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Online Donation Forms: A Nonprofit’s Actionable Guide

What Are Online Donation Forms for Nonprofits?

An online donation form allows your nonprofit to accept donations through a web portal.

Usually, a donor can access a donation form on your organization’s website. If your nonprofit wants to add a donation form to your site, you will need the help of online donation software.

Learn more about effective online donation forms.

Table of Contents

Features of Effective Online Donation Form Software


User Friendly

Mobile Responsive

Customization is a feature that offers you more flexibility to design and map out your donation form.

With more flexibility, your nonprofit can create online donation forms that are consistent with the rest of your branding. You’ll also be able to alter key elements such as the number of fields a donor has to fill out.

Most of the installation and initial creation of the donation form should be handled by the provider.

Once you have your form all set up, the platform should be easy to use after you understand all the basic functions. When the form is up and running, you won’t have to spend an excessive amount of time with upkeep.

To have an effective donation form, you need to create a form that works well on computers and mobile devices.

Mobile-responsive donation forms will adjust to fit the screen size of the device, making the form easier to fill out. Since our phones are with us all the time, a mobile-responsive donation form makes giving more convenient.

How Online Donation Forms Fit into Fundraising

Reach a Wider Audience

Share Across Multiple Platforms

Accepting donations online increases your nonprofit’s chances of getting donations because you’re offering donors more ways to give.

With more donating options, your nonprofit may even expand your donor base because new donors may be compelled to make a gift once you’ve made the process easier.

Your nonprofit can share online donation forms across your communication channels to easily lead donors to a donation form.

As you share your donation form, donors can give at a moment’s notice when their desire to donate is strong. Instead of mailing donations, donors can follow the link and give on the spot.

Collect Donor Data

Track Results Easier

Online donation form software makes it easy to collect data from your donors. When you have software that integrates, the information you gather during the donation process can be filtered back into your main database.

With that data at your fingertips, you can more readily gather information about a donor’s preferred giving channel or their average gift amount. With a more comprehensive understanding of your donors, you can design fundraising strategies with donors in mind.

Tracking fundraising results is easier with the help of your online donation form software because you can integrate with your existing fundraising software. Collect different metrics such as the number of completed donations and visitors to your donation page.

When you have all the information funneling to the same place, you have a better understanding of your form’s success. Then, you can make adjustments based on the information you collected.

How to Design a Page

Keep Your Forms Simple

Why It’s Important

Imagine the frustration of filling out a donation form that’s hard to understand or requires too much information to complete.

Your donation form should look simple so that donors can easily understand how to fill it out.

Try out Fundly’s donation from templates for inspiration!

How to Implement It

With online donation form software, you can create a donation form that is simple and easy to use for donors.

Make sure that your form’s questions follow an order that makes sense. For example, you wouldn’t want the payment information to come before the donor’s personal details (name, email, and phone number).

This donation form example shows different giving tiers.

Stick to One Page

Why It’s Important

Donors may abandon your donation form if the giving process is too long.

Keeping your donation form to one page helps ensure that giving is concise and quick. Plus, donors will appreciate being able to easily see what they need to complete and estimate how long it will take.

How to Implement It

To keep your donation page brief, only include fields that are needed, like the donor’s name and payment information.

If you want to collect additional information, make it a field that isn’t required.

Donation forms should stick to one page.

Match Your Donation Page to Your Brand

Why It’s Important

Your organization has worked hard to create a memorable brand. If your donation form doesn’t represent that, then there will be a disconnect.

Imagine a donor that gets redirected to a different website or directed to a form that doesn’t match your branding. The uncertainty may cause donors to abandon your form.

How to Implement It

Online donation form software will let you create a form that matches your branding and includes your color scheme, name, and logo at the top.

In the image, Folds of Honor has incorporated their logo into the donation form and used the same color scheme throughout.

Your donation form should match your nonprofit's brand.

Get Creative With Your Donate Button

Why It’s Important

Hitting the donate button is the click that confirms a donation. When you create a donate button that has unique language, donors get a final reminder that their gift is about to have an important impact on your organization.

How to Implement It

Instead of going with something traditional like “Submit,” go with something that is more accurate to donating.

Use a phrase like “Donate Now! or “Submit Your Gift!” to create a confirmation that matches the donor’s action.

You can create unique donate buttons with PayPal alternatives.

Donor-Friendly Form Tips

Build a Responsive Layout

Limit the Number of Steps

Donors aren’t just accessing your website through a computer. That’s why it’s so important to build a form that is responsive. Responsive design means that your form will change depending on the device being used to view it.

For example, if a donor is accessing your donation form on a smartphone, they will see the form in a smaller (sometimes simplified) version. Having your form accessible on many platforms makes the process of giving easy no matter what device the donor decides to use.

Having a donation form with too many steps makes the process take even more time, giving donors more opportunities to change their minds halfway through.

The donation process should only take 3-4 steps. First, donors should pick a donation amount and then enter in their personal information. The next steps will vary depending on your donation form, but the last step should be confirming the donation.

Make Setting Up an Account Optional

Let Donors Share Their Gift on Social Media

When donors are required to set up an account, it creates an additional step that not every donor wants to complete.

While some donors may want save all their information for future donations, other donors might be deterred by the more involved process.

By making this step optional, you can please all your donors. Alternatively, you can use a system that doesn’t require donors to remember a password to access their accounts, better known as a password alternative.

Allowing donors to share their contributions can help build your outreach organically. 

The donor will feel like a hero, and the supporting words from their friends and relatives may encourage them to donate again.

By showcasing their gift on social media, donors are also inspiring the people in their network to get interested in your nonprofit. Check out some social media templates!

Donation Form Fields

Offer Donation Giving Levels

Why It’s Important

Donors don’t always know how much to give to a nonprofit.

By providing your donors with a few suggested giving amounts, donors can quickly click on the amount they feel comfortable giving and continue with the donation process.

Plus, giving buttons can increase donation amounts because donors know how much they’re expected to give.

How to Implement It

Pick online donation form software that allows you to create preset donation amounts (along with a field for a custom donation amount).

Include a few high and low amounts so that there is an option for every donor.

Offer different giving levels on your donation form.

Include Recurring Giving as an Option

Why It’s Important

While recurring donors may give smaller individual gifts, over time, their support adds up to much more.

Plus, recurring donations save donors’ time because they don’t have to remember to make a donation; the process is done for them!

How to Implement It

If you decide to implement recurring giving, make sure that donors know that option is available. Place the option in a prominent location, like right after the donor enters their payment information.

Provide your donor with different scheduled giving options, like monthly or quarterly, so they can set up a plan that works best for them.

Include recurring giving on your online donation form.

Show Donors The Form Is Secure

Why It’s Important

Letting donors know that their payments are secure in your online donation form should be a priority.

When donors give, they want to know that your nonprofit is taking precautions to protect their information.

How to Implement It

Software providers have many levels of security to ensure that your nonprofit’s and the donor’s information stay safe. PCI-compliance is the most essential of these measures.

PCI-compliant companies follow a strict set of standards set by the Payment Card Industry. Show donors who powers the form so that they can feel reassured about their gifts.

Show donors that their gifts are secure on your donation form.

Ask Questions But Not Too Many

Why It’s Important

The donation form is a great place to learn more about your donor and how they found out about your organization.

To do so, your nonprofit can ask relevant questions. Ultimately, the questions you ask will all depend on your organization and the kind of information you want to track.

How to Implement It

While asking a few questions is okay, be aware of your donors’ time. Asking too many questions will probably cause them to abandon the donation process halfway through.

You can also make your questions optional fields so the donor can fill them out at their discretion.

Ask donors how they found out about your nonprofit on your online donation form.

Questions to Ask a Donor Form Software Vendor

What capabilities does the software offer?

How do you know if your software better than PayPal?

How much of the form is customizable?

Knowing your software’s capabilities will give you an idea of the types of donation forms you can create. Some providers will have a limited number of functions while others may offer a wide range.

Quick tip: Create a list of the features that are most important to your organization before you start searching. That way, you can cross off providers that don’t meet your needs.

As you begin your search, you may find that PayPal’s donation feature might be a good option. Asking providers what makes their software stand out from PayPal will allow you to compare the two.

Quick tip: Do your research. PayPal’s donation feature has some limitations (like limited customization and additional processing fees) that may be deal breakers for your nonprofit.

Depending on your nonprofit’s needs, your level of customization might be just changing the form’s colors to match your brand, or it could mean more complicated adjustments, such as custom fields.

Quick tip: If you’re still unsure about what elements can be customized, tell the provider how you envision your form to look, and see if the software can make that possible.

Is this donation form secure?

Do you provide technical support?

How much is it going to cost?

A donation form with proper security ensures that you and your donors’ information stays secure. Your provider may offer different types of security, like email or 2-factor authentication.

Quick tip: Look for a vendor that allows donors to create an account without a password. Since passwords can be easily compromised, using alternative credentials can keep your donors’ sensitive data even more protected.

Choose a software provider that offers good technical support. Whenever you have problems, you can seek the help of your support team instead of trying to fix the problem yourself.

Quick tip: See if you can find reviews from other nonprofits who have worked with the software provider you’re considering. Having technical support is different from having good technical support.

Many different factors play into the price of online donation form software, and the cost listed on the website may not always be the final price. Before you buy, make sure your nonprofit understands all the costs.

Quick tip: You will find free donation form software, but be careful. While the software is free, you might have to pay for additional features like technical support.

How to Purchase Donation Form Software

1. Contact the vendor

Contact the vendor for a quote on donation form software.

Once you’ve decided on a donation form software, contact the vendor by phone or request more information on their website.

The provider will then schedule a phone conversation with you to get to know your organization better and access your needs. At the end of the call, the provider will recommend some solutions and guide you towards your next steps.

2. Request a demo

Request an online donation form software demo.

Seeing a demo of the software in action is your next step. The provider will walk you through the demo, giving you opportunities to ask questions.

If you’re still unsure about the software, you can request a trial run, where you can play around with the features. At this stage, ask any other lingering questions your nonprofit might have.

3. Sign the contract

Sign the contract for your online donation form software.

Now that all your concerns are resolved and you and your nonprofit are happy with the product, it’s time to make your purchase!

In this step, the provider will send you a contract detailing all the terms of your purchase. After you look over your contract and sign, the provider can get started on making your donation forms.

4. Implement the software

Implement the online donation form software into your nonprofit.

After your nonprofit signs the contract, the provider will give you access to the donation form software. The level of involvement your provider has in creating the donation form all depends on the vendor.

Don’t forget to let donors know about your online donation forms by sharing them on social media, email, and your website.

How the Right Software Can Lower Donor Abandonment Rates

The Problem

The Solution

Donors have to create an account to make a donation.

Let’s face it: requiring donors to set up an account is tricky. On one hand creating and remembering a password can be frustrating (not to mention insecure), but on the other hand, having your donors’ information on file makes additional donations quick and simple.

By using a passwordless login option, donors get the ease and convince of an account without the security concerns and frustrations of a password.

Snowball’s software, for instance, uses a secure email authentication technology that doesn’t require donors to create a password. Donors simply authorize payments using their primary email accounts. 

Bonus! Want more ways you can improve the login process? Check out our article on password and username best practices.

The requested donation amount is too open ended.

Find online donation software that provides preset donation amounts. Donor can click on the donation amount and spend less time figuring out how much to give.

Plus, preset donation amounts encourage donors to give more. For example, if a donor expecting to give $5 sees a $10 option, they are more likely to pick the $10 option because they won’t have to enter their own amount.

You can adjust the dollar amounts so that there is a variety of high and low giving amounts.

It takes too many clicks to confirm a donation.

If a donor has to make multiple clicks to reach the end of a donation form, you’re giving your donor more opportunities to abandon your form. Creating a from with as few steps as possible is the best solution.

With Snowball, online donation forms are short and stick to one page. The donation process is made even easier with 2-click donations; they only require two steps to confirm a donation.

The donation form isn’t mobile friendly.

Giving your donors more options results in more donations. Donors will have a convenient way to give, making the process easier for them.

Choose a software provider that offers a mobile-friendly version of your online donation form. Some software providers offer other convenient ways to donate, like Snowball’s text-to-give feature, where a donor just has to text a donation amount and confirm by email. 

Additional Resources

Charity Auctions Guide

Free Fundraising Software Providers

Top PayPal Alternatives

Still looking to maximize donations? Why not try a charity auction? Check out this event guide for more help!

Fundraising is the backbone of nonprofits as they rely on it heavily to raise money so picking a good provider is important!

Many nonprofits are missing out on expert features because they’re using PayPal. Check out our list of top alternatives to help you raise more!