The Basics of an Effective Donation Page

Your donation page is the most critical component of your nonprofit website. This is where visitors turn into donors, so this page deserves more attention and optimization than any other page on your website.

A well-designed donation page makes your visitors feel like they are already part of your cause. They need to trust you enough to hand over their money, which means creating a professional experience that shows your visitors that you respect their time and money.

In this article, we’re going to cover the basics of building your own donation page. These guidelines will help you create a page that’s attractive, shareable, and – most important – high-converting.

No Navigation Necessary

Your donation page is a landing page, which means it has a single purpose: to convert. In this case, a conversion is a donation.

Whenever you create a landing page, it’s important to limit distractions. You don’t want visitors following paths to other pages. So it’s important to remove all links to other pages on your site. Donating should be the only option.

Use a special header on your donation page that doesn’t have the usual menu bar or search box. Stick your logo on top, but don’t make it clickable. Eliminate your footer as well. If there is a piece of information donors need to know before donating, put it on your donation page.

Open with a Powerful Headline

Your headline is the most important copy on the page. Visitors are more likely to read this line than any other line on the page, so you have to make it as impactful as possible.

On a typical landing page, it’s best to use the headline to explain to the visitor how they will benefit after taking the next step. Put on a donation page, however, use the headline to explain the effect of the visitor’s donation.

Charity:Water does this especially well. “Clean water to people in need” is a clear benefit that most people can get behind. They also smartly add the language “100% of your money” to make it clear that all of the donation goes to the cause. That’s an important nugget to include because it sets them apart from other charities.

Donation page

Long and complex headlines are hard to understand and remember, so keep yours simple and powerful. Resist the urge to explain everything about your organization.

Feel free to include a subheading as well. Use it to expand on your headline’s idea. You can use more words here, but don’t write more than two sentences.

Optimize Your Donation Form

When a visitor decides to make a donation, your job is to make the process as easy and painless as possible. That means offering a donation form that’s short, simple, and intuitive. Here are some donation form best practices.

Use as Few Fields as Possible

Long forms deter visitors, so keep your donation form as short as possible. Do not ask for any more information than you need to process their donation. If you want to gather more information about your donors, you can always do that at some point in the future.

Offer Suggested Donation Amounts

Sometimes donors aren’t sure how much to give. They don’t want to send a pittance, but they can’t give their whole paycheck either. So it helps to give them some direction by suggesting donation amounts. Give them several options based on your usual donations. Learn how in WP Simple Pay.

Donation page

Offer a Recurring Donation Option

Some donors are happy to donate regularly, but they won’t if they have to return to your donation page every month. Create an option on your form for them to set up a recurring donation. This makes their life easier and maximizes your fundraising.

Offer a Custom Donation Option

While many donors will stick to your suggested donation amounts, some will want to input their own. If you force them to use one of your suggestions, they may donate less then they intend to. Give them the option by including a field that allows them to write their own amount. (Learn how in WP Simple Pay.)

Let them Pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay

Instead of requiring a credit card, give your donors the option to pay with the most popular digital wallets, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Many people already trust these institutions, so they’ll feel more comfortable sending their money through them. (Learn how in WP Simple Pay.)

Place It at the Top of the Page

It’s important to place your donation form at the top of the page where visitors can see it right away. If they have to scroll down to find the form, there’s a chance they won’t realize they are in the right place to donate.

Use Concise and Compelling Copy

It’s tempting to tell a long story about the importance of your nonprofit and why donors should send you money, but that rarely serves the page’s purpose. By the time the would-be donor reaches your donation page, they have a good idea of what you do and how their dollars will help.

Think about the reasons someone would object to donating to your organization. Maybe they aren’t sure you use their money wisely. Maybe they’re curious about the credentials of your leadership team. Or maybe they want to know about your results.

Use the copy on your donation page to address these concerns. Be concise and simple. Limit yourself to a few paragraphs. If you can, reduce your copy to easily digestible lists so people can scan quickly to consume your content.

Notice how GetUp! gets right to the point with their copy. They keep their sentences short and to-the-point.

Donation page

Add Compelling Visuals

It’s no secret that images and videos convey a lot more information than text. They’re usually easier to consume, as well. You can help your visitors understand your cause and the importance of donating by serving them great photos and videos.

Make sure your imagery meets these criteria:

  • Use high-quality images and video. Avoid small and blurry assets.
  • Don’t use stock photos. Take custom photos of your organization’s work.
  • Include people’s faces wherever possible.
  • Fewer carefully selected images are usually more powerful than galleries.

Notice how the Sea Turtle Project fills its donation page with a close look at their organization’s cause.

Donation page

Include Examples of Impact

Donors want to know exactly how you’ll spend their money. You probably publish this information somewhere on your site, but it’s important to include it on your donation page as well. Show them exactly what you’ll do with their donations. If you can, break it down based on typical donation amounts.

For example, you might say something like this: “A $20 donation feeds 10 children for a day. A $50 donation feeds 25 children for a day.” Language like this helps them understand exactly how much impact they can have on your cause.

Appease Their Self-Interest

People like to be acknowledged for their donations. It’s self-centered, but that’s human nature. You can leverage self-interest by giving your donors a way to broadcast their donation on social media so their friends and family see it. This also helps create exposure for your cause.

Add an option to the end of the donation process that lets donors share their contributions on their favorite social media platforms. Keep the shareable message simple. Focus on the donor’s impact and link back to the donation page. Here’s an example:

I just donated to the Wildlife Fund to help conserve nature and reduce the threats to the diversity of life on Earth. [link]

Going Forward

Your donation page is where you take in the cash you need to further your cause, so it deserves more thought and care than any other page on your site. Use the best practices we outlined above to create a professional and high-converting page. As always, test and optimize your page over time to boost results.