12 Donation Form Best Practices to Inspire Your Online Fundraising

Having an online donation form is no longer a nice-to-have in this digital age - it's a must. But you must also ensure that your giving form and page are in tip-top shape and designed to bring in as many funds as possible. In this article, find our proven donation form best practices, check out the successful examples, and discover how to make it all possible with the right tool.

9 minutes read
12 Donation Form Best Practices to Inspire Your Online Fundraising

In today’s digital landscape, having an effective online donation form is a must.

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 and support from people everywhere. What could go wrong, right? Well, a poorly designed donation form could 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 give through your donation form. You have one shot to get it right – so make it count!

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

12 Donation Form Best Practices

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, hire a professional or bring in an experienced volunteer to draft your content. Your donation form copy should get to the point but still inspire the reader and showcase impact.

Code for America is a prime example of an organization employing short but impactful content to encourage gifts via their online 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. Plus, these forms can be easily embedded into your own website!

Learn About Donorbox Donation Forms

2. Brand Your Donation Form

Ensure that your donation form fits in with the overall look and feel of your brand and website. A donation form that coordinates well with the rest of your site shows professionalism and that you take your online fundraising seriously. It also builds confidence in your organization.

To do so, choose a donation form that you can customize easily. Use your brand’s colors. Pay attention to details, like text alignment, spacing, spelling, and grammar. These may seem like minor things but they’re still noticeable. And it all makes a difference.

Also, 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. Optimize Your Donation Form For All

It is important that your donation form is accessible by anyone, anywhere and anytime.

This includes ensuring your donation form is optimized for both mobile and desktop use, meaning it can be easily viewed and utilized on any device. This way, your donors have the same excellent giving experience whether they use their smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer to donate.

The importance of mobile giving has increased more than ever. 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 users. (Source)

You also should ensure that your donation form – and your entire website – follows accessibility guidelines that make it possible for everyone to use it, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. Website accessibility is important because it provides equal access to all of the critical information on your website. And, in turn, having an accessible and easy-to-navigate website further increases your chances of conversions.

Donorbox forms are AA-level-compliant with the accessibility standards laid out in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1Our forms follow these strict guidelines to ensure that people of all abilities are guaranteed access, with features such as color contrast, easy-to-understand labels, and keyboard navigation.


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4. Make Donation Forms Easy To Find

Potential donors will lose interest very quickly if it’s too hard to find your donation form – so many people have limited time and patience these days! Ideally, your donation form should be easily accessible from your homepage.

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

Make your donation button stand out by placing it in the top right corner of your homepage and in a color that contrasts with your website color theme.

Donorbox gives the option to add a customizable donate button to your website that directs users straight to your donation page. You can also choose to embed your Donorbox donation form directly on your website or as a pop-up.

Pro Tip: Add your donate button to the website navigation bar. Make it sticky, so that it is visible even as your website visitors scroll down the page.

5. Aim For As Few Clicks As Possible

As mentioned above, the goal is to secure the donation quickly. This means requiring limited mandatory information and ensuring 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 entire process!

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 works better than a complex, long-form. Donorbox forms offer a multi-step donation experience during which the donor –

  1. Selects or adds their donation amount and any gift details.
  2. Enters payment information.
  3. Clicks ‘Donate’!

6. Get Recurring Donors On Board Quickly

Finding donors who are willing to donate consistently should be one of your organization’s major goals – recurring donations are funds you can count on for months and years to come!

The time donors spend on setting up a recurring gift should be kept to an absolute minimum. Take Donorbox’s innovative giving form for example – all it takes is a single mouse click to set up a recurring donation. No extra info is needed to complete the process and donors will automatically receive an email with instructions on how to create their own account and manage their recurring donation plan.

Donorbox also lets nonprofits select their preferred recurring donation period and highlight it on the donation form by adding a small heart icon that catches the eye.

7. Establish Impactful Donation Tiers

Sometimes, donors want to contribute but aren’t sure what donation amounts are acceptable. Guide them by providing several varying ask amounts, empowering them to decide how much they want to give.

Start with a fairly small ask amount – we recommend using your average gift size. Then, add a handful of higher amounts that increase incrementally.

Then, add a description of what these ask amounts will cover. This shows donors the impact their gift will have, making them even more likely to give a little more once they see the difference it can make. For example, instead of just asking for $25 with no other info given, explain that $25 will cover school lunches for one child for a month.

For recurring donations, we recommend offering donors a different selection of smaller 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.

8. Only Ask for Needed Information

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 U.S. 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 this opportunity to gather intel – just don’t make it a requirement.

9. Be Upfront About Disclaimers and Policies

Donors respond better to transparent organizations. It is considered good practice to give your donors easy access to your organization’s policies. Plus, sharing these policies 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-hosted document will suffice. Try to use language that is easy to understand and avoid jargon.

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 nonprofit. So, if this applies to your organization, share the good news. You’ll get more online donations, and your donors get a tax break. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

10. Test Your Donation Form

This may seem obvious, but it is easy to underestimate the importance of thoroughly testing your donation form. 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.

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 through 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 also help keep track of giving history.

Your nonprofit can issue a 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 – if not immediately. 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

Here are two well-designed donation form examples to inspire you as you build one for your nonprofit.

 Code for America

Code for America runs a campaign on their website to help people in need who are excluded by government services.

Why we love this donation form:

  • The donation form is easy to find, simple, and user-friendly.
  • The donation tiers listed here cover a wide range of suggested ask amounts.
  • The small heart icon next to the ‘monthly’ giving option makes it easy for their donors to know the most popular and optimal donation period.
  • In-honor donations enabled on the form increase donors’ engagement with the donation process as they can also notify the person being honored.

Mission: No Limits

Mission: No Limits is a nonprofit organization that helps cancer survivors by inspiring and elevating them through various adventure projects.

Why we love this donation form

  • They have embedded their donation form seamlessly within their website, boosting donor confidence and showcasing impact through powerful imagery.
  • They have added features such as employer donation matching and tribute gifts to further expand giving options for their donors.
  • Their call to action is simple yet effective, encouraging donors to give to help cancer patients reclaim their lives.

Final Thoughts

Online fundraising is becoming more and more popular. So, you must work to make your donation form as attractive, professional, and efficient as possible. A solution like Donorbox will help you adhere to all these donation form best practices and more!

Once you sign up on Donorbox, you can start building the perfect donation experience for your donors, from customizing your donation forms to automating donation receipts. Visit our Nonprofit Blog for more nonprofit tips and resources!

Donation Form – FAQs

1. What is an online donation form?

An online 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 the most vital information from 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 customize your form and then copy-paste the embed code on your website.

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 embed 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 guide.

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 embed 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 tutorial.

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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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