15 Key Components of an Effective Donation Page

If you’re a digital fundraiser, you definitely know it’s no easy feat to convert visitors into donors.It’s hard enough getting people to your donation page but once you have got them there, there are a ton of potential blockers that can either distract, prevent, or turn off potential supporters from filling out your donation forms.

As a digital  fundraiser, one of your goals should be to create a donation page that’s as frictionless as possible. To achieve this, you need to remove all of those distracting, annoying, and confusing obstacles that commonly prevent visitors from converting. There are lots of elements on a donation page that can have a bearing on whether a visitor will make a donation.

1. Make that headline snappy

Your headline is probably the first thing your visitors’ eyes will gravitate toward when they reach your donation page, so you need to make it count.Ask yourself “if your visitor read nothing else on the page but the headline, would she know exactly what she’d receive by supporting and how they would be helping by and submitting the donation form?” If it’s not clear, make it so.

A great donation page headline sums up the offer as clearly and concisely as possible, and answers the question, “What will visitors who donate on this page be supporting? What can they expect your charity to do with their money?”

In addition to clarity, punch up the prominence and language of the headline. Does it stand out? Make it bold, and use a header tag. Is it compelling? Use strong verbs, adjectives, and keywords.

2. Make your text dynamic

Just as with your call-to-action copy, writing with action verbs is crucial to the success of your donation page copy. Donation pages are particularly susceptible to the blink test — the commonly accepted 3 seconds you have to orient visitors to a new page they click through to on your website. If within 3 seconds, a site visitor can’t glean what exactly they can do on that page, they click the back button. On a donation page, that means you could be losing regular donors, not just regular site traffic.

When you write with verbs, you’re giving stronger, more definitive instruction for visitors that helps them learn what they are supposed to do on that page — in other words, how they can pass the blink test

3. Keep your copy short

The text on a donation page should explain the value of their support clearly, simply, and in a compelling way. If your donation page looks more like a blog post than, well, a landing page, it’s probably a good indication that you need to shorten your copy. A landing page with lots and lots of explanatory text is not only initially daunting to the reader, but it also buries the value of your offer. Shoot for around 100 words of copy or fewer in your landing page description so your visitors can quickly read and understand what your fundriasing project is about — and be enticed to support it with a donation.

4. A final point about donation page copy

Keep your copy short may not be enough if it’s all in one big chunk of unformatted text Separate your donation page text into bite-size chunks that are easily scannable. As I said earlier, your landing page visitors don’t want to waste their precious time trying to understand why they support your cause. And if at any point, they feel like it’s not worth determining, they’ll leave and they may never come back.

5. Use good design and layout

The design of the donation form can play an important role in both usability as well as fundraising. Even so, many nonprofits are still using generic donation checkout pages where the donation form doesn’t match the rest of your website’s branding. It may contain your organization’s name, but little else about the page tells your donors that they are in the right place- that they are giving to the organization whose website they were just browsing.

A well designed form that is visually appealing with clear fonts against a contrasting background is easy to read and use. Well designed forms get easily noticed and is more likely to result in a donation

6. Make your campaign aims clear

If someone has to do lots of thinking while they’re on your donation page, you’re doing it wrong. The value of supporting your campaign  should be apparent as soon as they arrive at the page.

Make sure your donation page make it totally obvious how supporters can help. That way, your donation page visitors aren’t spending time figuring out what the heck you are asking them to do  — they’re actually filling out the form to do it.

7. Move that form up ‘above the fold’

Do your visitors have to scroll down on the page or search high and low to find where or how they can make a donation? If your form is below the fold (in other words, your visitors have to scroll down on the page in order to find it), move it up so it’s more prominently visible. Worse — if they don’t understand that they need to fill out the form to make a donation in the first place, make it clear.

8.  Make the form appear shorter

Sometimes people won’t fill out a form just because it looks long and time-consuming. If your form requires a lot of fields, try making the form appear shorter by adjusting its styling. For example, reduce the spacing in between fields or align the titles to the left of each field instead of above it so that the form appears shorter. If the form covers less space on the page, it may seem as if you’re asking for less.

9. Actually make it shorter

Try to simplify your forms as much as possible. Forms that use fewer fields and steps are much easier to use and tend to produce better conversions. Try to keep your forms as simple as possible. Keep it single step as far as possible.

Ask for less information. No one likes to share their personal information. The amount of information requested in your form has a direct impact on conversion rate. Try to minimise the number of fields in your form. If a field is not needed, remove it. And whenever possible, use  dynamic form fields that automatically adjust to a shortened version if a visitor has already been entered into your database.

10. Remove distractions

You want your visitors to focus on one thing and one thing only – completing the donation form. So limit as many potential distractions as possible on your donation pages and don’t include anything on your page that might prevent them from doing just that.

This includes removing any website navigation so visitors aren’t tempted to visit another part of your website, and get rid of any other calls-to-action for other offers you might have on the page.

A donation page on which any top/side navigation bars are hidden will minimize distractions, reduce friction, decrease a landing page’s bounce rate, and increase the chances that visitors will stay on the page and make a donation.

11. Eliminate the paradox of choice

Providing lots of different options makes it hard for the donor to know what you need from them. When presenting donation options keep it simple. What’s most important, one-offs? Regular donations? Memberships? Participation in a run? You have to decide! Put that option at the top.

12. Use powerful images

Donation pages that include a relevant image give visitors a tangible idea of what they will be supporting and make donation pages much more visually appealing. We humans are visual creatures, so it’s no wonder we’ve seen an increasing emphasis on visuals in marketing lately. (Think about all those infographics, memes, and the rise in visual social networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.) So if your donation page doesn’t include some kind of visual – or a compelling one, for that matter – adding one is an easy way to encourage donations.

13. Include reviews and testimonials

Just as third-party seals of approval from reputable organizations establish your credibility and security with visitors, it helps to have actual customers vouch for you via reviews and testimonials right on your donation page.

14. Include social sharing buttons

These links enable visitors to easily share a donation page with their connections on social networks extending the reach of your donation page beyond your own network of contacts, fans, and followers.

15. Don’t forget about mobile

With a high number of people reading email on mobile devices, the key landing pages of your website, and your donation forms, need to be mobile friendly and easy to use on smartphones. Keeping things uncluttered and focused on one clear call to action will help.

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  • Kimberly Reynolds

    Regarding mobile users, I recommend redirecting them to a mobile-only donation page. Usability studies show nonprofits lose the vast majority of mobile visitors to their donation pages because the abandon rate is tremendously higher. On a phone, even typing in your email address is a pain…

    • I have read those very same statistics. It is extremely worrying that non-profits are losing committed supporters because of frustration with using forms on mobile devices.

      I am intending to write another piece about making great forms for moblie devices because this is so important.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  • D I

    I was re-reading and I thought of a potential 15th item which is to make sure people find your page! I have found that clearly signposting the page is vital (many of the points above just as relevant to thinking about this too). If no one ever finds your page it’ll never work. Even if it’s awesome.

    I work mostly with arts orgs in the UK (who are also charities) and they are being encouraged to fundraise more directly from their audiences. This is leading more of them to feature pages like this on their site. The main barriers I think are a discomfort with boldly asking for money upfront and jargon. This leads to poor copy/design decisions and the pages buried too deep in the site.

    We need to be braver and clearer about getting people to the donation form in the first place.

    • That is certainly important too. There are so many different things to consider

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