If only online fundraising were as simple as adding a donate button to your site! But it’s not. You need great stories-and great writing and media on your website to showcase those stories. But you already knew that-you know that people need to be inspired by your work before they’ll click that donate button.
Yet, you have to get people to visit your site first or that donate button is useless. And before you do even that, your site’s donate button-and donation form-has to be designed in such a way that, once inspired, people will follow through with the donation. Great stories, emotional writing and amazing media are not enough to get people to complete the donation process if your donate button is hidden, or your donation page a confusing mess. Here are 11 tips to help you optimize your website’s donate page and button for maximum impact.
Donate Button: Be Seen & Clicked
If you want people to donate, you’ve got to make it easy for them. If people can’t find your donate button, how can they help? If they have to work to give you money, chances are they won’t.
- Use clear language on your button like Donate Now or Give Now. This isn’t the place for vague calls to action-even “Support Us” isn’t strong enough, as that could be anything: volunteer, planned giving, in-kind donations. Nor is it the time for polite hedging. Just say no to phrases like please consider, think about or why not give… Be forward. Make it absolutely clear what you want people to do.
- Include your donate button on every page, not just the home page. Did you know that a large chunk of people don’t enter your site from the homepage? If your donate button only lives there, how many of the people who visit your site will never see it?
- Place your donate button above the fold, in the upper right corner. The upper right corner is the most valuable “call to action” area on a website-an ideal location for your donate button. If your site uses side navigation, list the Donate button first.
- Use a larger size and contrasting color to make your donate button stand out. The human eye adjusts to different viewing environments with amazing speed-causing things to be easily filtered. If your donate button blends in with everything else on your site, people will miss it. Be bold. Make it bigger. Make it colorful.
What the heck does “Above the Fold” mean? It refers to the area of a webpage that can be seen without scrolling. Of course there’s no fold in your computer screen-the term is borrowed from the newspaper industry where the most important stories are placed on the front page above the fold.
Donation Page: From Here to Submit Button
They’ve clicked, they’re ready to give, your work here is done! Nope, think again. The deal isn’t sealed until someone clicks “Submit.” If the donation page you take people to is a hot mess, do you think they’ll stick around to finish? They will if you optimize it.
- Direct people to an actual, secure donation form. People who click “donate now” want to do just that-a page listing the cornucopia of giving options you have doesn’t help them do that. The more pages you make people click through to give you money now, the less likely they are to do it. Put your wishlist and info on planned giving, stock transfers, car donations, etc. somewhere else.
- Reinforce your ask on the donate page. Don’t dump people on a page with no messaging-or generic messaging like “Donate Now” and that’s it. You’ve got to nudge people to continue-briefly remind them why they want to give with a short message at the top: For every $25 you give today, a family of four will have food for a month. Thank you for helping families in need! Or something.
- Make the form as streamlined and simple as possible. Remove distractions-the easier it is for people to click away, the more likely they will do so. Keep them focused on what they came to do: complete the donation form and give. Your message is not a distraction, but that sidebar is. Your navigation bar is too. And this is so not the place to pimp your newsletter or Facebook sign-up one more time.
- Only require the information you absolutely need. The more fields you make people fill out, the more likely they’ll abandon your form. Name. Address. Credit card. Donation amount. Email… these are requirements. That’s not to say you can’t ask for more, just make sure people know it’s optional, and don’t ask for too much more-what information would actually be useful? I’d say gender and birthday-both of which will help with targeting and stewardship later on.
When to create multiple donation pages (if you can):
- If you have multiple campaigns around different areas of interest. Create separate donation pages with messaging specific to each area instead of one generic page.
- If you segment your appeals by larger and smaller donors. Try making two forms with different donation ranges. I gasped the first time I saw an online donation form starting at $5,000. Worse, it was listed vertically so all other amounts were below the fold. Imagine how your donor who can’t really afford $100 will feel upon seeing that. Different donation forms prevent sticker shock for your lower range donors and discourages major donors from giving less than they would. Win win.
AWESOME BONUS TIP #11: Turbo-charge your website for online donations by using a pop-up appeal with your ask and a donate button that shows up for first-time visitors to your site. (Helpful hint: This is a popular method many use to boost email sign-ups, but you can set it up so that it alternates between donations and sign-ups. And it works. Awesome, right?)