Welcome to the Nonprofit Snapshot blog!

Picture this: You decide to donate to a nonprofit that’s piqued your interest and sit down, phone in hand, to complete your transaction. However, when you navigate to the nonprofit’s donation page, you have to click through to a third-party donation form that’s hard to read on your phone. You start to fill it out and realize it’s asking for a lot of your personal information and is going to take you a lot longer than you thought. Instead of donating to this nonprofit, you decide to abandon your donation and look for another organization to give to. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting a nonprofit or you’ve been running your organization for years—you know that your success relies on effective fundraising. And a huge part of fundraising today is not only driving donors to your online donation page but keeping them there. This is where the design and functionality of your donation page can be a huge asset to facilitate as many donations as possible. To help you optimize your own nonprofit donation page, we’ve organized the following essential strategies:

  • Pay attention to design.
  • Embed your donation form.
  • Use a reliable payment processor.
  • Provide other engagement opportunities.

Eager to learn more about how you can make the most of your online giving form to maximize donations and engagement? Let’s dive in.

Pay attention to design.

Did you know that it takes only 50 milliseconds for online visitors to form an opinion about your website, including whether or not they like it and, consequently, if they’ll stay? In other words, before online users can take a moment to appreciate all of the resources, materials, and opportunities packed into your site, they’re going to be guided by their eyes and make a snap judgment based on the look and layout of your webpages. And while it’s unlikely that many visitors are going to start their digital journey right at the donation phase, the same can be said for your donation page—most people are going to base their first judgment on what they see. So, how can you ensure that donors are greeted with an inviting and professional donation page that keeps them on the page for longer than a few seconds? Consider these web design best practices:

  • Utilize consistent branding. Make sure that your online donation page looks similar to the rest of your website, with colors, terminology, and logos that match your overall professional brand.
  • Mobile-responsiveness. One surefire way to alienate a growing percentage of your online donors is to have a donation page that isn’t optimized for mobile devices. This will not only change the design of your page for mobile users, but it will also make it more cumbersome and difficult for them to complete your donation form. Ensure your donation form automatically adjusts to fit the size and structure of smaller screens.
  • Keep things clean and simple. When it comes to your donation page, the last thing you want is for unnecessary clutter or a confusing layout to distract donors, or worse, keep them from figuring out how to donate. Make use of white space and simple formatting to keep things orderly and neat for visitors.

Beyond just your donation page, you can also adapt these fundamental web design strategies to the rest of your entire online platform,giving your website a facelift that can increase engagement for your digital supporters.

Embed your donation form.

According to Re:charity’s article on donation page friction, one major aspect of your donation form that can drive donors away and minimize contributions is the layout and functionality. To combat this, you could decrease the number of fields on your form or place related fields side-by-side and reduce their size. Additionally, you should remember to embed your donation form. While not embedding your donation form into your donation page might sound like a nitpick, not taking the time to properly embed your donation form means that donors will be sent off through a third-party page or link to complete their donations. This not only disrupts both the design of your donation page and the donation process itself, but it can also frustrate, confuse or even scare away donors from completing their gifts. After all, they might think that their small donation isn’t worth the trouble of navigating to another website and waiting for it to load. Alternatively, maybe they don’t trust the new platform that you’ve directed them to and they don’t want to submit their personal information into an unfamiliar domain. By investing in more effective tools to accept online donations, which include embedding capabilities, you can streamline the design of your donation page and create a more convenient, professional, and trustworthy online donation experience.

Use a reliable payment processor.

While your donation form is a critical user-facing tool, your payment processor is an equally important back-end tool that functions behind the scenes to ensure that everything is working as efficiently as possible on your donation page. However, because the payment processor is mostly working quietly in the background to make sure that payments and donor data are being processed smoothly, many nonprofit professionals aren’t sure what makes for a “good” payment processor. It should obviously be secure, but how do you measure security—and what other features should you look out for? For some insight into these questions, let’s look into the iATS guide to nonprofit payment processing, which recommends payment processing tools that have:

  • PCI-compliance, which is the official standard of security set forth by the world’s major credit card companies and administered by the PCI DSS Council.
  • Anti-fraud security protocols, like BIN verification, tokenization, and data encryption.
  • Integration capabilities, meaning that it can be directly embedded into your online donation page.
  • Multiple payment options, namely credit and debit cards as well as ACH and international processing.

While your payment processor may be out of sight most of the time, rest assured that opting for a safe and convenient nonprofit payment processor will go a long way to smooth out the donor journey and keep their data secure.

Provide other engagement opportunities.

When people are asked to explain the purpose of a nonprofit donation page, the first thing that comes to mind is, unsurprisingly, to facilitate donations. However, beyond encouraging and processing one-time gifts, there are various other ways your donation page can encourage donors to give, interact with you, or get involved. For example, your donation page might also:

  • Ask donors if they’d like to opt into email newsletters or text messages. This will not only keep donors in touch with future engagement opportunities (such as your volunteer program), but also pave the way for more effective email appeals and text fundraising campaigns in the future.
  • Encourage donors to share their support on social media. Don’t forget to thank your supporters for their gifts and provide them with links to be able to easily declare their support on social media. This will both boost their engagement and help to further prompt your cause to new donor prospects.
  • Offer expanded giving programs, like recurring or matching gifts. Maximize your online donations by promoting these additional giving opportunities. In particular, embedding a matching gift tool into your online donation form can help donors submit a matching gift request to their employer in seconds, allowing them to multiply their donations without spending an extra dollar.

From helping you recruit more supporters for your volunteer program to growing your monthly giving program, your online donation page can greatly increase support for your organization far beyond just straightforward donations. Of course, you shouldn’t clutter your donation page with blocks of text and forms that distract from the main donation form. But taking the time to naturally incorporate these additional opportunities into your donation page can greatly benefit your fundraising and stewardship efforts.

Among all of the many different systems, software, and tools that make up your nonprofit’s fundraising and stewardship arsenal, your online donation page is often underutilized and underestimated. However, now that you’ve been equipped with these simple, yet effective nonprofit donation page best practices, you should be ready to take the first steps to leverage your donation page to its fullest engagement and fundraising potential.