Improve Online Donations

Online donations are increasing, according to the latest Nonprofit Benchmarks Study performed by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network. In 2013, website traffic for Nonprofits increased 16% and online giving increased 14%, which is good news for organizations looking for new fundraising strategies. Nonprofits like yours can take advantage of these trends by improving your online presence to increase donations. 

A boost in online donations requires adjustments on your end. Although online giving is increasing, your website and social media presence could be stopping you from reaping the benefits. 

To get more supporters to donate online, you first have to drive more traffic to your website. Social media is an excellent tool for driving traffic, and according to the benchmark study, social media audiences continue to grow at a rapid pace. Use various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest – and don’t be satisfied with just having an account. Be active on social media and post updates regularly, working to expand your audience and engage users. 

Encouraging supporters to visit your website is a start to boosting online giving, but it’s your website that will determine whether they actually donate. Seal the deal by giving your audience a great online experience. Usability, Content, Donation Button and the Donate Pages are all factors that will influence whether supporters donate or simply exit out of the site. 

What is a Usability Test?
A test where you task a group of people who have never used your website before to sit down and try to accomplish certain objectives, such as completing an online donation, while you observe them. It will help you identify possible roadblocks or areas of the website that may be unclear, which you can then improve and then retest.

Usability: Poor navigation will leave supporters feeling frustrated, and they may give up on your website before even making it to the donation page. Users shouldn’t have to struggle to find information or their way around your site. Set up usability tests to pinpoint problems within your site, and then tweak them to give your donors the best online experience possible. 

Content: Before donors give money, they need to know more about the organization they’re supporting. Specifically, they want to know your mission, goals and how you plan to spend their money. This information should be clearly presented so donors won’t have to search your site extensively. Place the content where donors expect it, such as the home page, About Us page or on the donation page. 

Donate button: Every page of your website should have a “Donate Now” button to direct users to the donation page. Make the button big and noticeable, using a contrasting color to catch your donors’ eyes and entice them to click.

Donate-Button-ExampleOn the World Wildlife Foundation website, the ‘Donate’ button is in an obvious place and colored orange to contrast it against the rest of the homepage. They also employ a common marketing trick of positioning the homepage photo so the main subject (Mr. Monkey) is looking at the desired action for the user, which in this case is to click on the ‘Donate’ button.

Donation page: Clicking the “Donate Now” button should take the user to your donation page, which is one of the most crucial aspects of the online donation process. Encourage donors to take the final step by making the donation process as simple as possible. Long forms are a sure way to make donors think twice before donating. Create a form that asks only what you absolutely need to know for donors to contribute. The more simple the form, the more likely donors will give money. Many Nonprofits, such as LiveStrong (pictured), offer a range of preset sums for the user to select from, as well as an “other” field for donors to input their own amount


Now it’s time to collect money! Make sure you have a simple and secure way for users to submit payment. There are a host of services out there that can help you in this arena. Services like provide a range of tools for creating your donation page, collecting payment and tracking your progress, but these services typically require a contract with a monthly fee.

If you are on a budget, solutions like PayPal for Nonprofits will help you establish a simple payment collection method. It is free to set up and use on your website but charges a small percentage per transaction. PayPal doesn’t include any tools for creating donation pages, collecting donor information or tracking your progress, so these are things you would have to do on your own. Regardless of which approach you choose, make sure it is secure and offers a wide range of online payment methods for donors to contribute. 

Online donations may be only a fraction of your yearly revenue, but tapping into this expanding opportunity will make a huge difference over time. Take time to look at how you can improve your online presence to boost online donations. 

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Winspire Communications Director

About Ian Lauth

With an extensive background in marketing and design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.

Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content,  newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals. You can also find Ian on Google+.

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