Best practices for asking for donations online

Online donations continue to grow for many nonprofits. According to the most recent Nonprofit Technology Network survey, online donations increased 19 percent between 2014 and 2015, with monthly giving and increased web traffic being primary contributors to the growth.

How can nonprofits guide donors to online donations pages and design successful asks? Here are some best practices to ensure an organization can take part in this growing fundraising trend:

Speak to donor preferences
Each donor is a unique person with different wants and needs. Epolitics.com said nonprofits can segment audiences to create online donation pages that speak to the people most likely to give to a cause.

Engaging content - Some donors will be moved by images of people being helped by nonprofit projects, while others will want to see data-driven results of prior campaigns. Recognizing which content appeals to certain audiences means donation pages can include the pictures or text most likely to convert online visitors sitting on the fence.

Diverse channels - To reach the broadest audience possible, nonprofits will need to include donation options that work with every popular communication channel available. Organizations want to accept contributions through websites and social media donation forms. It's important that these channels work; Nonprofit Tech for Good collected research that found responsive sites led to 34 percent more conversions.

Give donors options
The Nonprofit Technology Network survey discovered a common trend these days is organizations collecting a greater number of smaller donations. While people give large sums less frequently, monthly giving is up. This suggests nonprofits may want find ways to encourage different types of gifts.

Offer suggestions - A common best practice for nonprofits is to list suggested amounts. Nonprofits may want to show what previous donors gave, so online visitors have someone to identify with. Tech Times shared the results of consumer studies that found people are more likely to give to charities when they see others doing it. Also, don't forget to provide a monthly giving option.

Publish goals - An organization can encourage giving by showing where the money will go. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide suggested posting fundraising goals on online donation pages. When visitors see how their contribution actually benefits a cause through hard numbers, they know they are significant contributors to a cause they care about. For example, nonprofits could post what will happen if they reach a certain dollar amount or number of monthly subscribers and send messaging to all contributors when the goal is met. Constant communication may encourage repeat donations.

Make it easy
One of the best ways to encourage visitors to donate is to create an intuitive path to contributing. Donation pages should guide supporters and avoid the obstacles usually associated with online financial transactions.

Simplify forms - Qgiv advised organizations to look over existing online donation pages and find ways to remove needless or redundant questions from forms. Nonprofits need to streamline donation pages. If possible, it's best to limit the donation process to a single form and save financial data fields for the final section to encourage commitment. While keeping the page functional, organizations can't neglect design. Donation forms should be appealing to the eye and consistent with nonprofit brand imagery.

Enforce security - Online financial transactions have become more commonplace in the modern world, but some audiences are still tentative about submitting personal and payment information to organizations. Nonprofits must find payment processing technology that secures donor financial information. Once an organization adopts the technology, it should communicate what it does to keep information submitted by supporters safe.

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