Your donation page can make or break your nonprofit. That’s not an exaggeration. A ton of small organizations struggle to get a foothold because they forget to cover their bases. Today, that means online fundraising.
Here at Snowball, we create the quickest, easiest, free way to get all the donation page basics (plus some extras, too). We know what holds nonprofits back. There’s no reason why yours should be held back, too.
There’s no excuse for not succeeding online today. There are tons of free and affordable tools designed just for nonprofits.
We’re going to walk through how you can use your donation page to build a seriously strong foundation for your nonprofit’s online fundraising. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Incomplete donations and how they hold you back
- Golden donations and what they represent
- The role of your donation page
- How to succeed with your donation page
If your nonprofit is having a hard time online, you’re in a hurry to learn how to fix it. We’ve got you covered. Let’s get started:
Poorly designed and shoddy donation pages can become a thorn in your side without you even realizing it. How?
You’ve probably done this plenty of times yourself: started an online transaction and then (for whatever reason) didn’t finish it.
Maybe you simply changed your mind, didn’t want to spend the money. Maybe you didn’t trust the website, or maybe the website just made it way too hard to finish the transaction with annoying pop-ups or too many questions. Maybe the page didn’t work right on your phone so you couldn’t finish the transaction.
This usually happens when we’re shopping online. In these situations, it’s called shopping cart abandonment.
Now think about your own nonprofit and your donors. Are they giving up halfway through the donation? Are you giving them any reason to change their mind about supporting your cause?
We don’t like to think about our nonprofits actually driving away new donors. We prefer to think that we just need to convince them harder.
But here’s the hard truth: there’s no amount of convincing that can make your average online donor want to bother with a shoddy donation page.
Why do incomplete donations happen?
Sometimes it’s our own fault, and sometimes it’s the technology’s fault. It’s usually a combination of the two. Remember, though, that there’s no reason for incomplete donations and bad donation pages to hold you back.
Think of it this way: Once a donor clicks that ‘Donate’ button, you’ve secured their support. The donor’s process of connecting with your mission is complete, and what happens after that is entirely up to you.
So what are the things that could go wrong? What causes donors to abandon the donation page? Here are some common culprits:
- The process is too slow. Making donors complete too many steps or asking them too many questions is the easiest way to kill their generous impulse.
- The process is too complicated. Don’t make a donor think too hard about the amount they’ll give. That’s a surefire way to make a lot of people rethink the expense.
- The process just doesn’t work. A donation page that doesn’t load right or function properly will be a leading cause of incomplete donations, especially if it doesn’t work on mobile devices.
The big point here is that the donation page is what stands between you and the donor after they’ve already made up their mind to support you. The donor has made an emotional connection with your nonprofit, and anything that doesn’t support that feeling will risk ruining the donation.
What are golden donations? They’re the second donation that a donor makes to your nonprofit.
They’re incredibly important because they mean you’ve cleared a big hurdle – securing their first donation – and made a lasting emotional connection.
When donors give a second time, 63% of them will give again in the future. That’s huge!
We’ve written before about how to snag golden donations, but the big point here is that you can’t reach that level of personal connection with a donor if your donation page turns them off the first time they try to make a gift. Golden donations come from great missions and stewardship, true. But they also come from efficient, good-looking donation pages that make it easy to donate without thinking too hard about the logistics.
A really great donation page will even convince a lot of donors to put a credit card on file, something that we as consumers usually avoid or even resent. Nonprofits using Snowball donation pages have seen up to 52% of donors choosing to put a card on file.
With a donation page that makes it easy to build relationships with donors (or at least not stand in the way), you’ll be able to retain more donors and secure more golden donations.
Your Donation Page
So what role does your donation page play as your nonprofit builds relationships with donors?
There are a few ways to think about it. Your donation page is what turns prospective donors into secured supporters. It’s the essential link that lets them begin to form a concrete attachment with your organization. One thing your donation page should never be, though, is a hurdle.
Don’t think of your donation page as just a web tool for processing donations. It’s a lot more than that. Treating it like a boring but essential part of your website is what leads to a clunky page that makes donors lose their excitement for your mission.
How to Build a Perfect Donation Page
Here’s how you make a donation page that’s a real asset and not just a boring form for collecting money and data. There are three key steps you have to keep in mind. They’ll help you remember the huge role that a strong donation page can play.
- Don’t kill your donor’s buzz.
- Master the art of securing a card on file.
- Focus on recurring donors.
These steps build on one another, so once you’ve got a firm grasp on one, shift your energy to the next. Let’s walk through each step in closer detail:
1. Don’t kill your donor’s buzz.
We’ve already touched on this important point throughout the sections above. The main idea is to not kill the generous impulse that brought a donor to your donation page in the first place.
It feels good to donate to a mission you care about. Donors want to feel good about it, and they want to love your organization. Don’t do anything to slow them down or make them think too hard about money!
Here are the flat-out basics for creating an effective donation page:
- Keep it as concise as possible. Ask only for what you need, and only require an extra field when you have a good reason to.
- Ensure your branding is consistent. Your donation page has to look like the rest of your site and have your logo on it, or donors might not trust it.
- Clearly label everything. Eliminate the chance that a donor will get confused and abandon the page.
- Keep it simple. The visuals of your donation page should be streamlined and simple, no unnecessary designs, sections, or links to distract donors.
- Optimize for mobile. The majority of web traffic is via smartphones these days. Make sure your donation page works on small screens.
- Immediately thank donors. Configure your donation page to immediately direct donors to a thank you page when they’re done.
Following these best practices will help you create a donation page that gets donors in and out quickly without destroying their spark of generosity. Click here to check out our more comprehensive guide to donation page best practices.
Once you have a streamlined donation page that doesn’t ruin the donor’s experience, you’re ready to take on the next challenge.
2. Master the art of securing a card on file.
It’s a big deal when a donor decides to put their credit card on file with you. It cements the relationship. When a donor gives you their card information and wants you to save it, they’re saying two things.
- I support your mission and like donating to your nonprofit, and I plan on doing it again in the future.
- I don’t mind giving you my credit card information because I trust you and you made it easy to do so.
How you communicate your mission to potential donors comes down to your own marketing practices. That second point, though, relies on your donation page.
A streamlined, easy-to-use donation page that keeps donors excited to give is the first step to securing more cards on file. The next is making it really easy to create an account and save the card information.
But remember: Never force a donor to create an account in order to make a donation. That’s a terrible idea that will drastically increase your number of incomplete donations. A donor will be more likely to want to create an account with you if you’ve already proven how easy it is to support you.
That’s the philosophy behind our Snowball donation tools. We found that 397 out of 1,000 online donors created accounts when using Snowball donation pages. In contrast, the industry average for account creation is 0 out of 1,000 first-time donors.
Mastering the art of securing a card on file is what drives long-term relationships and long-term value for your nonprofit. If you haven’t given it much thought before, now’s the time to do it.
Pledge campaigns are a great example of how you can secure a lot of donations by just trusting your donors to follow through on their love of your mission. Check out our guide to pledge campaigns for more information.
3. Focus on recurring donors.
Now that you’ve got online donors who are happy to save their card info with you, what next? Encourage them to automate the whole process by setting up recurring donations.
More and more nonprofit organizations are beginning to shift a lot of focus and energy towards recurring donations. There are a few reasons for this:
- Recurring donations simply generate more support for your nonprofit in the long run.
- Recurring donors are more likely to stick with you than one-time donors because they’ve already made it past that ‘golden donation’.
- Recurring donors develop a much stronger personal attachment to your nonprofit because you’ve become a recurring part of their life.
- With the rise of all kinds of new subscription services, online consumers have become much more comfortable with the recurring giving model.
Every nonprofit can secure recurring donations. You just have to 1) make donors want to set up a recurring donation and 2) make it easy to do so.
Again, the first two steps listed above are what will make donors want to set up a recurring donation. Don’t even think about asking them to give monthly if it’s a hassle just to donate once!
Use donation page software or services that make it really easy for donors to set up a recurring giving option.
Snowball is the quickest, easiest, free way to get all the donation page basics plus extras.
It should be easy for nonprofits of any size or budget to create streamlined, good looking donation pages that accomplish everything we discussed above. There’s no reason today for your organization to struggle online.
Explore our homepage to learn about the fundraising tools we offer and how we can support your organization as it grows its online reach. Your donation revenue will be snowballing in no time!
No matter what kinds of tools you use, though, it all starts with making a high-performing donation page that won’t slow down your donors. Remember to always prioritize the donor’s experience above all else. Respect their time, and they’ll appreciate your organization even more.