Optimize Online Giving in 6 Simple Steps

Dollar sign over tablet

In this day and age, online giving is likely a given for your nonprofit. From donation pages to text giving, the days of mailing a paper check are practically in the past already.

But is your organization truly making the most of your online giving options?

In this article, we’ll show you 6 simple steps for optimizing online giving to maximize donations and engage donors more effectively than ever before.

We’ll walk you through the basics of how to:

  1. Fully brand your online donation page.
  2. Tell your donors where their money is going.
  3. Make sure your donation pages are mobile-ready.
  4. Promote recurring donations.
  5. Keep your donation forms simple.
  6. Follow up with donors immediately.

Pretty soon, you’ll be an online giving expert (and your fundraising results will prove it).

Now, let’s dive in!

1. Fully brand your online donation page.

Fully brand your online donation page

The first step to creating a beautiful, engaging online donation page is to actually build it!

Online donation software can make the design process much simpler than starting from scratch. Plus, the right software can also give you access to important features, such as website and CRM integration, automated receipts, and analytics tools.  

As you’re setting up your online donation forms, you’ll want to make sure that your page is not only functional, but designed in a way that reflects your cause and creates a sense of security for your donors.

When you create your page, make sure the design is cohesive with the rest of your website. Donors need to feel that their money is being handled securely, and being redirected to a new website (or landing on a page that looks like a different site) can deter them from completing the giving process.

A professional-looking page that includes your website’s color scheme and your organization’s logo is a subtle way to reassure donors that they’re still interacting with your nonprofit.

The Last Word: A branded donation page is more aesthetically pleasing and will increase your trustworthiness with donors, meaning they’re less likely to walk away from the giving process at the last minute.

2. Tell your donors where their money is going.

Tell donors where their money will go

Providing suggested giving amounts at varying levels takes away the guesswork for donors and increases their donation amounts.

You can make your suggested levels even more impactful by adding specific descriptions of what each amount will do for your organization.

Donors want to know the impact of their donations, and there’s no better time to loop them in than during the donation process itself. When donors see the increased impact they can make by giving just a little bit more, they’ll be more likely to up their intended donations.

Be as specific as you can here. Provide quantifiable justification for each giving level—whether that’s in number of meals you’ll provide, amount of supplies you’ll be able to buy, or how many people you’ll reach.

These tiers are also a great opportunity to add some flair to your donation page. Consider adding real-life photos of the work you’ve been able to do thus far to inspire supporters to get even more involved with your mission.

This is your chance to use your donation page to tell stories of what past donations have done and what future donations can do. By making it easy for donors to picture their own involvement, you’ll be more likely to engage donors on a personal level (and raise more in the process).

The Last Word: Offering preset donation amounts makes it easy for donors to give (and give more). You can further the impact of giving tiers by adding detailed descriptions of what each level can provide.

3. Make sure your donation pages are mobile-ready.

Make sure donation pages are mobile friendly

Having a site that’s mobile-friendly is vital in today’s world. Since over 90% of American adults own a smartphone, your organization would be wise to take advantage of mobile giving technology as soon as possible.

The simplest way to implement mobile giving is to make sure that your donation pages are optimized for mobile use. That means that your pages are just as functional and beautiful on a smartphone or tablet screen as they are on a laptop.

Luckily, your online giving software should take care of mobile optimization for you. Even so, it’s not a bad idea to check for yourself by viewing your pages on a few different screen sizes.

Mobile donation pages are a great place to start, but if you really want to maximize your donors’ mobile options, you might also take advantage of other mobile giving methods.

For instance, If you’re hoping to collect donations during an event, a mobile giving kiosk might be the best route for you.

Mobile giving kiosks are easy-to-use tools designed to make giving easy at community fundraisers. Donors simply swipe their credit cards to make a donation on the spot.

For more on mobile giving, check out this comprehensive guide from QGiv!

The Last Word: The best way to maximize online giving is to ensure that your donors can give anywhere, anytime. Mobile giving can take many forms, each of which is designed to be user-friendly and easy to implement.

4. Promote recurring donations.

Promote recurring donations

It’s no secret that recurring donations are some of the most profitable contributions your organization can receive.

Even if they’re donating in smaller increments, recurring donors tend to give more over time that donors who give sporadically. Regular gifts add up and can result in major fundraising impact all together.

Automated recurring giving is convenient for donors and nonprofits. Donors don’t have to worry about remembering to make a donation, and you can budget your fundraising strategy knowing their gifts are already in place.  

Many donors don’t take advantage of recurring donations simply because they don’t know how to!

But you can fix that by including a simple recurring giving option on your online donation form. Your software can assist in setting this option up by placing a field on your form where donors can sign up for automated recurring gifts. (TIp: jumpstart your online donation tools research by checking out this list of options from Double the Donation!)

Don’t forget to give your donors a few options for how often they’ll give. While some donors are happy to give on a weekly or monthly basis, others might prefer annual donations—more flexibility will lead to greater convenience (and therefore, more giving!), so be as accommodating as you can.

The Last Word: Recurring gifts can be a powerful fundraising tool for your organization. When you add a recurring giving option to your online donation page, your donors will be able to opt in to a more convenient, consistent way of making donations.

5. Keep donation forms simple.

Keep donation form simple

If your donors are overwhelmed by options, images, and clutter when they land on your donation pages, chances are, they won’t be donating.

Your donation pages should be short, sweet, and to the point. The easier your form is to complete, the more likely you are to receive donations.

Design your form to be as user-friendly as possible. Make sure the page is professional and easy to navigate, and don’t waste space including too many images, links, or other distractions.

Additionally, keep the content relevant and straightforward. Your donation form is not the time to survey your donors or collect vast amounts of information. On the contrary, this page should only include required fields that are absolutely necessary.

We recommend only including the following fields on your donation form:

  • First and last name.
  • Mailing address, including city, state, and zip code.
  • A valid email address.
  • Billing information (hint: have an option to autofill this section with the mailing address information already provided).
  • A recurring donation option.
  • An option to be included on mailing lists.

If you’re looking to capture additional data, such as contact preferences, volunteer interests, or information needed to create more comprehensive personal profiles in your CRM, consider adding an optional survey to your follow-up communications or reaching out to the donor later on.

The Last Word: Keep your donation forms simple in both design and content. A good rule of thumb is that all donations should be able to be completed in less than 60 seconds on any device.

6. Follow up with donors immediately.

Follow up with donors immediately

A donation is only the first step in a long-term donor-nonprofit relationship, so it’s important that you keep the ball rolling.

The first step is as simple as an automated donation receipt and a personalized, genuine thank-you note.

Letting donors know that their donations have been received is a vital to assuring them that their payments have been securely processed. Donors need these records for tax purposes (and if they’re hoping to submit a matching gift request from their employer).

A thank-you note, however, is more than just an acknowledgement that a gift was made. You can send these notes via email or standard mail, but keep in mind that you should send them out as soon as possible.

Although email is quicker, handwritten mail is timeless and allows for a deeper personal connection. However, in this modern day, many donors would choose the convenience and environmental-consciousness of an email over the classic feel of a handwritten note. Ultimately, it’s up to your organization to make the call for which is better.

No matter how you send your thank-you’s, these simple communications can strengthen your donor relationships and increase donor retention over time. Donors want to know that their money is making a difference, so remind them how grateful your organization is for their contribution.

The thank-you note is not the final step in acknowledging and stewarding your donors, but it is a quick, effective way to kickstart your donor relations and reiterate how important your supporters are to your cause.

The Last Word: Don’t let your donors’ contributions go unnoticed! Follow up immediately with a thank-you note that acknowledges their gift and shows your organization’s gratitude for their involvement.

While there are a number of ways to implement online donations into your fundraising strategy, we hope that our list has provided you with a solid starting point for optimizing your online giving techniques and maximizing your fundraising.

Image of Abby Jarvis

ABBY JARVIS is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.