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[GUEST POST] 6 Best Practices To Raise More Through Your Nonprofit’s Donation Form On Your Website

If yours is like most nonprofits, you set up a donation form on your nonprofit’s website several years back, and then promptly forgot about it.

As long as you have a way for donors to give online, that’s good enough, right?

However, investing the time into optimizing your donation form can make a huge difference in how much you raise online.

Especially now, during a time where in-person fundraising events are cancelled, it’s never been more important to ensure you have a great donation form.

So here are six best practices you can use to improve your donation form that will help you convert more (and higher level) donors:

1.  Use Donation Tiers to Optimize Gift Size on Your Donation Form

Suggested giving levels on your donation form (aka donation tiers) are typically a bit of an afterthought. Those little suggested amounts can’t make a huge difference right?

Well, the research shows that those suggested giving levels, along with descriptions of impact, can actually exert a lot of influence on your donors.

This works for three reasons:

  • A select few donation amounts make it easier for the donor to choose the amount they want to give, so it increases the likeliness they’ll complete their gift.
  • Having options to choose from tends to increase gift size because it plays on social proof: Donation tiers convey to your donors that the options they see are common gift amounts and choose a tier accordingly.
  • Impact descriptions tend to also drive higher gifts because they’re choosing an amount based on the impact they can create, rather than an arbitrary dollar amount. A survey from Charities Aid Foundation found that 68% of their respondents said that it was important to know how their donation makes an impact.

Here are some best practices for creating donation tiers for your donation form to increase gift size:

  • Don’t use too many. Four to six is just about perfect because it’s easy for donors to choose from.
  • In the same vein, keep your descriptions short and easy to read.
  • Base the amounts on your average donations. If your average donation is $75, have one tier at $75 and another at $150.
  • If you want to push donors to a specific amount, list it second in the donation tiers.
  • Customize donation tiers to specific audiences. If you have an event running with its own donation form, adjust the amounts to match your intended audience. That also means different amounts for one-time donors and recurring donors.

We’ve seen donation tiers work time and time again. For example, the Irish International Immigrant Center reported a $100 increase in average gift size when they added tiers to their form. You’ll be surprised at how you can substantially increase average gift size by simply adding donation tiers.

2.  Prioritize Recurring Donations on Your Donation Form

Recurring gifts are one of the best ways to increase the amount you raise and help make your fundraising more sustainable and consistent: In fact, recurring donors tend to give 42% more annually, and recurring donors have a 90% donor retention rate.

But how do you get recurring donations?

  • Make recurring the default option on your form. Your donors will be much more likely to make a recurring gift if they see it’s the norm (once again, social proof works in your favor here) and will be much more likely to proceed if it takes them another step to switch to a one time gift.
  • Create donation tiers that are meant to convert more recurring donors. I suggest having your recurring tiers start at about one third or one fourth of your first gift size (i.e.,: if your first donation tier for one-time gifts is $30, make your first recurring gift size $10. Many donors will choose the lower option and end up giving four times more annually.
  • Run a recurring-focused fundraising campaign designed to convert your existing one-time donors into recurring donors. Send communications to your current long-term donors who may be ready to commit to a monthly gift. It’s a great way to steward long term supporters.

Optimizing for recurring donations on your donation form helps you raise more throughout the year and drive predictable revenue growth for your nonprofit.

3.  Make Your Donation Form Mobile Optimized

If it’s hard for your donors to give on their phone, you’re missing out on donations.

Mobile giving has been a growing sector of the fundraising market for seven years now, and, according to the latest M+R Benchmark report, mobile giving revenue increased 21% in 2019.

And, here at CauseVox, we see that 65%+ of all traffic on donation pages is from a mobile device.

Making your donation form mobile-optimized is a must if you want to capture more donations. When you’re planning for a responsive design, you want to keep text at a minimum, simplify your forms (no one likes filling out page after page on their phone). Not sure how your form works on mobile? Test it out on your own phone to see what your experience is like.

Not only should your page be mobile-responsive, but you can also take it one step further by updating your donation form to accept mobile payments. With 54% of consumers using mobile wallets to make a payment in the last year, according to PaySafe, it’s the best trend to hop on to help speed up the donation process.

If donors can give with Apple Pay and don’t even have to take out their credit card, their transaction will move even faster and they’ll be much more likely to give.

4.  Improve Your Donor Velocity

Speaking of how fast it takes to complete a donation, let’s talk about donor velocity.

Donor velocity is the time it takes people to complete their donation once they are on your donation form. Less time means more donations. Longer forms mean donors are more likely to quit halfway through — and you lose out on money.

At a minimum, your donor velocity should be under 30 seconds. For best results, aim for 15 seconds or less. How do you make that happen?

  • Fewer form fields. While it’s great to get data about your donors, you don’t want it to come at the cost of losing donors. Make your donation form short and sweet. You can learn more about donors once they’ve made a gift.
  • Use smart forms. Smart forms remember your returning donors’ name, email, and postal address, so it’s already filled out for them the next time they donate. It makes it incredibly easy for donors to finish the form quickly.
  • Saved payments. If donors can save payment information on your form, they can skip the step of entering their credit card. It makes the whole process much faster.

5.  Provide an Easy Giving Experience

It’s so important that your donors have a good and easy giving experience all around.

If the process is frustrating or confusing, you will drive donors away. As you create your form, ask yourself at every step of the way “how will this feel for my donors?”

Here are a few suggestions for providing your donors with a great experience:

  • Make your donate button big and in the top level navigation on your website. There’s nothing worse than visiting a website intending to donate and having to search for the donate button.
  • Give them clear and simple instructions on the form.
  • Make it easy to find someone to call or email if they have questions about their donation.
  • Ensure donors get an automatic donation receipt so they know their gift was received and have their tax-deductible receipt right away. This makes donors 400% more likely to give again.

The easier you make it for your donors to give, not only are they more likely to complete their gift, but they’re also more likely to give again.

6.  Embed it on Your Website

The final best practice that will make your donation form more effective is choosing a form that you can embed directly onto your website.

This makes a big difference because your donors know and trust your site: They can see your branding; they don’t have to make additional clicks to head to a different website; and when they finish their gift, they’re still on your site where they can learn more or get involved in other ways.

You end up with more donations,and your donors end up with more information and connections to your organization.

Digital fundraising might seem overwhelming, but implementing these six best practices can make it more predictable and more sustainable.

Start Simple

It doesn’t take long to implement these donation form best practices, but little tweaks go a long way to helping you get more donations coming in through your website.

You don’t even have to work on all six at the same time. Simply pick the most approachable and go from there. Every improvement makes a difference.

Candace Cody is the Manager of Content + Education at CauseVox. Over the past six years, she’s worked with thousands of nonprofit professionals to help them adopt and grow digital fundraising at their organization.

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