Donations are the lifeline of any nonprofit organization as they play a crucial part in furthering your impact and ensuring financial sustainability. As we approach the end-of-year fundraising season, it is critical to prepare to attract new donors, build a relationship with existing constituents, and maximize the donation size.
Online giving has increased significantly over the last few years (refer Fig1), and thanks to internet/social media which has led to an increase in the number of small donors. On the other hand, more and more organizations are becoming accessible and are competing for the same donors. Therefore, nonprofits have to get creative and be smart about how they are asking for donations online.
Fig 1: Online Giving 2012 – 2018
Source – www.nonprofitssource.com
An online donation process can be broken down into three steps. The first step is to trigger a call-to-action (CTA) for visitors to donate; followed by step two, taking the visitors to your donation page where they can donate a secure connection; and the third step is to send a confirmation to the visitor about receiving the donation.
To be effective at raising funds online, you’ll have to carefully design your approach for each step and keep testing to get the desired results. We are sharing some of the best practices that you can use to excel at each step and stand out from the crowd.
Step 1: How to trigger a Call-To-Action for visitors to donate
Get the word out.
- Create clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons which are easy to find
- Place CTA buttons at multiple digital touchpoints: for instance your website homepage, social media pages, emails, videos, etc.
- Add the “Donate Now” button on every page of the website
- Create a customized URL. For instance, yourwebsite.com/donate, www.yourwebsite.com/charitytuesday/donate, or www.yourwebsite.com/campaignname/donate, etc.
Please note that CTA buttons should directly take the visitor to a donation page and not have intermediary steps; too many steps will cause prospective donors to abandon the effort.
Step 2: How to create and optimize your donation page
A Donation Page or Donation Form can be constructed using online fundraising software which is both easy and comes with lots of features and benefits. You can download our fundraising software guide here But you can also create one by yourself and optimize the page using the below tips to drive results.
- Design a branded donation page
Your branded donation page should be on your website. It should have your logo and branding that is consistent throughout your website. Use the same color schemes, fonts, logo, language, and layout as your website to keep branding consistent.
- Simplify your donation form
Keep it one page and use simple language. It is good to have a combination of images, texts, and videos but if you overdo it might send donors away. Remove distractions and keep them focused on donating.
- Use compelling visual
A picture is worth a thousand words but a video is worth a million. Use 30 seconds to 1-minute videos on your donation page. Avoid using stock images and put pictures of your nonprofit events, campaigns, meetings, volunteers, etc.
Promo is a good marketing tool to create compelling visuals.
- Optimize for mobile
More than 90% of American adults own a smartphone, so it is very likely that many of them are learning about your nonprofit on their mobile devices and making donations too. Therefore your donation page and website need to be mobile-optimized.
- Use encryption for the donation page
Donors are sharing sensitive financial information through your website which can be a huge risk if your page lacks a secured connection. Please use payment solutions that incorporate Transport Layer Security that allows for secure online transactions.
- Develop concise copy
If you have three blocks of text, multiple call-to-action buttons linking back to your website and drop-down menus, it’s time to rethink your content strategy. Do not overload information. In one or two short paragraphs explain your mission and the donation’s potential impact.
- Collect minimal information
The donation form needs to fit on one page and ask for the necessary information. Please refrain from asking donors to register first and then make a donation.
- Specify the donation amount
Instead of leaving a blank for donation, give donors suggestions. Providing levels of donation may put their minds at ease but be careful to not make your lowest suggestion too low as donors may be more inclined to select the minimum suggested amount.
- Recurring donations option
It is important, to begin with, donor retention in mind and you can influence that by placing a recurring donation suggestion to the donors.
- Include social proof
Sometimes donors need a little nudge to get them to donate and sharing comments, tweets, images from other donors can convince them fully.
Step 3: Create Thank You Page
The final step in the donation process is to have a “thank you” page.
Donation page does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to converting visitors to your website into donors but Thank You page can help you retain the donors.
A “Thank You” page is the landing page that donors see after donating. This is where you would have their full attention as they wait for their payment confirmation. It is the most direct and fastest way of saying thanks to your donors.
Here are five key ideas that a nonprofit can use on Thank You Page to be effective and to set the tone to build a strong relationship with the donors->
- Express gratitude through a short video: A thank you message recording from your organization’s founder or executive director to create a positive influence. The message should not be generic and should include specific details about the fundraising campaign.
- Reinforce the impact of the donations made: Communicate to donors how their donations will impact your organization. To retain donors you need to make them feel like they belong to your community. Use phrases like “your $10 is giving clean water to __” or “Every $1 donated by you is feeding a hungry child in __” and so on.
- Delight donors with a small token of gift: Depending upon your marketing budget, you can surprise donors with either a Tote Bag, a Mug or a T-shirt to thank them for their support. This will make donors feel thanked tangibly. You can also create an online certificate of donation that can be downloaded and shared by donors.
- Encourage donors to share their donation on social media: Add social share buttons to your thank you page and prompt donors to post about your fundraising campaign to their social networks.
- Invite donors to your special events: Include a link to an upcoming event on your thank you page and invite donors to attend the event. This will make them feel like part of an exclusive club.
Let us know in the comments some of the best practices that you’ve used to thank your donors.