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Check-Up Clinic: Donor Communications

Posted: 6/1/2020

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Optimizing UX on Your Donation Page: 5 Critical Elements

from soapbox 

Nonprofits of all sizes need to rely more than ever on their online fundraising channels and virtual engagement techniques. We've already seen incredible groundswells of support for COVID-19, and donation figures will likely continue to grow as the situation develops over the coming months.

While the shift towards online-only fundraising has been abrupt for many, the steady rise of online fundraising and social media over the past decade has thankfully prepared the sector to make the most of a challenging situation. But as your organization likely knows, it's not enough to simply offer an online donation page and post on social media every once in a while.

Actively cultivating engagement and removing any barriers that might deter donors or new supporters from getting involved is critical for online success.

Your donation page underpins most of your online fundraising efforts, so focusing on strengthening this particular asset is never a bad idea. A donation page that actively converts new donors and streamlines engagement will provide a healthy boost to any new online campaigns or virtual fundraising ideas you develop going forward.

Specifically, the user experience and design elements of your donation page will play a huge role in improving your ability to fundraise online.

Here are a few of our recommended best practices for ensuring smooth, conversion-generating UX for your nonprofit's donation page:

  • Use simple but fully customizable donation tools.
  • Refine your text appeal on the donation page.
  • Simplify the donation process whenever possible.
  • Customize the fields on your giving form.
  • Create campaign-specific donation pages.

With a solid foundation that's firmly rooted in these best practices, your donation page and online giving process will be stronger than ever, ready to weather any of the new challenges thrown your way this year. Let's get started.

Use Simple But Fully Customizable Donation Tools

Credit: Soapbox

1. Use Simple But Fully Customizable Donation Tools

Your donation software will naturally play a critical role in determining the quality of your online giving process. With so many solutions on the market, it can be tricky to know what to look for when you're just getting started or looking to make an upgrade.

A good rule of thumb is to look for donation software or platforms that are simpler rather than unnecessarily complex right out of the box. Then, plenty of customization and integration options will help you to build your donation tech stack so that it's the perfect fit for your organization's unique set of needs.

Donation software and apps that can integrate with your CRM will usually be the best choice. With a steady flow of data between your donation tool and database, it's much easier to manage the entire process, keep clean records and actively identify areas for improvement. Plus, when your tools can easily pull from your centralized donor data, automating all kinds of donor stewardship tasks (like sending thank-you messages to donors) becomes a breeze.

The ability to combine and customize integrated tools is what's made new modular-style, cloud-based CRM platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 increasingly popular choices for nonprofits. However, most leading CRM solutions offer wide ranges of integration options, so stay on top of any opportunities that arise for the tools you're already using as well.

2. Refine Your Text Appeal on the Donation Page

Credit: Soapbox

2. Refine Your Text Appeal on the Donation Page

After a prospect is persuaded to give by your appeals on social media or email, filling out your donation page is the last step in securing their support. The text on this page needs to accomplish a few essential tasks, such as:

  • Reminding donors of the mission that needs their support
  • Motivating them to follow through and complete their donation
  • Not slowing down the process at all or distracting the donor from following through

Include a short blurb on your donation page that reiterates your mission and conveys the concrete impact that a donor's gift will have. Aim for specificity, emotion and conciseness.

Rambling text or links back to other content on your site should be excluded. To quicken the design process, make sure your online donation software or platform makes it easy to customize the appearance of your donation page, including text and engaging photos.

If you're raising funds specifically for COVID-19 relief, we recommend creating a separate donation page just for that campaign. We'll cover this technique in greater detail below, but for now, be aware that you should customize the text on any campaign-specific pages to motivate donors specifically around that purpose or goal.

3. Simplify the Donation Process Whenever Possible

Credit: Soapbox

3. Simplify the Donation Process Whenever Possible

To improve the UX of your donation process, step into your donors' shoes and walk through each step as they would. What are you asking donors to do in order to complete their donation to your organization? Are any tasks preventing them from completing the process seamlessly or ultimately causing them to lose momentum?

Taking a step back and looking at your donation process with some distance can often reveal hurdles that you didn't even realize were in the way for donors. Consider these best practices:

  • Require as few clicks as possible from landing on your donation page to completing the transaction. Everything should be handled on one page in one form.
  • Avoid requiring donors to fill out many fields aside from the bare essentials, such as contact information and payment credentials.
  • Ensure your payment processor isn't getting in the way.
  • Optimize your donation page for mobile use. Simple, mobile-responsive designs work the best and prevent you from inadvertently turning away mobile donors.
  • Offer simple options that are smoothly integrated into the donation process. For instance, allow them to check a box to become a recurring monthly donor, rather than requiring donors to re-enter information.

Literally walking through every step a donor needs to take before they can hit the "Donate" button can help you identify elements that slow the process down or don't contribute any value. Trim the required process as much as possible to reduce friction and ensure more donors complete their donations once they land on the page.

4. Customize the Fields on Your Giving Form

Credit: Soapbox

4. Customize the Fields on Your Giving Form

As part of streamlining the giving experience offered by your donation page, customizing the data fields themselves is critical. While the default options on your giving software of choice likely get the job done, look for potential improvements.

Are there any required fields that aren't completely necessary for completing the donation? Consider removing them or prompting donors to provide more information after their donation's been processed. Requiring extensive contact information for your own records is a common mistake when an email address will suffice.

There are a few additional best practices to keep in mind:

  • Ask for pre-set donation amounts based on your historical data. Donors will tend to opt for the second choice, so set it slightly above your average online donation amount. This can be an easy way to streamline the decision for donors and raise more, but be sure not to set your asks too high or you'll risk deterring potential supporters.
  • Ensure your donation page is fully accessible. Fields should be clearly labeled with text outside of the field itself. This improves the experience for all users, particularly those using screen readers. Explore this guide to nonprofit web accessibility for more information.
  • Consider adding new fields when appropriate. Examples of this might include asking for a donor's employer if you're pursuing corporate matching gifts or asking how a donor heard about your campaign with a simple drop-down menu of choices. This strategy will be more effective on campaign-specific giving pages, but probably not your central, catch-all donation page.

As the COVID-19 pandemic creates the need for social distancing, nonprofits of all sizes will benefit from implementing more advanced digital fundraising strategies across the board. Taking the time to think about and customize the data fields on your donation page is a very doable example for every nonprofit.

5. Create Campaign-Specific Donation Pages

Credit: Soapbox

5. Create Campaign-Specific Donation Pages

One way to improve the UX of your giving process is to make it more specific and motivating, and creating multiple, targeted donation pages is a great technique. Aside from your central giving page, campaign-specific pages are useful for a few reasons:

  • They allow you to include much more specific text or calls-to-action that tap into the motivation behind that particular campaign.
  • Increased specificity for time-bound campaigns (like #GivingTuesday) creates a stronger sense of urgency, driving higher conversion rates.
  • Creating multiple pages allows you to A/B test your various strategies and determine the effectiveness of certain design elements or fields at generating conversions.

Greater specificity and urgency creates a more motivating experience for donors, but there are other, long-term benefits for your organization, too. Campaign-specific donation pages make it much easier to measure the success of individual campaigns going forward. With most of the donations for each campaign funneling through a dedicated page, you can quickly analyze and compare how your strategies perform. Then, use these insights to continually improve your online and virtual campaigns in the future.

Just be sure to customize your donation page templates so that they fully match your organization's branding. This creates a smoother transition for donors and fosters greater brand recognition and loyalty over time.

Additionally, setting up Google Analytics for your organization's website will be important as online fundraising becomes more and more central to your operations. For both your main donation page and campaign-specific pages, digging into the performance and traffic sources that drive donations is invaluable.

For many organizations, developing and implementing data-driven strategies is a new undertaking, but don't risk overwhelming your team all at once. Take some time to learn the basics of data marketing, test a few strategies and keep making improvements over time.

As the nonprofit sector adapts to a wide range of new challenges over the course of 2020 and beyond, online engagement will play a crucial role for organizations of all sizes. As the primary method through which you generate revenue online, your donation page will become (or already is) one of your most important assets.


Technology and tech improvements, even fairly simple ones like the tips outlined here, will be instrumental in strengthening your fundraising strategy and shoring up support for your mission. Get started by reviewing your donation page and the experience that it offers users, and then note areas for improvement. You'll be raising more online in no time!

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