Donation Page Blues

For any non-profit web sites, the donation page (where you make the ask) is the key page on the site. Mess this page up by making it too confusing or too long and all the time and effort that you put in to informing and convincing the reader that you are the right organization goes out the window. The donation page on a non-profit site is equivalent to the checkout process on an e-commerce site. On a non-profit site, you may not leave full shopping carts but the end result is the same — lost revenue!

If you examine your site analytics (I assume you use site analytics… right?) and you see that the last page most of your visitors see before they leave your site is your donation page (and not the confirmation or receipt page), you’ve got problems.

Here are some checkpoints and questions that you should be aware of when figuring out how to improve your donation page:

  • Can I get to the donation page very easily from anywhere on the site?
  • Am I asking for the minimal amount of information that I need to get or am I making the whole process too tedious?
  • Can the entire donation process be completed in no more than three minutes?
  • Do I give a nicely formatted receipt (that meets IRS standards) as part of the transaction?
  • Do I provide a way to easily print the form and do I e-mail the form as a backup?

By the way, make sure your receipt is a single page that doesn’t use a lot of color ink. In a previous site I worked on, one of the biggest complaints we had about our receipt came from older folks and other who are against waste and extra expense. Black and white is fine here. The critical thing is the information

  • Are the giving options (e.g dollar amounts or giving methods) that I offer understandable? Have I tested the process with people outside my organization who I don’t know?

Like many other parts of a site, you should be able to test different versions of your form to find out which one works best. Design your form so you can test different versions that contains changes in stories, layouts, pre-set giving amounts (or none at all) and copy.

  • Make sure that your form has a clear, one sentence call to action such as:
    • “Help us support a hungry child”
    • “Work with us to plant trees and stop erosion in Kenya”
  • Give your potential donor an assurance of that their credit card information and other information will be protected.
  • Offer alternative ways to make payments (e.g. credit cards, EFT, check)
  • Clearly answer the question “where do I send a check?” Not everyone likes on-line donations.
  • What if I want to donate something other than dollars? (e.g stock). How do I do this?
  • Consider offering the following features:
  • sign up for recurring giving
  • collect e-mail address and opt-in
  • Donate a gift (or purchase) in someone else’s name
  • Send a gift card
  • Privacy (please do not use my name in your annual report)

And finally, for large or special circumstance donors who may want to do something other than give a one-time donation, provide information about how to contact someone in your organization who is an expert at handling their request. The higher up in the organization, the better. If they are going to donate a substantial amount to your cause, start treating them like a major donor as soon as they see the site.