All too often non-profit organizations regard their donation site as a simple job to tick off their task list. They know they need one, but they see it more as their mention in the Yellow Pages than what it could be: a window on the soul of the organization. Your website is one of the most important ways in which the public communicates with you.
Having a donation site for your non-profit is crucial for the success of your organization. It is not only where donors go when they want to know more about your case, but it is also the place where supporters need to be motivated to contribute.
Make sure your website is designed in a way that appeals to the needs of potential donors and thereby maximizes the potential for fundraising.
The design of your website can directly influence your online fundraising. Numerous studies have shown that the layout of a donation site can influence whether or not you generate conversions (for example, someone who makes a donation).
To be very effective, a non-profit website does not have to be complex or expensive. We have collected a number of features that every great fundraising website design should have, followed by some examples.
Table of Contents
The 6 best techniques to make a donation site great:
1. Streamline your donation process
Fundraising is at the heart of every non-profit, so make it easy for people to donate online. If you follow some simple guidelines, you probably also increase the amount that you can collect through your donation site:
Make sure your online donation page and form are easy to find.
A good rule of thumb for this is: try to keep supporters, no matter where they are on your site, just one click from your donation form. This means that you must have a donation button in your main navigation menu. Distinguish it with a striking color from the rest of the menu. The donation link must lead directly to the donation page and the form.
A common mistake is adding extra steps or more text after someone clicks the donation button. Although the intention is usually good, such as informing donors about other ways to participate, these extra steps can reduce the chance that someone will actually donate.
Provide a compelling “Why”.
Use the right software for online fundraising for your donation page.
Software for online fundraising makes creating your own donation site much easier and also offers you a number of functions, such as:
- Amounts entered in advance with descriptions. This lets donors know exactly what they are contributing to.
- Integrated matching for donations from employers.
- Recurring options to be able to donate. Place a recurring option on your form to donate to see higher retention rates from donors.
- A donation ‘thermometer’ to encourage more donations.
- Invoices in PDF and other functions with which you can collect more money.
Artsen zonder Grenzen streamlines their donation process by ensuring that visitors, once they are there, also stay on their donation page.
The more distractions there are on the donation page, the lower your conversion rate will be. Here is a way to keep the donation process exclusively on the task, namely to convert the visitor to that page into a donor:
- Hide the standard top navigation in the header of the donation page.
- Use a simple footer design.
- Delete unnecessary links.
- Hide icons for social media.
- Be sparing with text.
2. Optimize your donate website and donation form for mobile devices
Your website and your donation form must be mobile-friendly. This means that for an optimal display the format of the website pages must be adapted to the device being used.
Our smartphones are becoming an increasingly popular way to connect, share, look up information and donate. We, therefore, expect optimized pages when donating.
We learnt from NP Source
that in 2018 mobile devices accounted for 57% of all internet traffic. The number of mobile donations has increased by 205% in the past year. 51% of people who visit a non-profit website do so on a mobile device.
To make your website mobile-friendly, you must avoid using large photos where donors have to scroll down to get up-to-date information. Your text must also be large enough to be read on small devices. Not sure if your site is compatible for mobile? Grab your phone and check it!
Good navigation is also an important part of mobile-friendly websites. When viewing websites on mobile phones, there is not much room for drop-down menus or complex navigation with a lot of content. Simplify your mobile navigation so that only essential information is available.
NP Source also discovered that non-profit organizations can increase their donations by an average of 126% by including a mobile responsive design. If a visitor gets frustrated when he makes an attempt to donate to your organization on his mobile device, chances are he will leave your site without making a donation.
3. Problem, solution, impact
If you think of donating as a buying decision, your website must answer questions and counteract possible objections in the spirit of the donor.
- Why should I donate?
- Why should I donate to you instead of another organization?
- How do I know my money will be used wisely and ethically?
When you start using content to build your website, you start with the problem you solve, how you solve it and why it is important for the visitor to the site. The process of awareness to scroll down on a page of your website goes about like this: the awareness of a problem, the solution to the problem and the motivation to be part of the solution.
You must follow the ‘problem’ with the explicit solution of your organization for that problem. Then go to the immediate impact of your organization. Prove the effectiveness of your solution by demonstrating the impact with striking visual material. Did you know that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text! Your content is much more attractive and engaging if you ensure that you add the following:
- Photographic images,
- Images or infographics with statistics, data or processes,
- Videos and vlogs.
Donors want to know that their hard-earned money goes to charity. They want to know what your organization will do with their money. Transparency means to be open and accountable to the donor. It means being reliable and delivering on what you promise.
People may only donate if they see examples or proofs on your website that their donations will also be used properly. Some donors can look up your organization on sites such as CharityNavigator, but you save them time and worry if your website provides specific information. This can be statistics, reports from the field or financial data, so that the donors have a certain degree of trust in your organization.
On their homepage, Heifer International has a course that combines transparency and accountability statistics with a call to action. They have added donation buttons with different amounts to donate.
Heifer also has buttons on each page to share with which donors know they can share the page with their Twitter or Facebook accounts.
They also have a separate section with supporting financial information for potential donors to support the due care requirements.
4. Give priority to the ‘About us’ page
When potential donors or volunteers view the services on your website, the ‘About us’ page is probably in their top 3-4 clicks. They want to ensure that by supporting your organization they also make the right choice. Don’t make it a side issue. Understand what this page is really meant for. Even if your non-profit organization has great results on the website to highlight, people should also be able to know who you are. That’s what this page is about. Think of it as a “first date”. It’s all about getting acquainted, building a good relationship and making a memorable impression.
Unfortunately, the About us page can also become a landfill for many things. So don’t try to cram everything on this page. Your annual report, financial data, the mission statement, the life descriptions of the staff and the company history can earn their own place on a separate page on the website. If you ensure that these things do not creep into the page, you can also ensure that you do not just discard their own respective interests. Make sure this page only shows the personality and values of your non-profit.
Make the page about who you are in the strictest sense:
- Who wants to help your charity? Are you fundraising for ecological / planetary reasons, human rights, animal welfare? Be clear about what or for whom you collect money.
- What you do: all organizations have a story. What inspired you to start?
- Why you do it: provide details about the projects you have worked on in the past, let donors know what you are doing and what you have planned for the future?
Think at a high level and stick to highlights. This is really a chance to emphasize what you are doing on one memorable and meaningful page.
You may notice that some organizations frame the About us section in a slightly different way. Some call it “Our story”, “Who we are” or simply “Know more about us?” They all have the same intention: to find out what it’s all about.
Do not ignore the impact of visual stories and the ability to present the story of your non-profit organization in a more attractive way. Although a good text on your About us page is still essential, the role is sometimes only supportive and contextual for photos, images or videos.
Long content does not always translate into lasting impressions. If you are thinking about writing an About Us page, avoid the lengthy version of your story.
Stay with the elevator speech, but in a written form. That is, write the content as if you have to sell your organization in the time that people need to take the elevator from top to bottom in the building. Be convincing and cite all the highlights of what makes your non-profit so great and distinctive. Keep your content attractive, but concise.
The Nature Conservancy does their About us page really well. They call it “Who we are”. A three-minute video tells their story and provides fascinating statistics about the scope of their work. Think about Show and Tell. It is not one or the other. Consider refreshing your About us page by adding some photos, images or a video.
5. Use video
How successful a fundraiser is depends on the donors. It’s not so much about teaching people something, but about making contact with people. That’s why it’s so important to include a video on your donation site. With videos, to build a bond with your audience, you can combine your story with an emotion that words and photos simply cannot do.
Video offers incredible opportunities for your non-profit organization to recruit supporters, engage them in your work and help you raise funds. Video can help your audience visualize why you exist, move them to feel real emotion, and motivate them to care, share, and take action.
Online, video rules. In terms of likes, shares, downloads and donations, video consistently outperforms all other forms of digital communication.
- Videos this year alone represent 69% of all internet traffic for consumers, with the prediction that this will grow even more in the coming years.
- Video content is responsible for 85% of all internet traffic.
- 57% of online donors donate after watching an inspiring fundraising video.
- Fund-raising pages promoted by a video generate four times as many donations.
- More than half of the videos are viewed on a mobile device.
- 92% of the non-profits say that the investment they have made in a video is valuable.
- Use the iMovie app to create videos and upload them to YouTube and Vimeo. A member of your team can master iMovie in just a few hours. For your non-profit organization, you can easily make fundraising videos, edit them and also provide them with titles, photos, music and effects before you publish them. Search for “How to use iMovie on iPhone” to find free manuals for this.
- Put together a library of visual material made by volunteers and staff. Show the good that you do with inspiring images from behind the scenes and interviews with program recipients.
- Be passionate and show donors how they can contribute.
- Thank them by continuously recognizing the generosity and support of donors.
- Make sure you always have a clear call to action at the end of your videos! Don’t let your audience float, ask them to make a difference.
- Post videos on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook and cross promotional emails and text messages as often as you have something attractive to share.
Sample videos to insert after the video section
Save The Children
Slaying Childhood Cancer door Alex’s Lemonade Stand
This video simply tells the story of a person’s struggle. The father of a young cancer patient tells about his painful experience with this disease but has such a light-hearted and uplifting portrait of his daughter that it is impossible not to get emotional. It is a convincing example of how simple personal stories can be just as effective as the results of large production budgets.
The Adventure Project
The Adventure Project builds a community through entrepreneurship, sponsoring jobs in developing countries to improve the survival of children, reduce conflicts and get people out of poverty for good. This video shows the results of a certain project and is a good example of how an organization can use video to define and demonstrate the impact of their work.
The Measles and Rubella Initiative: Sophie and Olive Draw their Week in India
This video is great because it is simple, yet fascinating. After three minutes it is long enough to get a deep insight into the work that The Measles and Rubella Initiative does. By focusing on someone’s experience in one region, the viewer/listener can make deeper contact with the story being told.
6. Make it easy to recruit volunteers
If your organization needs a lot of volunteers, think about how the opportunities for volunteering are integrated into your donation site.
- Do you have a link or button on your homepage to a volunteer page?
- Does that page adequately describe the volunteer experience and the requirements for it?
- Can volunteers easily contact you via your volunteer page?
- How easy it is for volunteers to also click on other pages on your site?
Even if you only need a few volunteers, a volunteer page has value. Via your link for volunteers you can make contact with people you did not expect and who are interested in your work.
is equally effective. Not only can you easily get information about the different ways to support them, but you can also search for the Girl Up club that is closest to you. They do their best to offer visitors every opportunity to participate.
A donation site for online fundraising does not have to be expensive and complex to be effective. Beyond Bars Animal Rescue is a small organization with a volunteer link, which is prominently displayed on the homepage.
Essentially, you want your non-profit donation site to be simple, well-arranged and easy to navigate. Limit the number of images, media and links to what is really needed and organize your content in a logical way. Let your media work. Remember: every extra step in the navigation process is a chance for a donor to be distracted or to review his decision to donate.
This is what it ultimately comes down to:
As soon as you begin to consider your donation site as a potential generator of income, PR and partnerships, the importance of keeping your site updated and user-friendly becomes clear. If you have a mediocre donation site with mediocre content, you will also receive a mediocre response from visitors. But if you have a donation site that makes your goal clear, communicates your impact and hits visitors, you have a powerful recruitment and fundraising tool available 24 hours a day.