked on this page, and if it is your intention to follow up with donors with a call, email or letter, let them know, then follow up!

This is also an opportunity to encourage donors to share the news that they donated to an awesome cause and ask them to volunteer or sign up for your newsletter, guide, campaign, or anything else that will bring them closer into the fold.

Next Steps

Do a quick audit of your website’s donation process. Try to put yourself in the place of a new website visitor who likes what they see and wants to donate. Go through each step of the process and see if there’s anything you can improve:

  • Is the donation button in the menu? Does it stand out?
  • Do you have an option to set up recurring donations?
  • Are you succinctly explaining your mission and where the donation will go on your donations page?
  • Do you have a compelling image on your donation page?
  • Are their specific campaigns people can donate to, or just general operational support?
  • Do you send donors to a thank you page where they can see some next steps options?
  • Do you call or email donors to follow up?

Some of these improvements may take a some web-design help, but there are a few quick wins in there that should make your website donation experience better for your new fans!