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5 Online Donation Page Mistakes Nonprofits Should Avoid

What does an ideal online donation experience look like for a nonprofit donor? A few words might come to mind, such as easy, fast, or intuitive. And while donors want a seamless and simple online donation experience, the reality is that it takes a lot of effort on your nonprofit’s end to provide that experience. 

Of course, putting in the effort to improve the online donor journey is well worth it. Your nonprofit’s online donation page is a critical part of your digital toolkit. When a website visitor navigates through to your donation page and walks through the steps of contributing a donation to your cause, they’re providing you with the means to move your mission forward and giving your organization a vote of confidence that indicates they believe your work is making a difference. 

Though most nonprofits understand the importance of their online donation pages, important steps in the process of creating a donation page or maintaining it can sometimes fall through the cracks. Especially if your team lacks nonprofit website design experience, it can be easy to unknowingly make online donation page mistakes that actually hurt your donors’ experience. 

Luckily, there’s no need to be a coding expert or master web builder to avoid these mistakes. All you need is a content management system (CMS) built for nonprofits and a knowledge of missteps to avoid. In this post based on Morweb’s guide to donation page design, we’ll cover five common mistakes nonprofits often make with their donation pages: 

By knowing the mistakes to watch for, you can easily design (or redesign) an effective donation page that will meet your donors’ needs and help you pull in support. We recommend that you evaluate your own organization’s donation page as you read through this guide. This will help you identify whether any of these five mistakes are present on your own page and give you a headstart on fixing them.  

Let’s dive in so you can get started on improving your donors’ online donation experience! 

Mistake #1: Not branding your donation page to your organization.

The Mistake

Some nonprofits make the mistake of creating a generic-looking donation page. When a donor navigates to the donation page, it might look to them like it’s hosted by a third-party site, giving the impression that it isn’t a trustworthy tool to enter their contact and payment information into. Plus, without visual indicators of your brand, the act of donating might feel like a money grab instead of an act of generosity that will benefit your organization’s cause.

How To Fix It  

You can fix this common mistake by adding a few visual branding elements to your donation page. According to Getting Attention’s post on nonprofit branding strategies, here are some common elements you can consider adding:  

  • Logos: Your nonprofit’s logo is a visual representation of your work. Whether your logo is an abstract design or an emblem featuring a symbol that is important to your work, your logo gets people thinking about your mission. Place your logo at the top of your donation page to mark the page as a legitimate tool on your site. 
  • Colors: Colors are an important branding element because they set the mood and tone for a webpage. For example, a light pink color scheme communicates energy and positivity, while a neon pink color scheme might just be hard on the eyes. Choose your colors carefully and make your donation page coloring match the rest of your website.
  • Fonts: Even the look of the text on your donation page can have an impact on a donor. For your donation page, match the font on the rest of your website. Ideally, this will be a professional, easy-to-read sans serif font instead of swooping calligraphy or chunky, bolded block letters. 

Maintaining branding consistency on your donation page is critical for demonstrating your organization is trustworthy and professional. Much like leveraging a secure payment processor, branding your donation page can go a long way in building rapport and trust with your donors.

Mistake #2: Asking too many questions on your form. 

The Mistake 

Imagine one of your supporter’s friends learns about your nonprofit on Giving Tuesday. They get excited about the change you’re making in the world and want to donate. They arrive on your donation page and begin filling out your donation form. But after one page of questions turns into two and then three, this new supporter starts to become frustrated, feeling like the process is taking too much time. Not to mention, your organization seems to want too much of their personal information.

How To Fix It 

Asking too many questions on your donation form is a big online donation page faux pas, causing some donors to abandon their plan to donate altogether. There are three ways you can fix this problem: 

  • Ask only for necessary information, like contact information, donation amount, and payment information. 
  • If you are interested in getting extra donor data to use in donor communications down the road, include a few extra questions and mark them as optional
  • Ensure that your form sticks to one page in length to increase the likelihood of donors completing their gift. 

When donating only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require a donor to give over too much information about themselves, they’ll not only be more inclined to complete an initial gift — they’ll also be more likely to use your page to give again! 

Mistake #3: Failing to optimize your donation page for accessibility. 

The Mistake 

Even the best nonprofit websites out there sometimes miss the mark when it comes to making their donation pages accessible to everyone. An accessible web design ensures that all users — whether they’re hard of hearing, have visual impairments, or use screen readers — can access your content and use tools like your donation page. Without an accessible donation page, you could be missing out on donations from supporters whose only hurdle is being able to use your tool. 

How To Fix It 

Here are three simple ways you can make your donation page more user-friendly for all of your supporters: 

  • Add an accessibility widget. Your nonprofit-specific CMS should offer an accessibility widget that puts the power back in your supporters’ hands. This allows them to change the coloring of your donation page to greyscale, increase text size, highlight links, and change hard-to-read fonts to sans serif. 
  • Include alt text on all graphics and images. Alt text is a one-sentence description you add to the backend of images and graphics on a webpage. It helps to make sure that website visitors who can’t view your images (such as those using screen readers) won’t have any gaps in their experience with your page. 
  • Provide captions for all multimedia content. Some nonprofits like to include an inspiring video on their donation page that can motivate supporters to submit their contributions. If you include a video on your donation page (or any other type of multimedia content), provide transcripts or captioning for those elements. This will allow those with hearing impairments to get the information they need from these elements. 

Optimizing your donation page for accessibility takes only a few extra steps, but can pay off as you’re able to demonstrate to your supporters that you have their needs in mind, and, as a result, receive more donations. 

Mistake #4: Forgetting to include multiple giving options. 

The Mistake 

The experience of giving a donation to a cause you care about is very personal. After all, donations require sacrifice, as well as a deep investment in the cause you’re giving to. This is why donors like to personalize their giving experiences by taking advantage of different ways to give. Some nonprofits, however, neglect the opportunity to promote these different giving options on their donation pages, leaving their donors in the dark about how they can further their individual impact. 

How To Fix It 

Dedicate some space on your donation page to listing multiple ways to give. This will increase the likelihood that donors will take advantage of these opportunities that they might not have known about before. They may even inspire a donor to give more or give again, helping with your retention efforts. 

Here are a few options you might consider highlighting on your donation page: 

  • Your monthly giving program: Many donors would give on a consistent basis if it was easy. Try offering donors an option to check a box or sign up for your monthly giving program. This way, they don’t have to remember to return again and again to give. Instead, they’ll be billed each month. 
  • Matching gifts: If you partner with a matching gift software provider to help employees take advantage of their employers’ corporate philanthropy efforts, let your donors know on your donation page. An easy way to do so is to embed a matching gift database on your form that people can search to see if they are eligible for matching. 
  • Suggested giving amounts: Providing suggested giving amounts can help donors see what a “typical” donation amount is for your organization. Plus, they can encourage them to bump up the amount of their gift. For example, if a donor was planning to give $5 and sees a suggested donation amount of $10, they might double the size of their gift!

While you don’t want to overwhelm your donors with too many options, giving them a few choices when it comes to how they give to your organization can make their experience more meaningful. If your nonprofit is trying to decide which giving options to offer, try surveying your donors to see what most appeals to them. 

Mistake #5: Not thanking your donors after they’ve submitted a gift. 

The Mistake 

Every nonprofit professional knows the importance of donor recognition, especially when it comes to handwritten thank-you letters or big demonstrations of gratitude, like setting up a major donor thank-you luncheon. However, not every nonprofit adds an automated thank-you message or email to their online donation page experience. This can leave some donors feeling like blank checks instead of people who truly care about your cause. 

How To Fix It 

An initial thank you is an important part of receiving a donation, even if you’re eventually going to send a longer and more personalized thank-you message. Try setting up an email cadence that is triggered by the submission of a donation. Thank the donor for their gift and offer them additional opportunities to engage with your nonprofit, like following your organization on social media or signing up to volunteer at an upcoming event. Alternatively, you could add a pop-up thank-you message to your online donation process that displays after a donor completes their gift. 

The Gist 

Too many nonprofits fall prey to common online donation page mistakes that have easy fixes. Now that you know about these common problems, analyze your own nonprofit donation page with a critical eye. Try to take a step back and see your page from your donors’ point of view and make the needed fixes to improve the donor journey. A positive online donation experience will go a long way in helping you retain your donors’ support and increasing donor engagement. Good luck! 

Author: Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.