12 Donation Form Best Practices to Inspire Your Online Fundraising

12 Donation Form Best Practices to Inspire Your Online Fundraising

donation form best practices

In today’s digital landscape, a nonprofit is synonymous with its donation form.

Imagine this. Your nonprofit is out there, fighting the good fight for a cause that is close to your heart. You’ve received tons of encouragement from people everywhere. What could go wrong, right? Well, a poorly designed donation form can be all it takes to discourage a potential donor.

Studies show that it takes around 50 milliseconds to make a first impression on website visitors. That means you have literally a fraction of a second to convince a user to use your donation form. You have one shot to get it right – so make it count.

There are other factors that go into an awesome donation form that makes donors want to whip out their credit cards. So, we’ve put together a list of best practices for your donation form, as recommended by industry experts. Let’s get started.

12 Donation Form Best Practices:

  1. Simplify Your Donation Form
  2. Brand Your Donation Form
  3. Optimize Your Donation Form For All Devices
  4. Make Donation Forms Easy To Find
  5. Aim For As Few Clicks As Possible
  6. Get Recurring Donors On-Board Quickly
  7. Establish The Best Donation Tiers
  8. Ask For Info But Don’t Make It Compulsory
  9. Be Upfront About Disclaimers and Policies
  10. Test Your Donation Form
  11. Use Secure Payment Processors
  12. Send Out Donation Receipts

1. Simplify Your Donation Form

The truth is that donors don’t want to deal with complicated donation processes, no matter how great your cause is. So you need to keep your donation form as minimalistic and uncluttered as possible. Only ask for information that you deem necessary. And don’t bombard users with unsolicited information.

Make your text as simple and concise as you can. Long-winded sentences are going to bore potential donors. If possible, get a professional or a friend who is good at writing to help you put your content together. Your donation form copy should get to the point but still maintain an empathetic tone.

Some examples of organizations using good design practice for their donation form:

Donorbox donation forms offer a simple design coupled with an easy donation process- one that makes the donation experience a seamless task. You can customize the donation form without losing the simple layout, add the most common donation tiers, and even add a short description of the impact- making your donation form effective and well-rounded.

2. Brand Your Donation Form

Ensure that your donation form fits in with the overall look and feel of your website. A donation form that coordinates well with the rest of your web page shows professionalism and that you take your online fundraising seriously. Donors respond to organizations that take the time to do things right. It inspires confidence.

Choose a donation form that you can customize easily. Use the right colors. Pay attention to details, like text alignment, spacing, spelling, and grammar. They may seem like minor things but they’re still noticeable. And it all makes a difference.

Add a hero image of your nonprofit’s work. Perhaps one showing kids enjoying the hot meal that donations have made possible. Or an action shot of your field team working with people in need. The aim is to show potential donors what you’re all about. And a good picture is worth a thousand words.

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3. Optimise Your Donation Form For All Devices

Almost every smart device has a browser, be it a phone, tablet, or desktop computer. A good donation form is able to show up optimally on any device. People are always on the go and technology helps them stay updated and productive. The most likely scenario is that your donors use more than 1 type of device to access the Internet.

Your donation form should be accessible, no matter what device they use. Aim for the same donor experience across all device types. It should be equally easy to donate on a computer at home as it is on a smartphone while on the bus.

Online donation pages had an average conversion rate of 8% on mobile devices last year, but the number of transactions completed through mobile devices increased by 50%. Half of all nonprofit website traffic last year came from mobile and tablet users. (Source)

The importance of mobile giving has increased more than ever. Read our mobile fundraising guide here and implement some of the best mobile giving strategies for your nonprofit.

4. Make Donation Forms Easy To Find

People have limited time available. And even if potential donors want to contribute, they will lose interest very quickly if it’s too hard to find your donation form. Ideally, your donation form should be somewhere on your homepage.

If a donor has to scroll down quite a bit to get to the form, consider adding a bookmark somewhere higher up, so they can get there quicker. Or, if your donation form is on another page, make sure that it is accessible in about 1 or 2 mouse-clicks.

From the moment a potential donor hits your homepage, you’re on the clock. So, make those precious seconds count. Lead them, subtly yet purposefully, to the donation form as soon as possible.

Make your donation button stand out by placing it at the top right corner on your homepage and a color that contrasts with your website color theme. Donorbox gives the options to add a donate button and customize it on your website. Further, you can embed the donation form directly on your website or as a pop-up. So you have the option to make the best-suited choice for your nonprofit website. Here is an example of a pop-up donation form.

Pro Tip: Add your donate button to the website navigation bar. Make it sticky, so that it is always visible.

5. Aim For As Few Clicks As Possible

As mentioned above, the goal is to secure the donation quickly. This requires limited mandatory information and a fast checkout process. Don’t intimidate potential donors with long screens for capturing data. They may decide that it’s just too much hassle and abandon the whole donation.

Another good tip is to allow for clickable answers rather than typed responses. For instance, if you’re looking for volunteers, it’s better (and quicker) to get their response with a “Yes/No” radio button that they can simply click.

A quick, step-by-step donation process is known to work better than a complex, long-form. Donorbox forms offer multi-step donation experience such that the donor:

  1. Selects or adds the donation amount,
  2. Enters payment details,
  3. Donates!

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6. Get Recurring Donors On-Board Quickly

Finding donors who are willing to donate consistently is the first-prize for any campaign. The onboarding process should not need to be a long and tedious registration, filled with verification emails and gathering info that you actually don’t even need.

The time spent on this exercise should be kept to an absolute minimum. Donorbox handles donor onboarding like a champion. It literally takes a single mouse-click. No extra info is needed to complete the process. The Donor gets an email with instructions to log in and that’s it.

Donorbox lets nonprofits highlight their most popular and optimal recurring donation period and highlight it on the donation form- by adding a small heart icon, that catches your recurring donor’s eye.

7. Establish The Best Donation Tiers

Sometimes, donors want to contribute but aren’t sure what donation amounts are acceptable. You don’t want to “demand” a set amount from donors. In some cases, the amount might too high for them to afford so they just don’t give at all.

Avoid this by suggesting a choice of various amounts so they can decide on how much they want to give. Start with a minimum amount – around $5-10 is usually a good starting point. Add some higher amounts for donors that can afford it. And include some higher (but not unreasonable) options too.

Add a description of what the amounts will cover. This gives donors a more authentic and personal impression of your campaign. Instead of just asking for $15 with no other info given, explain that $15 will cover lunch for 10 kids.

For recurring donations, give donors a choice of different donation intervals. Some donors may not be able to give $25 every week but will be happy to set up a recurring donation of $75 a month. Your goal here should be to cater to your donors’ circumstances. They’re the reason that your fundraising campaign is possible, so do your best to accommodate them.

8. Ask For Info But Don’t Make It Compulsory

Do a bit of planning before setting up your donation form. Figure out what information is really necessary and what is not. For example, capturing employer info is compulsory in the US if you’re running a political fundraiser. But, if you’re raising funds for an animal shelter, you don’t need to know where a donor is employed.

That said, don’t be afraid to ask donors for feedback and suggestions. A good nonprofit knows that donors have great insight into the grassroots level of their work. So, use the opportunity to gather intel but don’t make it a bothersome activity.

9. Be Upfront About Disclaimers and Policies

Donors respond better to organizations that are transparent in their activities and policies. It is considered good practice to give them easy access to your organization’s policies. And it is a sign of sound and honest management within your nonprofit.

Place short summaries and/or links to your policy documentation alongside your donation form – a web page link or a cloud-host document will suffice. Try to use language that is easy to understand.

You can also use this opportunity to inform your donors of possible tax implications. Several countries allow donors to write their donations off as a tax-deductible expense if they are made to a registered non-profit organization. Many people aren’t aware of this. So, if this applies to your organization, share the good news. You get more online donations, and your donors get a tax break. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Here is an example.

10. Test Your Donation Form

This may seem like an obvious idea. But it is easy to underestimate the importance of testing your donation form thoroughly. Get colleagues to process some test donations (which you can refund later) and give you feedback on their user experience. Was the layout too cluttered? Did the donation take too long to process? Did they encounter any unexpected errors?

Use their feedback to improve and fix certain aspects, if needed. A donor that encounters a problem with your online donation form may not try again. So your goal should be to give them a smooth user experience the first time around.

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11. Use Secure Payment Processors

If one is not careful, unsafe online transactions can lead to empty bank accounts and stolen identities. Online donors know these risks but are still willing to donate to your campaign. So, show them that you take their online security seriously. Use the best and most secure payment processors available to you. Two such examples are Stripe and PayPal.

Assure your donors of the security measures you’ve taken. It will give them confidence that your donation forms are safe to use. Using trustworthy payment processors is also a benefit to you as an Organization. It gives you peace of mind that your money is safe and that all transactions made on your account are secure.

12. Send Out Donation Receipts

Donation receipts are written records that acknowledge a gift to an organization with a proper legal status. A registered nonprofit can issue both “official donation tax receipts” and more informal receipts.

The donation receipt lets your donors know that you received their donation. More importantly, donation receipts help your donors keep track of their finances. After all, your donors need donation receipts if they want to claim charitable donations on their tax refunds. For nonprofits, donation receipts help keep a track of financial history.

Your nonprofit can issue the donation receipt at any time of the year. However, it is a good practice to send an acknowledgment within 24-48 hours of the donation. This will assure your donor and also serve as a timely token of appreciation. The best way to achieve this is by automating the process of sending donation receipts.

With Donorbox, customized receipts get sent to donors automatically when a donation is made. You can also send fiscal year-end donation receipts to your entire donor base. When it comes to donation receipts, here are all the best practices!

Best Donation Form Examples

We have come up with a list of 4 awesome donation form examples to help you create one for your nonprofit.

1. Code for America

Code for America runs a campaign on their website to help people affected by the pandemic. Theirs is the most ideal donation form example we have for you. With a simple, recurring, well-rounded donation form, they have managed to win our hearts.

Why we love this donation form

  • The donation form is easy to find, simple, and user-friendly. To not clutter it, all the details are mentioned to the right.
  • The donation tiers cover a wide range of suggestions and hence, are convenient for every type of donor.
  • The small heart icon next to ‘monthly’ makes it easy for their donors to know the most popular and optimal donation period. It’s also the simplest way to gain some recurring donors.
  • In-honor donations enabled on the form increase donors’ engagement with the donation process as they can also notify the person being honored/ their representative through email or postal mail.

2. Harbin SHS Animal Rescue

Harbin SHS Animal Rescue works toward rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming animals from their safehouse located in Harbin, China. Their recurring donation form is simple yet well-customized for their donors’ ease and the organization’s needs.

Why we love this donation form

  • The pre-selected recurring interval helps encourage donors to give monthly.
  • The provision of multiple currencies on the donation form makes donors feel at ease with the donation procedure.
  • Displaying donation and donor comments on a donor wall means appreciating them for their kindness; that makes donors feel valued.
  • Letting donors choose the donation designation (how their donation makes an impact) builds trust in the nonprofit.

3. Mavuno

Mavuno is a 501c3 nonprofit organization in the US and a registered NGO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Why we love this donation form

  • Donorbox’s donation form is properly blended with their NGO theme.
  • The green color in the donation form signifies a lot of their mission on agribusiness development.
  • Having a pre-selected $50 as a donation amount in their form is a very good practice for any donation form to increase online donations.

4. Mission: No Limits

Mission: No Limits is a nonprofit organization that helps cancer survivors to inspire and elevate them via various adventure projects.

Why we love this donation form

  • Their donation form has 2 qualities that stand out. They have used features such as Employer donation matching and Donate in honor or in memory of someone
  • Both of these amazing features can be easily added through Donorbox.
  • Using employer donation matching, a nonprofit organization can increase donations by 2x or even 3x. Read more about how matching gifts work and how they can impact your donations.


No matter how you like to embed the donation form, remember that it’s about making it convenient and engaging for your potential/existing donors. These above-mentioned examples will help you design a simple and effective donation form for your nonprofit.

Donation Form – FAQs

1. What is an online donation form?

A donation form is a website element that you embed in your website to allow your donors to give to your nonprofit. A good donation form is neat and easy to use asking only basic information from the donors and providing multiple payment options.

2. How do I create a donation form in Donorbox?

It’s very simple to create a donation form in Donorbox, that is optimized for every device. Simply copy-paste the embedding code on your website and customize the form to receive one-time/recurring donations.

You can also add the form as a pop-up widget on your website or create a donate button and link it to your donation page created on Donorbox. Get more information here.

3. How do I create a donation form in WordPress?

You can easily embed a donation form on WordPress. All you have to do is copy the embedding code from your Donorbox campaign page and paste it on your WordPress site.

To find the step-by-step guide, click here. Alternatively, you can install the ‘Donorbox – Free Recurring Donation Form’ plugin on your WordPress website and customize it to start accepting donations. Here is the detailed step-by-step information on the same.

4. Can I embed the donation form widget on my Wix website?

It’s very easy to embed a donation form on your Wix website. All you have to do is copy the embedding code from your Donorbox campaign page and paste it on your Wix website donation page’s HTML code section. Publish the page and you’re done. Click here for a step-by-step guide and a more convenient video tutorial on Wix.

In Conclusion

Online donors are increasing fast in the fundraising world. So, do your best to make your donation form as attractive, professional, and efficient as you can. And a solution like Donorbox will help you adhere to all the best-known practices for nonprofits.

Once you sign up on Donorbox, you can start building the perfect donation experience for your donors- from customizing your donation forms, automating donation receipts, you can create a comprehensive donation cycle for their donors. Visit our nonprofit-blog for more nonprofit tips and resources.

Rebekah is the Head of the Customer Success & Intelligence team at Donorbox, ensuring nonprofits and individuals receive the best support at all times. Under her guidance, Donorbox is able to create friendly and meaningful relationships with their customers.

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