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7 Online Donation Best Practices (That Actually Work)

Are you looking for ways to amp up your online donations?

Your organization is already aware of the benefits online donations offer. Now, you’re searching for ways to maximize your online donations and raise even more funds.

Luckily, there are some strategies that can help you reach or even exceed your fundraising goals.

Table of Contents

1. Integrate Your Online Donation Forms With Your CRM

Online donation forms let you easily collect information on your donors, but all that information needs to go somewhere.

As long as your online donation software integrates with your nonprofit CRM, you can link the two together. The information donors fill out on their donation forms can be collected and stored in one centralized place.

Your nonprofit can benefit from this linking of information in three ways:

Automatic Updates

Every time a supporter makes a gift, their information will be transferred to your CRM. Your nonprofit will have the most up-to date information on your donors.

You won’t have to go into your CRM and manually change the information yourself, which will leave you more time to focus on more important tasks.

Easy Access

If your donor information is fragmented, it will take much more time to locate and collect all the bits of information you need on a single donor.

When your donor data is centralized in one place, anyone with access can easily refer to the information it holds.

Comprehensive View

It can be difficult trying to engage donors without all the facts. Now that all your donor data is in one place, you’ll have clear picture of your donors.

This can improve your engagements and help you analyze information on your donors better.

2. Use Suggested Donation Buttons 

Sometimes your donors need a little direction when they give. In fact, most donors don’t really know how much is the right amount to give. That’s where suggested donation buttons come into play.

They provide donors with suggested gift amounts and are often found on online donation forms or in gift request emails.

If your donation forms don’t have preset donation buttons, your supporters are left with a blank space, leaving the gift amount entirely up to them. For a donor, that can be intimidating!

Using suggested donation buttons offers your nonprofit two main benefits:


Speed Up the Donation Process

When you place a few donation amount buttons in an email, donors can simply click on the amount they want to give. They can continue with the donation process with one step already complete!

Encourage Donors to Give More

Donors will infer that the suggested amounts are the right amounts to give and choose from the options provided. This gives you the power to guide donors to a certain gift amount.

3. Simplify Your Online Donation Process

Donors are taking time out of their busy schedules when they decide to give to your organization. Why not make the process easy for them?

When donors experience a quick process, they’re likely to give again.

If your nonprofit wants to speed up your donation process, here are few tips you can use:


Make Some Fields Optional

Not all of the steps in a donation process need to be required. And some of your donors looking for a quick process will appreciate it if they don’t have to complete steps they feel are unnecessary.

With optional fields, you can still collect information from willing supporters and keep your busy donors from abandoning the donation process.

Limit Your Form to One Page

Shorter forms are less intimidating because donors see everything they need to fill out at once. Additionally, the process will take less time because there is less information for the donor to fill out.

The limited space will help your nonprofit be more particular about what questions to include, so that you’re not stuffing your form with too many fields.

Create Clear Steps

No one wants to complete a confusing donation page, so make sure that every step in the process is clear.

Your nonprofit should test out your donation forms before they go live. If you need some direction on how to create better online donation forms, check out this fantastic guide.

4. Offer Recurring Gifts As An Option

If you’re looking to increase your fundraising potential, then your nonprofit needs to offer recurring gifts.

Most online donation software contains a feature where you can insert a recurring gifts option into your forms.

When donors use recurring gifts, they may give less, but their contributions over time will more than make up for the smaller individual gift size.


Plus, recurring givers have a higher retention rate. New donor retention rate averages around 23%, however; with monthly donors, you’ll have a retention rate of 86% after just one year.

By placing a recurring gift option on your online giving form, you'll make it easy for supporters to become long-term donors without ever having to remember to write a mail a check each month. It really couldn't be any more convenient!

5. Make Sure Your Online Donation Forms Are Secure

Security is one element that makes some donors hesitant about giving online. Ease your donors’ worries by making sure your donors’ information is protected every time they give.

How do you ensure your donors’ information is secure?

The amount of security is dependent on your online donation software. So, it’s time for your nonprofit to get familiar with security.

To make sure your online donations are safe, look for the following security measures:


PCI Compliance

When your software provider is PCI-compliant, they follow a strict set of data security standards (DSS) created and enforced by the Payment Card Industry (PCI).


Tokenization is a process where delicate information is turned into a series of symbols, called a token, which only the payment processor is able to translate and decipher. 


2-Factor Authentication

As the name suggests, this process requires donors to verify their identity using another means, usually a phone number or email address. 

6. Give Your Supporters More Than One Way To Donate

The beauty of online donations is that your donors have so many options. It’s up to your nonprofit to offer your donors more ways to donate so that they have a convenient giving experience.

When your nonprofit provides donors with more ways to give, you’re increasing your fundraising potential.

Not all of your supporters are going to prefer giving with the same method. Offering more options means you can cater to more of your supporters rather than a select few.


Additionally, when you accept donations through different methods, you’re effectively making the process easier for your donors.

Donors don’t have to block out time to make a donation; they can pick the method that bests fits their situation.

Plus, more donation channels give your nonprofit more flexibility to accept gifts wherever and whenever you'd like.

Below, we list four common donation channels, but your options are almost limitless!

Donation Forms

Mobile Apps


Email Donation Buttons

7. Use Peer-to-Peer Campaigns to Spread Awareness

Peer-to-peer fundraising uses your existing supporters to raise funds on your behalf. Your supporters will rally their friends and family to raise donations.

In other words, peer-to-peer campaigns put fundraising in your supporters' hands. A successful campaign can help you increase your website traffic, spread awareness of your cause, and bring in new supporters.

If your nonprofit wants to host a peer-to-peer campaign, you’ll need a few things to get started:


A Peer-to-Peer Platform

The platform you choose is important because different platforms offer different features. You want a platform that can help you track information and can give your supporters some customization when it comes to setting up their accounts.

A Group of Supporters

Not all of your supporters are going to be ideal for this type of campaign. Start off by asking donors that have a strong connection to your cause or who have participated in past campaigns.

Content to Share

Videos, images, and blog posts are all examples of content that you can provide to fundraisers. That way, your supporters have material to share with their peers and motivate them to donate.

Now that you’ve got these seven best practices under your belt, you can optimize your online donation channels to raise even more funds.

Good luck reaching your fundraising goals!

Learn more about accepting online donations with iATS.