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8 Best Practices for Building an Online Donation Page

Have you ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture without instructions? It can be incredibly frustrating--you have all of the pieces in front of you, and you know they all go together somehow, but you have no idea how. 

You might have a similar feeling about building an online donation page. You probably have an idea of what a good donation form looks like, but you might need some help putting all of the pieces together.

That’s where this article comes in!

We’re going to cover eight of the best practices for building an online donation page and why they’re so important.

Let’s get started! And for twenty extra tips, check out Qgiv’s guide to donation forms

qgiv1.png1. Don’t Hide Your Donation Page

If you want donors to give online, you have to let them know where your online donation page is!

As The GuideStar Blog has preached beforeMake sure that all-important link to your ‘Donate Now’ landing page is visible...Make it as easy as possible for them to donate.

You can’t expect donors to use your online donation page if they don’t know how to access the form!

Include a link to your donation page:

  • At the top of your homepage.
  • Within all of your blog posts.
  • In side and top navigation menus.
  • On your “Ways to Give” page.
  • Above the fold of your entire website.
  • And anywhere else it should be visible!

However you choose to display a “Donate Now” button or include a link, make sure that it is easy for visitors to find or see. They should know exactly how to give to your cause within seconds of landing on one of your pages.

Find what works best for your existing website’s layout and promote your donation page accordingly.

Your nonprofit should also actively promote your donation page on social media, in emails, and through other digital communications.

Why this is important: People who want to give to your cause will inevitably find their way to your website for more information. They’ll be looking for a way to support you. Give them an easy way to contribute by prominently displaying your “Donate Now” button or donation page link.

Bonus tip: Check out GuideStar’s 5 keys to an effective online fundraising campaign!

qgiv2.png2. Remind People of Why They Want to Donate

Your donation page should inspire and encourage people to give to your organization.

It shouldn’t feel like a payment processing form with no hint of philanthropy whatsoever.

Instead, your donation form should gently remind people why they’ve decided to give to your organization.

Let’s look at an example:


The top of the Big Brother Big Sisters of Northern New Jersey’s donation form includes a short paragraph explaining the importance of donating. The second paragraph gives donors contact information in case they have questions.

The BBBS of Northern New Jersey also includes a heartwarming image at the top of their donation form.

If you can, give donors an idea of what their contributions are going toward by placing an picture of the people, animals, or communities you help on your donation page.

Why this is important: Reminding donors why they want to give increases the chances that they’ll make it to the end of the donation page. Keep your copy short, though, and only include one image to maintain a clean-looking donation page and prevent donors from getting distracted.

qgiv4.png3. Maintain Consistent Branding

Your nonprofit’s website already has a consistent look and feel to it. Whether you use a certain font, particular colors, or similar images on all of your pages, your nonprofit’s brand is evident to donors as they scroll and click through the various pages on your site.

Why would you abandon that branding when building your online donation page?

Darian Rodriguez Heyman recently wrote on this very topic, claiming that,

"The data proves what we all know in our guts: nobody likes to feel like they’re leaving your website once they hit that donate button. So be sure to keep the look and feel of your donate page consistent with your website and other communication materials and ensure your logo remains visible throughout the giving experience."

Consistent branding shows your donors that you want to offer them a great giving experience. It demonstrates that you care about the donation process and want to make it as easy as possible for your donors.

Why this is important: Consistent branding not only makes your donation page look better, it also shows your donors that their donations are going to your organization, not just a random donation page. Donors can give with the peace of mind that their information will be safe.

qgiv6.png4. Keep Donor Info Secure

You should already be safeguarding any donor information you collect. Over half of donors say that a fear of information being sold or exchanged is what keeps them from giving online.

This essentially boils down to a lack of trust; they don’t feel secure giving online, so they choose not to do it at all.

And while you can’t force donors to put their confidence in your organization and your donation page, you can reassure them by placing security logos and certifications on your donation page.

qgiv7.pngFor instance, GuideStar lets donors know that their data is secure just below the donation button.

When clicked, the “Learn More” link leads donors to a page that gives them more in-depth information about the form’s security features.

Additionally, you should add information about PCI Compliance to your donation form:

This nonprofit displays a PCI Certified logo next to the “Make Donation” button:


Maintaining PCI (Payment Card Industry) Compliance simply means that the donation page is up to code with the payment card industry’s standards (learn more about those here).

Why this is important: Donors are far less likely to donate if your donation page doesn’t reassure them of their data security. Make sure that your form has some kind of security information, logo, or certification.

qgiv9.png5. Suggest Recurring Donations

How are your donor retention rates looking these days? If you’re like the majority of nonprofits, they’re probably around 40%, meaning that 6 out of 10 donors are giving once and then never giving again.

While there are numerous best practices for boosting those slumping donor retention rates, one of the easiest is to offer recurring donations as an option on your donation page.

Take a look at an example from GuideStar’s donation form: When a donor first arrives on the page, they are given the option to make a one-time payment or an ongoing donation.


When opened, the ongoing donation drop-down box reveals options for a monthly or an annual payment plan:


Having this option on your donation page allows donors to automatically make donations without having to log back onto your donation page or send off a check.

Let’s look at one more example:colorado_final.jpg

This nonprofit allows donors to make contributions: weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

When you offer recurring donations on your donation form, you not only make it easier for donors to give again and again (boosting your retention rate), but, on average, donation amounts increase.

You may never receive a major gift through your online donation page, but if donation sizes are increasing and donation retention rates are rising, you’ll still see fundraising success.

Why it’s important: Offering recurring donations can boost donor retention rates and average gift sizes. Including an option on your donation form for recurring donations can also make giving easy for your donors!

qgiv12.png6. Offer Different Giving Amounts

Giving your supporters the chance to choose their donation amount can actually increase the average gift size.

Wondering how?

It actually makes a lot of sense.

Let’s say that Danny Donor reaches your online donation page with the intention of giving $25.

Instead of having a blank field for Danny to fill in his donation amount, you list out amounts of $20, $30, $50, and so on. You also have an “Other” field where he can type in a custom amount.

Danny Donor might choose to give his $25 and hit “Make Donation.” But there’s a high likelihood that, instead, he will select $30. It’s just five more dollars, and he’s feeling extra charitable today.

Multiply this process across all of your online donors, and you can see how easy it is to raise a lot of money simply by offering donation amounts.

Let’s take a look at an example from GuideStar:qgiv13.png

As you can see, GuideStar offers different giving levels but doesn’t forget to include an “Other” field for donors who want to give another amount.

Check out this example donation form:


This nonprofit includes information about how each donation will help their cause and also includes an “Other” field, just like GuideStar.

Why it’s important: Offering different giving levels not only allows your donors to see what specific amounts can go toward. It also has the potential to increase average donation sizes!

qgiv16.png7. Make it Mobile

Mobile fundraising is quickly becoming an easy ways for donors to give to causes and organizations they care about. It encompasses a wide range of fundraising avenues (most notably text-to-give), but it’s also incredibly important for when you’re building your online donation page!

Your donors aren’t just accessing your donation page on their desktops and laptops. They’re also finding it on their smartphones and tablets and other mobile devices.

Does your donation form look just as good on these devices as it does on a laptop or desktop screen?

It’s crucial that your donation page is mobile-responsive so that donors don’t have to pinch, swipe, and zoom just to make a contribution.

Otherwise, they might get frustrated and abandon the donation process completely!

Let’s take a look at an example.

This is a nonprofit’s normal donation page:


And here is the same organization’s mobile-responsive donation form:

See how the mobile version is much more vertically oriented and has large, easy to press buttons?

In both cases, the branding is consistent, reassuring mobile and non-mobile donors that the donations are going to the right nonprofit.

This page is a perfect example of a form that looks great on any device.

Why it’s important: Many of your donors are making donations on their mobile devices. Make supporting your organization easy for them with a mobile-responsive donation page.


Say Thank You

Just because a donor decides to make a contribution online doesn’t mean your nonprofit’s job is finished. You’ve attracted a donor to your donation page and have helped them through the giving process, but you still have to promptly and genuinely acknowledge the donation and follow up with the supporter.

In fact, online donation pages can streamline the acknowledgement process a bit more. With some platforms, a donation receipt is automatically generated and sent to the donor’s email address immediately after a contribution is made.

This takes some (but not all) of the pressure off your organization.

You should still send out emails and letters thanking donors for their contributions. You can even give them a call to add a personal touch!

Why it’s important: You should always be sending out donor acknowledgements, but they’re especially important for online donations!


What about your nonprofit? What elements have you incorporated into your online donation page? Which ones worked well and which ones didn’t? Let me know in the comments!

abby_jarvis.jpegThe preceding is a guest post by Abby Jarvis, 
blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. 
Topics: Donations Online Donations