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 card. So, we’ve put together a list of best practices for your donation form, as recommended by industry experts. Let’s get started.
1. Keep It Simple
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:
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 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 colours. 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.
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.
4. Make It 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.
Pro-Tip: Add your donation form 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.
6. Get Recurring Donors On-Board Quickly
Finding donors who are willing to donate consistently is 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.
7. Offer Various Amount Options and Recurring Intervals
Sometimes, donors want to contribute but aren’t sure what 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 a 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 donations, and your donors get a tax break. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
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 donation form may not try again. So your goal should be to give them a smooth user experience the first time around.
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 payments 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.
Online donors are a limited resource 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. Try our advice and see how much more donations you can attract.