4 Critical Elements to Get Your Site Ready to Accept Donations

April 15, 2020

If you aren’t yet investing time and energy into fundraising online, this is the time to start! For those of you who are already doing so, now is the time to double down on your activities. Although some of your supporters may be facing economic uncertainty, many are at home and want to help!

The Giving Report 2020 found that online giving was already growing three times as fast as offline giving. But with the advent of COVID-19, and the associated social distancing measures, we are seeing that many people are moving more of their lives online. Those who were previously hesitant to FaceTime with family, order groceries or clothing online, or attend religious services virtually are doing so now, and at a rapid pace. After social distancing measures lessen, many people will have developed new habits and newfound comfort with conducting transactions online.

Although there are many advantages to fundraising online, you do have to adjust to different expectations; attention spans can be relatively short, competition can be fierce, and anyone transacting online expects the process to be seamless and easy.

In this article, I cover four critical steps to ensure your website is ready to accept online donations, and that you’re prepared to turn your website visitors into online donors. In my next article, 2 Important Ways to Drive Supporters To Your Site, I offer two critical ways to drive existing and potential supporters to your website.

1. Add your donation form to your  website

First and foremost, choose an online fundraising solution that allows you to embed your form on your own website. Existing donors have a relationship with your charity and trust you, rather than a third-party organization. Potential supporters may not be entirely convinced to donate, so never link them to another website where they might be distracted or find a different charity to give to.

2. Optimize your donation form

A major benefit to embedding your form is you tend to have more control and can do more to optimize a potential donor’s experience. Here are a few easy things you should do that will help you raise more with your form:

  • Customize your donation form to match your brand by including your brand colours and logo.
  • Provide 3 or 4 suggested giving amounts to help guide your donor’s choice. They should always have the option to choose their own amount, but many donors hesitate to give without some guidance on how much to give.
  • For each suggested amount, provide tangible examples of the impact your charity can make. For instance, how many meals you can serve, how many trees you can plant, how many animals you can save, etc.
  • Remove other distractions. Once a donor is ready to give, make the donation form the prime focus and exclude any links that might distract them.

3. Make it easy to find your donation form throughout your site

Simply put, if someone is interested in giving, make it easy for them to find your donation form. Furthermore, by including a link to donate frequently, you can make giving top of mind for those who may be visiting your site for other reasons. Here’s how to make it easy for interested donors to find your form:

  • Add a link to “Donate” or “Donate Now” to every page. I suggest including it in your navigation in the top-right area of every page, as well as in the footer of your website.
  • Add additional links to “Donate” in context wherever it makes sense. For example, if you are sharing the successes of one of your programs, add a link to your donation form for those who are inspired to support your work with a donation.
  • Include a prominent link to your “Ways to Give” page for more giving options. Include a link to your donation form, along with any other ways donors can support you (volunteering, gifts of securities, in-kind donations, etc.).

BONUS TIP: Include a link to donate in the header or footer of every email you send to supporters.

4. Optimize for mobile devices

Giving through mobile devices is growing faster than giving on desktop computers. The Giving Report 2020 found that 21% of online giving was made using a mobile device, that’s $1 out of every $5. If a donor reaches your website on their smartphone, it simply has to be as easy to give through a mobile device as it is on desktop.

This means you have to go beyond being simply legible on a mobile device—it should be what is referred to as “responsive”. This means your site should automatically adjust for someone viewing it on a mobile device. Here are the key things to keep in mind:

  • Make it easy for supporters to navigate and find what they’re looking for. Consider a drop-down style of navigation (often called a “hamburger” style menu) and a visible, ever-present link to donate. Also, make sure buttons are large enough so that those of us with “fat fingers” can easily navigate your website.
  • Ensure it’s easy to read and easy to view. Text and images should resize automatically so they’re readable and viewable on smaller devices.
  • Ensure your donation form is also optimized for mobile so supporters can easily tap through and donate directly from their mobile device.
  • BONUS TIP: If you’re not sure how mobile-friendly your site is, try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It will cover some of the basics and make suggestions for how to make your site better.

You’re already a pro at telling your charity’s story. By following the elements above, you will increase the likelihood that an interested donor will give to your charity right there in the moment.

After you’ve done all this work to optimize your website, you need to get supporters to visit your website. Not sure where to start, or need a little extra push? Read Part 2 of our COVID-19 Online Fundraising Essentials series to learn about two of the most cost-effective, yet successful ways to drive more donors to your website.

Need help getting your website ready for online donations?

Reach out to our team of fundraising experts today!

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