Online Donation Platforms: What to Know Before You Buy
What are Online Donation Platforms?
Online donation software allows nonprofits to accept and process donations through online channels. Most importantly, software equips your organization with the tools to build efficient and professional online donation forms. But that’s not all!
Though features vary, the right software can give your nonprofit access to custom donation pages, automated donor data collection, and a host of other tools that will streamline your fundraising efforts from start to finish.
Types of Online Giving
How Can Nonprofits Accept Online Donations?
The most fundamental online donation element is the online donation page. Simply put, a donation page is a designated page on your website where you can accept donations.
The page usually consists of a donation form where donors input some basic information as well as their payment details. Though you can include whatever additional questions you’d like, the most effective forms are straightforward and concise.
Keep your donation page as user-friendly as possible by limiting required fields and cutting out any distractions. With the help of your software, you’ll also want to brand this page to match the rest of your website. Your donors need to trust that this is really your organization they’re interacting with!
Mobile Giving Platforms
Mobile giving platforms make it possible for donors to donate using smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. The convenience of mobile giving allows donors to make a donation wherever and whenever.
Taking advantage of mobile giving can be as simple as ensuring your donation page is mobile-optimized (that is, it looks just as good and functions just as well on a smartphone as it does on a laptop).
You can also utilize more dedicated mobile giving methods, like text-to-give services. Different software providers offer various methods for making mobile donations, so find a provider that fits your goals.
To learn more, check out Snowball’s mobile giving tools!
Email Donation Buttons
Nonprofits can also request and accept donations through email. Email donations usually include buttons with pre-set giving amounts.
These buttons will either direct the donor to a web page where they can complete the donation process or enable the donor to confirm the donation entirely through email.
Donation buttons make a great addition to your nonprofit newsletters. You can inspire supporters with updates and enable them to make a donation, all in one place.
What Are the Benefits of Online Giving For Nonprofits and Donors?
Benefits for Nonprofits
Automated Donor Data Collection
When your donation pages are integrated with your other fundraising tools, all your data will be centralized and accessible across all platforms.
Quickly Raise Money
Online donation platforms make donating possible with just a few clicks. The tool’s simplicity helps donors overcome giving barriers and lets you raise more funds.
Lower Donor Abandonment Rates
Having intuitive, user-friendly online donation software will reduce the number of donors that abandon the donation process midway.
Benefits for Donors
Multiple Ways to Donate
Online giving allows your supporters make contributions in a way that’s convenient for them, be that through texting, email, a web page, or another method entirely!
Convenient Donation Process
Online donations make it easy for donors to contribute, because the process doesn’t require many steps and donors can give wherever they are.
With proper online donation software, donors can be confident that their credit card and personal information is safe and secure when they go through the giving process.
What Are The Best Online Donation Software Providers?
Online Giving For Nonprofits
Snowball is the perfect solution for nonprofits’ online donation needs. The goal at Snowball is to make online giving quick, easy, and secure.
We’ve designed our software with donors in mind. While the average nonprofit has a donor abandonment rate of 60%, but only 20% of donors abandon donation forms powered by Snowball.
That’s because we have created a process that makes giving simple. Donors can give through email or mobile without having to enter their payment information every time and without having to create or remember an account.
When donors return to make a donation, all they have to do is select the donation amount and then click to confirm. The steps for making a donation are drastically reduced, making the process easier for donors (and more profitable for your organization!).
Online Giving For Individuals
Fundly enables individuals to meet their fundraising goals through the power of crowdfunding. Through their adaptable and user-friendly platform, you can raise money for charity, personal projects, or virtually any other fundraising need.
Fundraisers can set up custom campaign pages complete with photos, videos, and social sharing features. Post updates on your own blog, interact with supporters, and most importantly, accept donations from everyone you know—all on one personalized fundraising page!
Not to mention, Fundly’s team is dedicated to ensuring your campaign’s success. They’ll be there for you every step of the way to provide support should you hit any fundraising roadblocks.
And, if you need a little inspiration to get your campaign going, Fundly has all the fundraising resources you could need right there on their website.
Matching Gifts for Online Giving
While not technically an online donation platform, Double the Donation offers products and services to help organizations raise even more money.
Matching gifts is a type of corporate giving program where companies will match the donations made by employees (and sometimes retirees).
Double the Donation offers a tool, which can be added to a nonprofit’s donation page that allows donors to search for their company’s matching gift program. That way, a donor is able to see if their gift is matching gift-eligible and what steps they need to take to submit a request.
What’s more? Double the Donation’s tool can be added to your website to provide donors with more information on how they can support your nonprofit.
Incorporating this tool on your donation pages, can help promote matching gifts so that your nonprofit can raise double the funds!
Will I Need To Pay For An Online Donation Tool?
When You Can Use Free Online Donation Software
Free software can be useful if you’re just starting out or are in need of software quickly. Since free software is so easy to install, your nonprofit can download it on everyone’s computer and start using it immediately.
Using free software is also a smart way to figure out what features your nonprofit needs. As you play around with free software, you may get a better understanding of what tools are really necessary to meet your fundraising goals (and which features aren’t).
When It's Time to Upgrade Your Online Donation Software
While free software may be an acceptable solution for organizations just starting out, most nonprofits will find more value in paid software. Purchasing software can open up the door to a world of additional tools for your organization to use.
If you need a more expansive, customized set of fundraising resources, you’ll likely want to find a vendor who can offer you a comprehensive product. Plus, a vendor will be able to offer personalized support and training.
How Do I Find the Right Online Donation Platform?
Before You Buy Online Donation Software
Included Software Features
As you start to compare different online donation software, it’s important to know what features you want. All software won’t provide the same features.
Consider your donor’s needs as well. Do they want a text-to-give option? If so, that should be a feature you look for when choosing a software provider.
Ease of Use
Find online donation software that is easy to use for your nonprofit and the donor. As you look for online donation software, make sure you can view a demo or try the software before you buy.
The steps you find confusing will probably confuse your donors too. If the vendor can’t simplify the process, you should consider choosing another provider.
Level of Customization
The amount of customization a software allows is an important factor to consider. You should have a form that matches your brand, so donors don’t question if they’re in the right place.
Online donation software with fewer limitations gives your nonprofit the freedom to create a donation form that meets all of your needs.
In general, all payment processing works in a similar way. Software providers offer slight variations in processing fees and the amount of time it takes to receive funds.
Before you pick any online donation software, your nonprofit should go through the steps of payment processing to make sure the time and fees are within your needs.
When You’re Ready to Purchase Online Donation Software
After you’ve done your research and narrowed your search down to one or two providers, it’s time to reach out!
Contact your potential vendors directly either through their website or by calling their offices. Usually, they’ll follow up with your initial contact to find out more about your organization’s needs and how their software might fit in.
If you have any questions or apprehensions, now is a good time to speak one-on-one with a representative from the vendor’s team and find out even more about the tools they offer.
Once you’ve gotten in contact with the vendor, schedule a demo so you can see the software in action.
A demo is a perfect opportunity to learn how the product’s features actually work, and to get a grasp on the software’s user-friendliness (or lack thereof!).
Even if the product seems perfect on paper, a demo can help you get a feel for what using these tools will be like for your staff on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your provider about specific tools, too!
If you feel confident that this is the product for you, it’s time to get specific about the tools and features you want access to.
Most providers offer multiple product packages at different price points. While smaller nonprofits may only need access to the most basic levels, a larger organization may want to take advantage of a premium package.
Ensure that you’re clear on the differences at each level, and that the products you need fit within your budget.
When you’ve found the right product and are ready to make it official, there’s only one last hurdle to jump: getting the thumbs-up from your organization’s stakeholders!
Before you sign any contracts or submit any payments, double-check that your entire team is on board with such a purchase. Software is a major investment, so take the time to go over the new product with your staff and your board.
Once everyone is on the same page with your purchase, the final step is easy: read and sign the contract your vendor has provided, and get started with your awesome new software!