19 Ways to Raise More Money From Donation Pages

What makes a kick-ass donation page? Is it the words? Images? Where buttons and fields are located?

The short answer is yes. Together, these elements must convey enough emotional punch and urgency to inspire people to donate.

Your donation pages reflect your brand

Your community is totally unique, so slapping the latest best practice on your donation page just won’t cut it.

You have to understand your community first, then get super-clear about objectives. Only then should you start designing your donation pages. Seth Giammanco of Minds On Design Lab says “the donation experience is a direct expression of your brand.”

19 tips to get more money from your donation pages

Here are 19 quick tips for improving your donation pages:

  1. Ditch the vintage PayPal button – Yes, it has that nostalgic 90s look and feel, we all love. But it’s for amateurs. Get rid of it! Steve Heye, Manager of Technology at The Cara Program adds “Establish a professional and secure setting, make your audience feel safe giving personal and financial info. A quick way to lose people is having a donation page that looks like it was created in your garage.”
  2. Write a powerful headline – Focus attention with a compelling and concise headline that states the outcome. Malaria No More does this very well.
    malaria no more
  3. Use less words – Only focus on your story and your call-to-action. A good practice is to take your first draft and cut the word count in half. Check out how Girl Effect gets right to the point!girl-effect
  4. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences – No one reads the text on landing pages. They scan it. Then, if they’re interested they’ll take a minute or two to read it.
  5. Use pictures – You know your stories are worth 1000 words each. But expecting someone to read 1,000 words while Twitter and Facebook notifications ring in their ears, is completely unrealistic. That’s why you use pictures! But not just any picture, a compelling picture that tells a story. Like the one below from Invisible Children.invisible-children
  6. Use white space to direct the eye – White space at the margins will help direct your visitor to the center of the page and downward, like in the example from charity:water below.charity-water
  7. Remove the sidebars and navigation menu – When someone is on your donation page, you’ve got their attention for a very limited time. Allyson Kapin of Rad Campaign says “suppress all navigation so donors don’t get distracted by it and instead focus on making the actual donation. This will increase conversions. Link the logo back to the main homepage.”
  8. Reduce steps to donate – You will raise less money if you make people take too many steps in the donation process. And why would you want to raise less money? Ritu Sharma of Social Media 4 Nonprofits recommends: “Make it easy for people to donate without having them jump through hoops. Reduce the number of steps and clicks throughout the entire transaction. Don’t collect more information than you can need – name, billing address, donation amount and credit card details.”
  9. Only ask for what’s required – Remember, making a donation requires filling out a lot of fields. Name, address, credit card info are required in most cases, asking for more just increases the likelihood they’ll get frustrated and leave. So less IS more – more donations! Ephraim Gopin recommends “one page, one form, KISS. No one has time for a long form.”
  10. Write copy in second person narrative – The word “you” (second-person pronoun) directly addresses the reader, and makes the privilege of donating about them, not about your organization. In fact, try to avoid talking about your nonprofit with the words “we” and “us”. Talk about the greater cause – the one where the donor is changing the world. For example, “You can make a difference in a child’s life today.”
  11. Pick one call to action – If you’re looking for donations, don’t ask people to follow you on Twitter. Don’t ask them to like your Facebook page.Look at this way: You’ve got one shot on donation pages. Will it be the donation, or the new follower on Twitter? Remove every other call to action, aside from donating or getting more information on donating.
  12. Repeat the CTA three times – Make sure you ask three times. For example, “You can make it difference in the lives of a child” in the first paragraph, followed by “…stand with these kids today” in the second paragraph, and then “make a difference now” in the last paragraph. Both ask (call) the visitor to take action. This applies to e-mail marketing too.
  13. Use bullet points and numbered items – Bullet points are extremely humble little creatures. But they subconsciously convey two powerful messages: “You will be getting several things here” and “These things will be very specific”. What are your top three most recent outcomes? What items are purchased with donations? What impact will happen after someone donates? Make these lists stand out with bullet points to list these items.
  14. Use big fonts – A Study conducted by Stamford confirmed that font size influences trust. 16 point or bigger.
  15. Use big buttons – Amnesty International found that bigger donation buttons help convert more donors.
  16. Keep it above the fold – Keep the important stuff above the fold (area of browser that’s visible without scrolling down).
  17. Make it mobile – More and more of your supporters are visiting your website from their smart phones and tablets (Google Analytics shows you great detail about your mobile traffic). This can mean a decrease in donations if your donation pages aren’t mobile. Zan McColloch-Lussier, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement at Food Lifeline says “Make it mobile responsive, as donors are coming from the emails they’ve read on their mobile devices.”
  18. Optimize your donation pages for search engines – Make sure the title tags and description include popular keywords people use when searching for information about the cause.
  19. Create a seamless donor experience across all marketing channels – Maintain the same branding throughout the donation process. In your email campaign template, in your direct mail piece, one your Facebook custom tab, and on your donation page. This can easily be done by using the same images, copy, colors, and fonts across all touch points.

What else would you add?

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John Haydon