Optimizing Your Website and Donation Forms for Increased Conversions this Holiday Season

Online donors have a particular set of expectations about their experience. These expectations have risen even further when online shopping became the norm. 

Our job as a sector is to meet those expectations as best we can, using the tools and information that we have access to.

The first step is outlining these expectations:

  1. Online donors expect a good website experience. Not only should your website be visually appealing, but it should also make sense from a navigational perspective. Potential donors shouldn’t have to dig through multiple layers of your site to find the information they need.
  2. They expect a smooth donation process. Checkout processes on eCommerce have been optimized and tested to remove friction. Any little stumbling block that would deter a potential customer from completing their purchase is taken out of the process. This is the exact same mindset we need to take into the donation process.
  3. A website optimized for mobile browsing. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly – donors are accessing your page on their phones, especially if they are engaging with your social media. We’ve all had an experience being on a website on our phone that isn’t mobile-responsive. You have the pinch and zoom, and your fingers click on things you’re not intending. It’s a FRUSTRATING experience. And something as simple as that is enough to deter potential donors from completing a donation.

It may feel overwhelming to look at the list of problems to solve, especially if you don’t have a technical background. But it doesn’t have to be.

We can start by optimizing all of the things we have control over. Even small improvements can make a HUGE impact. You can tackle the other issues when capacity allows.

Here are 3 areas we can start with right away:

  1. Optimizing your donate button
  2. Making edits to your donation form to remove unnecessary barriers
  3. Creating or optimizing your “ways to give” page

Let’s start with donation buttons.

Donations from supporters are what keep your charity alive and functioning—we all know that well! With the unprecedented changes in how people work, live, and donate after the pandemic, having a great online presence with impactful donation pages is now more important than ever before for your organization. 

Donate buttons are a consistent, recognizable way for organizations to ask potential donors for gifts. Suppose your organization doesn’t have a donate button on its website. In that case, your audience may find navigating to your donation page or form challenging and leave without making a gift. The goal of a donate button is to make it as easy as possible for donors. 

Let’s dive into donate button tips and best practices to ensure your charity makes the most of its online presence and has the best impact and conversion rates. 

  1. For best results, ensure your donate button is placed on the navigation header of their website’s homepage – ideally in the top right corner. Studies show that users most commonly scan websites in an F or Z pattern. This means the best spot for the Donate button on your website is usually the top right corner. So, the key message here is don’t bury your donate button in the footer where no one will find it! 
  2. For maximum visibility and to grab the attention of your supporter, the button should stand out from the rest of the page. You can customize the button using your brand’s colours. As a rule of thumb, the donation buttons should be big, bold, and bright. The last thing you want is a supporter trying to find the Donate Now button and then bouncing off the site without making a contribution.
  3. Lastly, use active and urgent language. The word “donate” itself is an action and pairing it with words such as ‘today’ or ‘now’ can show urgency and encourage supporters to take action immediately.

What about the mobile experience for donation buttons?

Over 50% of your website traffic is likely to come from mobile browsers, so it is important to ensure that your donate button is optimized for this. The key things to consider are:

  1. Keep your donate button outside of the hamburger menu. Why? So that it is clearly visible and not hidden with an extra click for the visitor.
  2. Ensure the donate button is front and center and visible from all pages. This will ensure that no matter where your visitor is on the site, they can easily see the call to action you want them to take.

Now, once we have the donate button standing out in a prominent place, it’s time for the donation form itself. If you prefer watching videos rather than reading, you can check out a quick video here on top tips for CanadaHelps donation forms; otherwise, keep on reading!

Your donation form is one of, if not THE most important aspect of your website, yet it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. You can make your donation form both more visually pleasing and more functional for your supporters with a few simple changes. The changes will likely increase your conversion rate, equaling more dollars raised.

If your donation form is straightforward and user-friendly, your donors will likely have a great giving experience. But a chaotic form will leave you with many frustrated would-be donors. And it definitely won’t do much to convert your current donors into lifelong friends of your organization.

Here are a few examples we love:

It’s time to take a good, long look at your donation form.

Is it clear and easy to navigate? Do donors instinctively know how to access it? Is all the information on your donation form necessary and applicable? A “NO” answer to any of these questions indicates that your donation form needs a revamp. Let’s talk about how we can change that.

Donation form best practices include removing excess fields, including the option for monthly giving, using visuals that match your brand and mission, and, last but not least, using suggested donation amounts.

Suggested donation amounts are another great way to reduce friction during the donation process! Your donor may be motivated to donate but unsure of what an appropriate amount is. Providing suggested donation amounts can:

  1. Give your donor a sense of the typical gift size
  2. Help with indecision about their donation
  3. Encourage them to give a slightly larger gift

Suggested donation amounts are exactly that, suggestions. Donors will still have the option to type in their own donation amount if preferred. This ensures that donors who already know how much they want to donate can do so.

An example we love:

Lastly, let’s talk about optimizing your Ways to Give page.

Your Ways to Give page is likely a year-round source of revenue for those looking to take action outside of specific campaign periods. Many organizations have moved past a simple donation form and offer several different ways for donors to make gifts. These include one-time, monthly, tribute gifts, events, gifts of securities, and more! This is why you need a strong Ways to Give page - a single place where potential donors can learn and understand how they can support your organization with clear actions to take to convert into a donation. 

It's your best tool when a visitor knows what they are looking for, e.g. I want to make a larger gift, and I want to do so with a gift of securities or cryptocurrency. They have intent, and they'll be looking to see if you support these options, so you need a powerful, clear, easy-to-navigate Ways to Give page that offers those choices.

And, it's not just larger gifts—people will navigate here to find out how to make a Tribute Gift or even fundraise or volunteer for your charity.

The ultimate objective of a Ways to Give page is to convert visitors into donors. But, if this page is disorganized, difficult to navigate, overwhelming, or confusing, it defeats its own purpose of increasing donations. Let’s go through the best practices for a Ways to Give page:

  1. Be approachable. A warm introduction and message of thanks can go a long way to making your page feel more like an invitation than a list of demands.
  2. Organize by priority. Put your most important or popular giving options front and center to help guide donors toward the path that will make the most impact.
  3. Link your donation form. Some visitors will land on your Ways to Give page and easily decide to donate now using your online form. Make it easy for them to get there!
  4. Don’t forget the visuals. Even just one compelling photo can inspire people to connect with your cause or envision themselves as part of your donor community.
  5. Be descriptive. There’s a lot of fundraising and development jargon out there that could make your wording inaccessible to potential donors. Put together brief descriptions of different giving options that you list on the page.
  6. Link various giving programs. If you have giving programs or campaigns with their own pages on your site or elsewhere, be sure to include links for people to keep moving through your content.

Examples we love:

And that's it! It may seem like a lot, but rest assured these are the top optimizations to make to give your organization the best shot at turning potential online donors into life-long supporters.

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