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10 Donation Page Best Practices For Your Website and Beyond

These ten donation page best practices will help your online fundraisers stand out and attract more donors.
Donation page best practices depicted with a group of people gathered around a computer screen.

Whether you’re asking for donations for your nonprofit, a personal cause, or a business, people only like to give when they can see their impact. These ten donation page best practices will help your online fundraisers stand out and attract more donors.

1. Secure Your Site With An SSL

Starting with the basics, make sure giving on your website is secure with SSL. An SSL certificate allows your domain to display the https:// in the URL bar instead of the less secure http:// prefix. Your donors will feel more secure giving when they see the “lock” in the browser showing them that you take their information seriously. It’s also crucial for the overall security of your website. If you want to know more, we talked all about the different kinds of SSL certificates on Give LIVE.

2. Own Your Donor Data

Another crucial piece of both your data security and donor trust is to make sure you own your donor data. There are many reasons for this, but the most important are that no one else can exploit your donors or gain access to private information. One of the benefits of using a plugin like Give instead of a third-party platform is that you don’t share your donor data with anyone.

“When you work with an online donation system like [GoFundMe and Classy], you are effectively sharing all of your donation data with them. They store all the information about your donors. They are co-owners of that information.”
Matt Cromwell, Partner and Head of Support and Community Outreach

When others have access to your donors’ information, they might be able to use it to contact them with other marketing initiatives. It depends on the particular platform’s terms and conditions of use. Protect your donors by knowing their data is secure with you.

3. Tell a Story That Inspires Donations

Besides feeling safe, people need to feel inspired by the cause they’re giving to. Make sure you’re explaining why you’re asking for money and how it will go, especially on your forms. You may have your story on other pages, but your donation form is where your donors make the final decision to give to your organization.

Include things like the purpose and mission that require funding, how you plan to use funds to accomplish them, your fundraising goals for specific projects, and anything else that might help them decide to donate. Many people also add statistical graphics to the content areas for their forms depicting the need for the work that they do. The key is to make sure you don’t overwhelm your donors but also provide enough information to inspire giving.

Our Customer Success Team sees a lot of fundraiser landing pages, so we put together a quick tip on elements of excellent donation landing pages. This will give you an idea of how to display your story alongside your donation forms.


Tell Your Story Off The Page

Leading people to your online donation forms also requires storytelling in many other formats. The first and most important is your other on-site content. We recommend using blogging to create the evergreen content your nonprofit needs to drive more traffic.

Make sure to post regularly and also vary your topics. Switch between volunteer stories, impact stories, news and events, etc. If you’re using the new WordPress editor, you can even create your own Gutenberg templates for different blog post types on your own website. Templates will help you save time later on.

If you’re having a hard time finding inspiration to post something about your organization or your cause, then check Google Trends, Google Discover, and your own reviews. Even if you’re not aware, your nonprofit could already be collecting reviews. (Read more about nonprofits and reviews, here.) Your reviews are a potential gold mine for volunteer and impact stories. Social listening tools will also help you pick up on similar conversations.

4. Use Social Media for More than Just Fundraising

Take your story beyond your website. Make telling your story the emphasis of your social media and other marketing campaigns. Marketing professionals working with nonprofits even say that paid Facebook Ads emphasizing storytelling (versus fundraising or event campaigns) help nonprofits excel all-around on Facebook.

By using social media more strategically and trying out the new technology available, you can capture the attention of a much larger audience. For example, Instagram is a huge asset for nonprofits of all kinds, but massively underutilized.

You can even use social media to thank your donors publicly if it’s appropriate. Try auto-tweeting when someone donates using Zapier.

5. Master Asking for Donations with Clear Wording

There are explicit warnings to not put too much emphasis on your donation asks blaring everywhere across the internet, and with good reason. That’s why we emphasize storytelling first and foremost. However, when it is time to ask for donations from your supporters, clarity is key.

Use clear and precise wording with middle school-level language. Sixth to eighth-grade language might seem too low, but most (American) adults read at a lower level than you would expect. By speaking plainly and clearly, you will convert more donors. It reduces their frustration and overall donor friction.

You might also have a complicated giving structure. Some organizations accept large donations in the form of both check and physical items. Be sure to communicate all giving options clearly on your donation pages.

6. Send Fundraiser Emails & Use Direct Mail Fundraising

In general, you should always use your email and mailing lists mainly to keep in contact year-round through storytelling. Let your supporters, board, volunteers, and donors know what’s going on to keep your organization at the front of their minds. Then, when it is time to send out your fundraising asks, it feels more natural for them to give. If you need help wording your donation emails, we created 12 Giving Tuesday Email Campaign Templates that can be used for any kind of major fundraising campaign.

In addition to email and digital marketing, you may also want to consider sending out traditional mail as well. Different demographics are converted to donors in different ways. Many organizations find success by reaching their donor base in multiple ways.

Direct mail is done best with a well-crafted letter and brochure that captures your story and organization’s needs. Make sure to include the link where they can donate online as well as an address where they can mail a check. Consider including a self-addressed, stamped envelope to facilitate offline giving.

Many nonprofits are deterred from traditional mail due to the printing costs and new digital tools available. However, there are still many who are motivated by holding that paper letter in their hands and putting a physical check in the mail. On the other hand, younger generations are increasingly interested in event-based, digital, and mobile giving.

7. Enable Mobile Giving

In order to encourage more giving from your on-the-go audience, make giving on your website easy on any device. Since about half of overall website traffic is mobile, it makes sense to ensure the use of your forms on a phone or tablet.

Almost all modern WordPress themes are built with mobile responsiveness as a core feature and Give forms are also fully responsive. If you’re using the Stripe Payment Gateway add-on, you can connect to both Apple Pay and Google Pay making it even easier to donate.

Many phones using the Chrome mobile browser also have the ability to enter credit card information in any credit card field by scanning your card with your phone’s camera. Donors have to be logged into their Google account for either feature to work, but it’s compatible with both iPhone and Android devices.

Credit Card Info: Scan New Card.

Making your donation forms mobile ready is just the beginning, though. You can also make your own mobile app with Give using AppPresser. Using these tools, you don’t need any code to create an application for your organization. A mobile app makes your cause much more accessible to a younger and tech-savvy audience.

8. Make Your Donation Page Easy to find

Since donations are the foundation for many organizations, it’s important to make sure it’s easy to find your donation forms. If people can’t find the page because it’s hidden, they won’t be able to give.

We gave a few other tips on where to place your Giving Tuesday forms for more donations last year, but your general giving forms should be visible all year long. You should also use a link label that makes sense so people know what it means. Use words like: Donate, Give, Support, and Contribute. This eliminates confusion and makes it more likely that someone looking to give will see the form.

Here are a few quick tips on form placement:

Most organizations make sure that their donation page is at least linked in the main navigation on their website. In addition to your main navigation, you might include a donation button in a sidebar or footer, for example. Displaying your forms in different styles also creates a bigger impact. Try making use of Give’s modal popup and reveal displays.

9. Retain Donors With an Email Opt-In

If your donors have contributed to your organization, that means that they are interested in supporting your cause. Keep them informed of the great work you’re doing by connecting them to your newsletter. Use the Give MailChimp Opt-in or one of our other marketing platform integrations. By adding donors to your email lists, you’re able to retain them year after year by communicating your story to them. Now you can share your impact, your volunteer stories, and (occasionally) your need for further donations.

10. Say Thank you

Of course, once you receive a donation you need to thank your donors for their generosity. This is a critical step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your “Thank You” might be the difference between retaining a donor and attracting more versus losing a supporter altogether.

Make sure your donors always feel appreciated a few different methods. We already mentioned that you can use Zapier to auto-tweet a thank you, but you can also use it to send hand-written Thank You cards. Here’s a tutorial on how to set that up:

There are a variety of other ways you can thank your donors as well:

The point is, make sure you always say “Thank you” and make your donors feel appreciated.

A Summary of Donation Page Best Practices

However you choose to show your gratitude to your donors, make sure it’s heartfelt and inspirational. Remember, the most important part of connecting with your donors is telling your story and making sure they know they are appreciated.

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