How to Boost Online Donations by 30% or More

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You’ve done it. You’ve managed to cut through the nonprofit clutter and catch the attention and interest of a potential donor. Eager (or at least willing) to open their wallet and donate, they’ve landed on your website’s home page.

Now that they’re here, the question is: can your website close the deal?

If your answer is an emphatic yes, good for you! You’re part of a growing contingent of nonprofit organizations who have come to the realization that putting time, energy and money into an effective and attractive website is an investment in not only converting donors, but in achieving a range of broader organizational goals.

If your answer is no, or you’re not sure, it might be time for a brand and/or website overhaul, or at the very least an audit. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider how to get started.

Appearances Matter — A Lot

The design of your website is of critical importance to your fundraising and overall success. On one level, strong design is a matter of function: does your website make it easy and intuitive for various visitors to accomplish what they’re looking to accomplish — whether that be to learn more about you, volunteer, apply for a job, or donate?

On another level, carefully considered design and copy — and a consistent overall brand – says a lot about you as an organization. If your website looks and feels haphazard, amateurish, or out of date, what does that suggest about your organization as a whole? A polished and professional website implies a polished and professional organization — one that can be trusted to manage a donor’s funds responsibly.

How To Increase Your Online Giving

If you’re an organization that relies on fundraising, your donation page is probably one of the most important sections of your website. But what makes a good donation page? It might not be what you think. By following basic best practices like the ones listed below, Briteweb helped CMMB increase their online donations 30% year over year.

Make it as easy as possible for them to (donate) by cutting out anything that may distract your donor from giving.

    • Less is more. Donation pages should be light on copy, images and links to click away. That means one image maximum, no navigation bar (don’t make it easy for them to leave without donating!) and a brief, clear call-to-action with little supporting copy. Many organizations assume that this page needs to “convince” donors to give, but in reality most people who land on this page have already made the decision to donate. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so by cutting out anything that may distract your donor from giving. If you have other means of donating (e.g., by cheque or legacy giving), include a means of viewing that option, but not in a way that will deter donors from giving online. CMMB’s donation page is a great example of a page with a singular, laser focus on online giving.

We recommend three to five options; more than five has been shown to result in drop-offs at this step.

    • Multiple choice. Again, the point of your donation page is to make it easy to donate. Pre-populated donation amounts allow donors to easily choose an option. We recommend three to five options; more than five has been shown to result in drop-offs at this step. Work with your development department to determine what your most common online donation amounts are. You can use those as your pre-populated amounts, or increase them by five to ten dollars to encourage a small increase in your average online donation amount. Couple these pre-populated options with a field where the donor can easily enter a custom amount.

 

    • Allow monthly giving — but don’t force it. Provide donors with the option to give monthly, but don’t select this option by default. Anecdotally, donors we’ve spoken to say sites that automatically select the monthly giving option make them feel manipulated or tricked into ongoing donations. Make the option available, and easy, but let your donors choose it willingly.

 

    • Seamless is better. If you can keep your donation form embedded within your website, do it. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and the donor will need to open an external form or page to complete their donation, but doing so makes for a less-than-seamless donation experience. When we worked with CMMB, they were processing donations through a third-party platform, Kindful. To create a more unified donation experience and minimize any hiccups or red flags for donors, we used Kindful’s API to send a minimum amount of form information from CMMB’s main site to their third-party donation platform.

 

    • Show you’re legit. Many donors, particularly baby boomers who are donating online, are reassured by seeing charity accreditations on your donation page. Anecdotally, donors have told us that they don’t necessarily know what these accreditations mean, but seeing them makes them feel more confident that their donation is going to be used responsibly.

 

 

Want to learn more about CMMB’s journey to improved donor conversion? You can read a case study about our collaboration here.

Engage the Experts

As CMMB learned, a website overhaul is a complicated process, from audience profiling to content strategy to UX design to development. Though some or all of these functions may exist in-house, bringing in external support in the form of strategists, designers and developers – or an agency that provides all of the above — can streamline the process considerably and free up your internal resources to manage your ongoing operations.

At its best, an agency acts as a deeply invested extension of your team, closely collaborating with your in-house resources to ensure your website and other communication tools set you up to achieve all your goals related to fundraising, recruiting and awareness building.

Because digital and brand agencies — particularly ones that specialize in the social impact sector, like Briteweb — develop strategy and digital tools full-time, we are experts in the most current best practices for nonprofit website design and development. We also have a tried-and-true process for getting you from start to finish — on time and on budget.

At its best, an agency acts as a deeply invested extension of your team, closely collaborating with your in-house resources to ensure your website and other communication tools set you up to achieve all your goals related to fundraising, recruiting and awareness building.

Think you need a new website? A new brand? Something new, but you’re not sure what? Our Account Director, Michelle Morico, has an impressive ability to help social impact organizations figure out how to move forward, and how to sell a brand/web project to your Executive and/or Board. You can schedule a coffee or conversation with Michelle (no pressure, we promise!) 

If you’re looking for help with a different kind of project (like brand identity, print design, or leadership consulting), reach out to us at agency@briteweb.com.

About author

Briteweb

Briteweb is a new breed of branding and digital agency, committed to working exclusively with nonprofits, foundations, and social ventures. Together with their clients, they're transforming the role of branding in the social sector.