18 Tips on How to Maximize Your Nonprofit’s Donation Page and Form

Maximize online donation pages and forms by Steven Shattuck

By Steven Shattuck

Reposted from “18-Point Nonprofit Donation Page and Form Checklist” on Bloomerang with permission.

Getting a prospective donor to your donation page is only half the battle. So many things can happen on this page that will spell the difference between a lost donation and a lifetime giver. Here are 18 things that your donation page and form should do or have:

Your Donation Page

1) Website Native

Ideally, your donation form should live on a page that lives on your website. For example: charity.org/donate. When you redirect visitors from your website to a third-party site (like PayPal or Google Checkout), some trust may be lost.

2) Mobile-Friendly

With the recent Google algorithm changes, it’s absolutely critical that your entire website is mobile-friendly and responsive. As more and more donors pledge their support via mobile devices, your donation page and form must function on all device types.

3) Reduced Navigation

A donation page should give the donor limited ability to exit the page. Once they are there, you only want them to do one thing: make a donation. Don’t distract them or make it easy for them to abandon the form.

4) Donor-Centric Copy

Your donation page should include some supporting text, since it may be the first page of your website they see.

Don’t have to wait until after they’ve donated to thank them. Shower them with praise, let them know how much their donation will mean to those you serve and make them the hero of the story.

5) Supporting Content

Photos and videos can really spice up a donation page. Try to visualize the impact that your donors make!

6) Social Proof

For enhanced trustworthiness, consider including a badge from your payment processor or database provider, or from another third-party like GuideStar or PCI (showing compliance).

7) Privacy Policy / Statement

A link to your privacy policy should be pervasive throughout your entire website, and definitely accessible on your donation page. This policy simply states how donor information will be stored, used and (not) shared. You can find help on writing a privacy policy here.

8) SSL Certificate

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate transforms the HTTP in your website URL to an https (HTTP over SSL), which adds additional browser protection. If you don’t yet have an SSL Certificate, you may not be able to take advantage of item #1 in this post. Check with your website hosting company to get started.

Now, let’s move on to the form.

Your Donation Form

9) Contact Info & Payment Info

Don’t go overboard on required content. If you ask for a lot of info and make required, your conversion rate could suffer. Getting payment info is kind of a no-brainer.

10) Suggested Donation Amounts w/ Impact Description

Sometimes called a “gift array” or “giving ladder,” suggested donation amounts take the guesswork out of the donors’ mind and help you dictate their giving level.

Stair-stepped amounts like $20, $50, $100 and $250 are pretty standard, but some creative organizations use unique giving amounts, like $19, $37, $64, etc. to be more attention-grabbing. This one of many great things on a donation form that you can test.

Be sure also to include what that money does. Check out how Coburn Place defines gift impact:


The American Diabetes Association has a unique giving ladder (with impact):


Don’t be boring!

11) Recurring / Monthly Giving Option

This is an absolute must. According to Target Analytics’ 2009 DonorCentrics US Recurring Giving Benchmarking Analysis, first-year monthly donors were retained at a 68% rate vs 26% for single gifts only. For multi-year donors, those same figures are 84% and 56% respectively.

Monthly donations create a stickiness factor. Chances are, donors won’t even notice the charges hitting their credit card or checking account. Call it the Netflix’ification of giving.

12) Online Upgrade

Our good friend Simon Scriver, CFRE, Head of Fundraising at One in Four Ireland, shared with us a little experiment he did on a donation form. He added a small checkbox that stated “Cover The Charity’s Fees” which increases the donation amount by a few percentage points (covering all credit card, admin fees, etc. so that the charity walks away with the full original amount the donor was trying to give). He reported that about 10-20% of donors checked the box. Not bad!

13) Anonymity Option

With a checkbox, ask “Would you like to remain anonymous in agency publications?” This will cover you for print and digital materials (annual reports, social media, etc.).

14) Designation Option

Allowing the donor to choose where their dollars go to work will empower them, while at the same time show off your multitude of services and activities.

15) Honorarium Option

Occasionally, a donor may want to make a gift in honor of someone else. Giving them this option will give you insights into why the give, informing your future relationship-building efforts with that donor.

16) Email Opt-In w/ Interest Choices

Even though a donation form completion that includes the donor giving you their email address is considered a kind of opt-in, it’s still a good idea to give them the option of what they will receive from you going forward.

At the very least, add a line of text to the form or page that says “By donating today you are opting-in to receive communications from us.”

17) Communication Preference

Why waste postage on a donor who doesn’t want mail, or call a donor who doesn’t want to be called? Ask the donor how they want to be communicated with.

P.S.: include social media as an option!

18) Message Box

An optional message box can give you a wealth of insight into what makes your donors tick. You never know what advice, feedback or praise they’ll give unless they give you a mechanism to do so! Their messages can dictate how you follow-up, upgrade or appeal to them in the future.

Bonus) How did you hear about us?

The answer to this question will let you know how effective your individual marketing channels are.

Bonus) Paperless option

“If you would like to receive a paperless confirmation for your gift, please indicate that here.”

Of course, you can still be successful without all of these items. Concentrate on optimizing what your technology allows and what makes the most sense for your organization.


For more of Steven’s expert advice, download his free checklist and eBook via the links below:

Free eBook - The Art and Science of Digital Donor Retention

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Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. In addition to leading the sales, marketing and customer advocacy teams, he curates our blog, administers our weekly educational webinar series and hosts Bloomerang TV, a video podcast that interviews fundraisers and consultants in the nonprofit sector. Steven has contributed content to the National Council of Nonprofits, AFP, NTEN and Nonprofit Hub, and is a co-author of Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition. He is a frequent conference speaker, having spoken at AFP International, NAYDO, Cause Camp, ADRP, the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, and Planet Philanthropy to name a few. Steven volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member. He resides in Indianapolis with his wife and son.

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