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Donation Pages: The Ultimate Guide for Nonprofits

17 min read
March 29, 2024
Alex Huntsberger

As online giving has become more common, donation page best practices have evolved. What worked yesterday might be holding you back today!

If you haven’t revamped your donation pages or forms recently, now’s a good time to do so. The earlier you make these changes, the sooner you’ll start seeing more donations!

In this essential guide, we’ll be covering donation page basics, from why you need a donation page to how to optimize your donation forms—with a handy donation page example that lets you see everything in action. 

For easy access, we’ve linked all of the sections below, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for:

What Are Donation Pages?

In order to explain what a donation page is, what you really have to do is talk about how a donation page is different from donation form. And the answer is … they’re mostly the same thing.

Donation forms are the actual fields you use to collect donor information and payment details online. When completing their gift to your nonprofit, donors enter information into your donation form like their name, email address, and payment details that are necessary to process and record the transaction.

Donation pages, meanwhile, are the website landing pages where that donation form is housed. 

Think of the difference between the two as the difference between “where” and “how.” Your donation page is where your donors go to make their gift, and the donation form is how they complete the transaction.

That’s it. That’s the difference.

Since your donation form is by far the most important element of your donation page, it might not surprise you to learn that a) most people use these terms pretty interchangeably, and that b) most of what we’re going to talk about in this article is more about optimizing your donation form versus the donation web page itself. 

Let’s get to it!

Why is a Great Donation Page Important?

For many nonprofits, donations make up a significant portion of their funding. Even if you have revenue coming in from other channels like grants and major gifts, online donations are still an essential part of funding your mission. 

With the right donation page and form setup, anyone can give to your nonprofit instantly. The immediacy of online giving makes it extremely easy to give whenever and wherever your donor may want. 

But just because someone navigates to your website—or even to your donation page—doesn’t mean they will always take those last steps to donate.

Without a well-built donation page, you risk losing out on donors and long-time supporters. In fact, the average nonprofit donation page sees a 50-70% abandonment rate.

If your donation page is long, confusing or loads slowly, you may risk losing a potential donor.

The rest of this guide will give you the tips you need to build , optimize, and track your donation pages to attract new donors and increase your fundraising.

The Core Elements of a Nonprofit Donation Page

While no two nonprofits are exactly the same, there are a number of best practices that come into play when building a donation page for your organization.

Here’s a quick list of must-have elements for any nonprofit donation page:

  • Donation Form: A form that collects a donor’s name, email address, mailing address, communication preferences, and payment type and information (credit card or online payment field). Later in this piece, we’ll talk further about how much information you should try to capture in your form. 
  • Hero Image: A high-impact image prominently featured on your page that relates to your mission or brand with a few lines of copy reiterates someone’s decision to give. If you are creating a donation page that’s specific to a certain campaign, choose a hero image that relates to that campaign.
  • Impact Statements: Copy that impresses upon donors how the gift they’re about to make will have a positive effect on a real (or composite) person. Include impact statements for your various donation amount and frequency options explaining what a gift of this size would allow your nonprofit to do
  • Suggested Donation Amounts: Use information from your nonprofit CRM to determine average giving levels and use those to set these donation amounts. Your form should always include the option for donors to choose their own custom amount.
  • Recurring Donation Options. Recurring donors are one of the greatest partners a nonprofit can have. While you can’t count on recurring donation options to do all the work for you, they pair well with a dedicated campaign to encourage monthly (or quarterly or bi-weekly) giving. 
  • Mobile-Optimized Interface: Your donation page should offer a user-friendly experience no matter what type of device  (mobile, tablet, or desktop) a donor is using. And, with the popularity of mobile browsing forever on the rise, prioritizing mobile is a must. 
  • Social Media Sharing Buttons: Attach these to the donation confirmation page with copy encouraging your donor to spread the word. But until users arrive at that page, make sure you don’t include any elements that would take them away from your form. 

While there’s a lot that goes into making a great donation page—and don’t worry, we’ll cover that all depth—those core elements are the ones that any successful page will need to employ.

But there’s also one more that we’d be remiss to leave out… 

Bonus Element: CRM Integration 

Beyond those core elements mentioned above, one of the best ways to create effective forms while improving your data gathering operation and saving your staff a ton of time and hassle is by using a CRM that can spin up fully integrated donation forms

When your online donation forms are integrated with your CRM, you won’t have to enter any of your donors’ information in your CRM by hand, and you won’t have to wait a day or so for the two systems to talk to each other and sync their records.

Instead, accurate, instant data will be available in your database as soon as your donor clicks “submit.”

Integrating your donation pages and your CRM has other benefits, too. 

When they work seamlessly together, you’ll be able to track your donors’ giving histories, gather valuable information about their interests and passions, and gain insight into other interactions they’ve had with your organization.

How Do I Optimize My Donation Page?

Think of this section as an online donation optimization checklist that you can use to help your nonprofit create the best possible platform for giving.

Let’s dig into it!

1. Create Mobile Responsive Donation Pages

If you have a website, you want it to be usable on mobile devices. The same is true of your donation pages. You want them to be easy for donors to use, no matter which device they choose to use when visiting your site.

Your donation pages should have a format that makes them easy to use on mobile devices. If it’s simply showing them the desktop version of your page, they’re pretty much guaranteed to have a bad experience. 

Some steps you can take to ensure your donation pages work well on different devices include:

  • Using an online fundraising platform with mobile-optimized forms
  • Compressing large image files (like your hero image) to reduce load time
  • Using standard fonts that will display well on mobile devices
  • Ensuring checkboxes and buttons are easy to tap on small screens

What’s the best way to check your donation page’s user experience on mobile? By testing it yourself! 

Have staff and volunteers at your organization try and use the donation form via their Apple and Android devices and flag any issues they encounter.

2. Use a Multi-Step Donation Form

The next time you finish a transaction online—like buying a new pair of pants or ordering a pizza for delivery—pay attention to your checkout experience. 

In all likelihood, your transaction will be broken down into multiple pages. There’s one page for confirming your order, one for your delivery address, one for your payment info, and one to complete the transaction.

This multi-page format is no accident. By breaking the process down into several discrete steps, the company is capitalizing on the phenomenon known as “cognitive momentum.” 

In other words, once you’ve completed the first step of your multi-page transaction, you feel like you’ve already committed to making the purchase. The rest is just details.

The same logic holds true for donation forms! By breaking down the process into multiple different pages, your form makes the whole transaction seem easier to complete.

The same amount of information posed to donors as a single form might overwhelm them, but embed a multi-page form on your donation page and you will likely see conversion rates rise.

If you’re a Neon CRM user, this is easy for you to do When you create a new donation form, just choose to use the multi-page donation form option. Here’s what it looks like!

This image shows three steps of an online donation page, each one on a phone screen. Image one shows the donation amount selection step. Image two shows the step where someone enters their personal information, and their payment information is displayed on step three.
This image shows three steps of an online donation page, each one on a phone screen. Image one shows the donation amount selection step. Image two shows the step where someone enters their personal information, and their payment information is displayed on step three.

 3. Brand Your Donation Form

Branding your donation form is a great way to instill trust in your donors. 

If your donation form looks and feels like the rest of your nonprofit’s website and digital communications, donors will be more likely to complete their transaction. 

In fact, branded online donation forms convert seven times more donors than non-branded forms.

Simply put, branding your donation pages means using your organization’s logo, fonts, color scheme, and other brand elements on your donation form.

This process starts with adding a high resolution, size-proportional version of your nonprofit’s logo–ideally, a resolution of 72ppi or better. 

The next step is to make sure that the form’s overall style is in line with your organization’s web and print design.

For example, do you have a specific font or text color that represents your nonprofit? Your form should follow the same style guidelines you’ve established for other materials.

If you haven’t established a style guide for your nonprofit, we highly recommend you take some time to do so. 

Want to see a style guide in action? Check out Neon One’s style guide.

4. Minimize Your Form Fields on Your Donation Pages

In the modern digital landscape, data is king. 

The more data you have on your donors—like their age, income, interests, address, and career information—the better you can tailor communications to specifically address their needs.

But how can you get that data? 

Well, it might be tempting to add a ton of different fields to your donation form. But if you ask for too much information during your donation process, you increase the likelihood that a visitor will fail to complete their transaction. 

Nobody likes filling out long forms, especially if you’re asking for lots of personal information. 

All of a sudden, that brand new donor is just another one that got away.

There’s an easy two-step solution. 

  • Step 1: Keep the fields to a minimum on your donation form..
  • Step 2: Send your new donor a get-to-know-you donor survey soon after they’ve completed the transaction.

Learn more about what questions to include in your donor survey in the article below:

5. When You Ask for Information, Tell Them Why It’s Necessary

When you are asking your donor for information that goes beyond the bare minimum required to complete their transaction, let them know why you need that info.

Say, for instance, that you’re asking for their phone number. Make sure that you specify that you will only contact them in case something goes wrong with their donation process.

With phone numbers, specifically, always provide context. Requesting a phone number on your donation form is a great way to kill your conversion rate.

Asking for an email address, on the other hand, is fairly standard. But be sure to let your donor know exactly what they are signing up for when they send you your email address.

Even better, include a check box that allows them to opt into a newsletter or other marketing communications. 

Otherwise, make clear that you are asking for their email strictly to confirm and follow up regarding their transaction.

6. Add Recurring Giving Options

According to a 2021 Giving Study with Neon One and Searing and Duell, data shows that recurring giving programs have proven to be some of the most effective and important investments a nonprofit organization can make.

With a good donation page, you can make recurring giving easy for your donors and increase your donor retention rates. 

This is a relatively straightforward tactic. All you have to do is include an option for recurring or monthly donations right under the donation amount field.

If you take this approach, consider creating different suggested donation amounts (with corresponding impact statements) for this type of gift. 

Monthly or annual gifts are the most popular contribution types. But you can give donors the option to have their contribution automatically deducted every week or every quarter, too.

Including recurring donation options on your form is an easy way for your nonprofit to build a reliable stream of income. 

It also allows your donors to give to your nonprofit regularly without the hassle of mailing a check or remembering to donate online each month!

7. Use Security Indicators to Signal Trust

If a potential donor feels unsure about giving your organization their credit or debit card information, then they’re almost surely not going to complete their donation online. 

One way to help put worried minds at ease is to include a security indicator (also called a “trust indicator”) on your donation form.

What’s a trust indicator? It could be something as simple as a little padlock icon or the words “secure payment” on the bottom corner of your form. Or both, like the example below:

This is a screenshot showing the payment information step of the donation page. The security indicator—a small padlock icon accompanied by the words "Secure Payment"—is circled in red.
This is a screenshot showing the payment information step of the donation page. The security indicator—a small padlock icon accompanied by the words "Secure Payment"—is circled in red.

Don’t believe that this will improve your conversion rates? You don’t have to take our word for it. 

An experiment by NextAfter found that the simple action of adding a box indicating that a form was secure resulted in a 126% increase in donations!

8. Add Social Share Buttons to Your Confirmation Page

By now, you’ve probably created a Facebook page. Maybe you’ve taken things to the next level with Instagram. If you’re really brave, you’re even on TikTok. 

Now it’s time to make social tools a part of your donation process.

Adding social sharing buttons to your donation confirmation pages enables donors to become social advocates for your nonprofit in your donors’ hands.

Thank them for their donation and invite them to follow you on your social media channels. 

It’s a great way to move someone from your donation page to other online channels where you can connect with them more easily.

Social media is about building legitimacy and credibility. Every share helps expand your reach to a new network of people that weren’t on your radar before.

9. Use Data and A/B Testing To Keep Improving

All these best practices we’ve covered are great, but you can’t just put them in place and call it a day. You’ll need to keep experimenting and tweaking to see how you can make your page even better.

Here are three things you’ll definitely want to do as you work to optimize your donation page and maximize your online giving. 

  • Use data from past giving campaigns to learn what kind of elements your nonprofit’s donors might respond to in a donation page. Your mission, donor base, and community are unique, spend some time combing through your organization’s donor database to see what kind of trends emerge.
  • Conduct A/B tests to learn which new elements work and which don’t. An A/B test means creating two different versions of your page, sending a version of each form to different donor groups, and seeing which version of the page performs best. 
  • Find your donation page’s conversion rate to set a baseline against which you can improve. You can calculate this rate by taking the number of unique visits to an online donation page divided by the total donations processed by that page. You’ll do this for every version of your donation page(s). If you conduct an A/B test and find that one version of your new donation page has a much higher conversion rate, then that’s the version you should use.

Download the Donation Page Checklist

Want to get started on optimizing your donation page? 

Download this handy donation page checklist to keep you organized and on task.

Plus, you’ll get even more great tips for making your donation page donor-friendly! 

Check Out This Donation Page Example

Reading about best practices is useful. But seeing them in real life is even better! 

Here’s an example donation page we made for a (fictional) nonprofit that’s raising money to send students to summer camp.

First, notice how the organization’s branding—especially its images and color scheme—is applied to the page. 

Then, take a look at each of the numbered donation page elements. They each correspond to a donation page best practice!

1. This donation page includes a multi-step format that breaks the donation process into simple steps.

2. Donors can choose to make a one-time donation, but there are also recurring options on the form.

3. A high-quality image helps donors envision the children they’ll support when they make a gift.

4. Above the image is some well-written copy that reiterates a donor’s impact.

5. The donation form includes suggested giving options with descriptions, which will help donors decide how much they want to give.

6. This form includes minimal additional fields, which means the donation process is short and simple

7. Check out the security indicators on this donation page—they’re a subtle signal to donors that their information is safe

8. This thank-you message on the confirmation page wraps up the donor’s experience and makes them feel good about their generosity

9. Anyone who completes this form is given the chance to take a donor survey to tell the organization more about themselves

10. Notice the social sharing options on the confirmation page—they make it easy for your donor to spread the word about your work

Want to dig into this topic a little more? Check out our complete analysis of this donation form example.

How Does Neon CRM Help?

Neon CRM provides unlimited custom donation forms that are perfect for nonprofits regardless of size.

Our powerful fundraising software enables you to fully personalize your donation pages, including various options for branding and content.

With Neon CRM, you can create a donation form that’s right for your organization.

Best of all? All of your data automatically synced up to your CRM, which eliminates the need for manual data entry.

You’ll be able to access all the information you collect on your donation pages immediately, meaning less room for error and more time to focus on fundraising.

with neon crm, you can collect, process, and analyze donations all in one system. Get started!
with neon crm, you can collect, process, and analyze donations all in one system. Get started!

Take a Tour of Our Donation Form Builder!

Does your online fundraising platform make it easy to create effective donation pages? Neon CRM does! 

You can build a beautiful donation page in minutes and customize the fields on your donation form. 

And, since they’re part of your CRM, your donors’ information will automatically appear in their donor profile—no manual uploading and downloading required.

See for yourself how simple it is to build great donation pages in Neon CRM with our self-guided tour!

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