5 Online Donation Form Best Practices

Dec 15, 2020

We’ve been talking a lot about how to fundraise throughout this year's giving season, but what happens once a donor reaches your website and wants to make a donation? Do you have an online donation page that is easily accessible and quick to complete?

Online giving is growing at three times the rate of overall giving, so it’s really important to make sure that your online giving game is on point. You don’t want to put in all the work to steward your donors, only to lose them at the final click. So, here are five easy tips to enhancing your online giving forms: 

Tip 1: Accessibility and Action

Research shows that people will leave your website within 10-20 seconds if they don’t find the information they are looking for. Make it easy for supporters to find your donation form by ensuring you have an attention-grabbing “donate now” button in your website header, visible on every page of your site.

Once potential donors click through to your donation page, ensure that you have a compelling call to action – why should they care about your cause and make a donation? The use of a captivating image (of a single person or animal) on a donation page can reinforce the call to action. 

Ensure that your form is readable and easy to understand; users should be able to donate within a couple of minutes. And don't forget: The little things do matter. Pay attention to font size, colour usage and ensuring that your form design looks “on brand” even if it’s hosted externally. A branded donation form instils trust and confidence that a donor is in the right place and that their data is secure.

Tip 2: Keep it Simple

Have you ever heard of the KISS principle? It usually stands for “keep it simple, stupid” (but we prefer "keep it simple, Sparkles!") and the focus on simplicity is definitely applicable to the design of your donation page.

Keep your form clear from distractions. Content should be concise but ensure that you all the basic information to stay in contact with your donors. Remove any unnecessary fields and questions; you will learn more about your donor as you establish your relationship.

Try to avoid dropdowns and instead opt for tick boxes where possible. You don’t want donors to miss critical information or choices that could sour their donation experience.


Tip 3: Give donors options

This might seem contradictory to Tip 2, but it is important to give your donors different payment and donation options.

The easiest way to do so is by allowing your donors to pay using different payment options. It's crucial to accommodate the popular providers such as major credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay and gifts of securities.  

Another great way to incorporate options is to set up pre-set donation amounts that let the donor know what their gift can accomplish. For example, "$100 will provide lifesaving surgery to a child in need." By setting up pre-set donation amounts, you help frame the problem your organization is solving and gives the donor the ability to be part of the solution. 


Tip 4: Mobile friendly is mandatory!

Is your donation form responsive? ie. does it resize and reorganize content of the form to fit the screen size of the device being used? If not, you could be losing donors.  

Giving through mobile devices is growing exponentially. According to CanadaHelps, donations from mobile devices grew 33% compared to 25% from desktop users. And mobile traffic grew by 55%, while desktop traffic grew by only 13. If it's not easy to donate using a phone, you will definitely lose potential donors who click from your social media to your donation form.

Tip 5: Post-donation stewardship

What happens once a donor makes an online donation? Do they just disappear into cyberspace? No! Now is the time to truly cultivate the relationship with your new (or recurring) donor. Make sure that they receive an immediate confirmation and thank you from your organization. This can be done through an automated confirmation page on your website or a confirmation email to the donor (or both!).  Also make sure that they promptly receive a charitable tax receipt. 

Don't forget to steward these donors beyond their initial thank-you and tax receipt. Remember, your donors are invested in your cause, so take them on the journey with you! Send them updates on their programs of interest and share the impact that their donations have made.  If they are new to the organization, send them a digital welcome series to introduce the great work you do. The stronger your relationship with your donors, the more likely they are to give to your organization again.

That’s it! By following these five steps, you’re on your way to online donation success. To read more about how to step up your digital fundraising game, check out this article on how to spark digital donor engagement.


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