5 Donation Page Blunders That Kill Fundraising Response Rates

The latest research from M+R looks under the hood at how 105 various nonprofits raise money online.

They found that while email metrics (open and click rates) are down, email fundraising is up (email revenue grew by 25% in 2015).

To summarize, the three most important factors that influence email fundraising response rates:

  • List growth: More emails means more people receiving your fundraising messages.
  • Message volume: More asks means more revenue.
  • Donation page conversion rates: Even a slight increase can be huge in terms of revenue.

M+R also took a closer look at the three factors that influence response rates for email fundraising: Open rates, click-through rates, and donation page conversion rates.

They found the strongest positive correlation between response rates and donation page conversion rates.

Why your donation page matters most

When someone visits your donation page, it’s a precious and rare moment simply because it’s the moment people will take out their wallet (or not).

It’s not enough to have a picture of a hungry baby with a PayPal button. Donors are not robots. You have to hold their hand throughout the entire donor experience.

In other words, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.


Here are 5 common donation page blunders you want to avoid:

1. Your Donation Page Isn’t Mobile

OK, it is 2016 and mobile websites have been a thing for several years now. So you’ve probably heard this one before.

In short, the mobile experience can hurt or help your conversion rates. Most giving platforms are mobile and tend to  look beautiful on an iPhone, Android, etc.

Check out this example from Action Against Hunger:


Nice and clean, right?

Visit your donation page from your smartphone to see how it looks. Do you have to pinch to zoom in? Are the forms easy to fill out? Do the images load quickly on your phone? If not, make fixing it your top priority before year-end!

2. You’re Missing a Hook

The only reason someone has arrived on your donation page is because they felt something.

Maybe you sent an email with a powerful story that moved them to click. But if your donation page is missing that emotional hook, you’ll be taking the wind out your donor’s sail at the precise moment that it matters most.

Instead, keep emotions hot with a hook that engages the donor, like this example from Pencils of Promise:pencils-of-promise-donation-page

3. Your Message is Inconsistent

Another big blunder with many donation pages is message inconsistency. This often happens when a single donation page is used for all fundraising campaigns, regardless of the fundraising message.

Imagine crafting a powerful email campaign about a family impacted by hurricane Matthew, but linking to a donation page with no mention of supporting families impacted by the hurricane. A big disconnect!

It’s like a bloodhound diligently following a scent, but freaking out when the scent is suddenly lost. Make sure you leave a “scent” for donors throughout the entire giving experience.

4. Too Many Distractions

When someone is on your donation page, you’ve got their attention for a very limited time. Don’t dilute your ask with less important action calls (follow us on Twitter, join our email list, etc).

Remove the navigation menu and sidebar and you’ll see a massive increase in donor conversion rates, like this example from Best Friends Animal Society:


5. Your Ask is Weak

A solid fundraising ask (A.K.A. call-to-action) includes the donor in the fundraising narrative.

Use language that connects the donor to the impact. For example:

  • Give a Smile: Fix a cleft lip.
  • Give Clean Water: Have a direct impact in a community.
  • Join the Pipeline: Join a movement.
  • Feed a Hungry Child: Make a difference that matters today.
  • Invest in the Future: Leave a legacy.

Also, ask at least three times, in three different ways, on your donation page.

More resources for improving your donation page

John Haydon