Donation Pages from Start to Finish

The Ultimate Guide to Donation Pages

You want donation pages and donation forms that convert well – that lead to more donations and larger donations. That’s a no-brainer.

Now is the time to update and optimize your online donation forms and donation pages!

It may be tempting to put off revamping your online donation form and page. After all, for lots of nonprofits, most of their fundraising dollars come from offline gifts.

But wait, don’t click off the page just yet! Online giving is on its way to becoming the norm. So, don’t get too comfortable. It’s time to optimize your donation process.

In this essential guide, we’ll be covering donation pages basics, from why you need a donation page to a checklist on how to optimize your donation forms.

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


Section 1

What are Donation Pages?

How are donation pages different than donations forms?

You want a donation page and a donation form that converts well, aka leads to more donations and larger donations. That’s a no-brainer. 

But, before we delve into how to best optimize your donation page and donations forms, let’s start with the basic terms to use when creating or making updates to existing donations pages.

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Donation Pages

Donation pages are the website landing pages that donation forms are hosted on. This is where the majority of the messaging for the page lives. In just a few short sentences, you want to persuade the website visitor to start filling out the donation form.

Donation Forms

Donation forms or nonprofit online forms, as their name suggests, are forms used to collect donations or gifts online. These forms can be added to a donation page hosted on your website or other virtual platforms.

Donors simply fill out basic information, including their name, email address, and payment information, to complete the transaction. 

With the right online donation tools, your donors will be able to make contributions through various channels, including desktops, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

What’s included on a donation page?

You should always consider your audience’s preferences and what has worked well in your past donation pages or campaigns. 

If you don’t know what has worked well in the past, you can use data from your CRM or donor database to help you draw conclusions. This will help you determine if there are additional components you want to include in your newly updated donation form or donation page.

Donation Page and Donation Form Example

You can also conduct A/B tests with your donation page by finding the donation page conversion rate. You can calculate this by taking the number of unique visits to an online donation page divided by total donations processed by that page.

In addition, there are some tried and true components that you always want to include.

This is what you should always include on your donation page and form:

  • A fill-able form that includes name, email address, mailing address, communication preferences, and payment type and information (credit card or online payment field)
  • Donation suggestions and recurring or monthly donation options
  • User-friendly experience for the platform they are on (mobile, tablet, or desktop)
  • Easily shareable page with a link to all applicable social media sites  
  • Visually exciting but not distracting images related to your mission or brand
  • Value proposition copy to communicate why someone should give

How are donations processed?

To process donations, you need two tools:

  • Donation tool
  • Payment processor

When a new donor fills out the donation form on your donation page, the payment processing begins.

This graphic explains the journey of the process. 

Donation Processing

What’s the difference between a donation form on your website and social media donation pages?

A social media donation page is a donation form that lives on a specific social channel rather than on your website as a secondary location to accept donations.

According to Forbes, one of the most popular social media channels for donations is none other than Facebook. 

With 18% of donors worldwide having given through a Facebook Fundraising tool, it’s an important part of your donation form strategy as a nonprofit. This is no surprise to anyone with a Facebook account. 

Social media donation pages and social media fundraising should be done in addition to a donation page and form on your nonprofit’s website. For tips on allowing donations to your nonprofit through Facebook, you can follow the steps here.

Homes For Our Troops Donation Page on Facebook

If you want to learn more about Facebook fundraising, check out our on-demand video with Julia Campbell, on how to use Facebook to your advantage as a nonprofit.


Section 2

Why Do You Need Great Donation Pages?

For many nonprofits, donations make up the majority of their funding. Even with other funding coming in, donations are still an essential part of the success of your mission. 

With the right donation page and form set up, 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 you got someone to your website or even your donation page doesn’t mean they will always take the last steps to donate.

With the wrong donation page, you risk losing out on donors and long-time supporters.

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

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


Section 3

How to Optimize Your Online Donation Pages

What are the components of a good donation page? 

This section includes the ultimate online donation optimization checklist, to help nonprofits create the best possible platform for giving. 

We’ll cover branding, mission statements, usability, and social media (plus a few bonus tips). 

Let’s dig into it!

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1. Branding

You have a logo, so now what? Make sure that you keep your logo style consistent and include it on all of your marketing materials. That means your online donation page too.

Fact: Branded online donation forms attract 7x more donors than non-branded forms.

What does it mean to brand your donation form? 

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

Better branding for Nonprofits Ebook

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 decide to include an engaging header image, be sure that that header image also matches the style guidelines of your website and your brand.

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

Style guides are a valuable resource in building a solid aligned brand identity.

They help educate staff, volunteers, donors, and online visitors on visually communicating the nonprofit’s mission. 

Neon One Brand and Style Guide Website

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

Before we move on to the next point, let’s review the branding checklist:

Branding Checklist for Donation Pages, "High resolution, size proportional logo placed toward the top of the form. Text styles in line with brand guidelines."

Need a little help with design? Neon Websites is here to lend you a hand.

2. Your Mission

Your mission statement should be short (1-3 sentences), sweet, and capture the essence of your organization. Easy, right?

Fact: 83% of participants said they wanted to know an organization’s mission and its objectives before donating.

17% of participants said their most significant hurdle to giving was a lack of clarity on the organization’s mission and purpose.

Should your mission statement be included on the donation page? 

Yes, the mission statement is an integral part of the donation process and should exist on the donation page. The mission statement should also live in different places throughout your site.

Where should your supporters be able to find your mission statement?

  • The donation page (ideally providing a link back to your mission page).
  • Highlighted on your homepage.
  • On a separate Mission page dedicated to elaborating more deeply upon the organization’s objectives, goals, and accomplishments.
  • Reiterated throughout your website.

Do you have an effective mission statement? Take a look at your current mission statement. Is it 1-3 sentences long? Do you feel that it communicates your nonprofit’s purpose? If not, it’s time to reconsider your mission statement. 

Before we move on to the next point, let’s review the mission checklist:

Mission Checklist for Donation Pages. "Place your mission statement before or beside the donation form. Link the mission statement to your mission page so your audience can learn more."

3. Usability

When we talk about usability, we’re talking about how intuitive and easy your website is to navigate. This includes any interactive elements on the site. 

In this case, we’re assessing the usability of your donation process as a whole. The primary focus being your donation form.

Fact: According to the most recent Nielsen Norman Group report surveying nonprofit website usability: 13% of users said difficult-to-use sites deterred them from donating.

How do I assess the usability of my donation forms? 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a donation form page with optimized usability. 

Even if technology seems daunting to you, remember that we have already adapted to specific formats in a short period.  

For example, users tend to look to the upper right-hand corner of a website to sign into online accounts. Donation forms are the same.

There is an established logic to how the fields are laid out. 

The goal is to make an easy-to-fill-out form that captures all of the information your nonprofit needs while not overwhelming the user.

The typical form structure is as follows:

  • Logo
  • Form Title
  • Input Fields ( start with demographic information, then progress to more complex fields)
  • Primary CTA button (click donate)
  • Secondary CTA button (share on social media)

Why is it important to have a mobile responsive online donation form? 

As online giving increases, so does mobile and tablet giving. You want to cater to your donors, no matter which platform they choose to use.

Does your form follow the established form structure? If not, are you able to easily make edits to it? It may be time to look into a new donation form platform if you’re struggling to fix usability issues on your current donation form and page. 

Before we move on to the next point, let’s review the usability checklist:

Usability Checklist for Donation Pages. "Add fields with options, rather than fill-ins. You can do this through suggesting donation amounts or options for recurring giving. Build your form to be mobile responsive, because people are donating on their phones."

Learn more about Neon CRM’s online donation tool features

4. Social

By now, you’ve probably created a Facebook page and Twitter account. Maybe you’ve taken things to the next level with Instagram.

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

Does social media really impact fundraising? 

Social media is about building legitimacy and credibility. To do it right, there’s a healthy balance of self-promotion, and helpful content sharing organizations need to meet. 

It’s the 80/20 rule. That 80 is about being helpful and informative (sharing others’ content), and the 20 is about all-out self-promotion.

We know it can be challenging to gauge the effectiveness of social marketing. However, adding a social share button on your donation form and page puts the power in your donors’ hands to become social advocates for your nonprofit. 

Every share helps expand your reach to a new network of people that weren’t on your radar before.

One last quick tip that’s really more about social etiquette: thank users for their donation! Some forms forget to confirm the transaction in a friendly way. This step makes users feel comfortable about your donation process.

Before we move on to the next point, let’s review the social checklist:

Social Checklist for Donation Pages. "Add social share buttons to your form, so users can choose to share it throughout their networks. Confirm the donation transaction with a friendly thank-you message and receipt."

Further Reading: Are Your Donation Forms Optimized?


Section 4

What Tools Do You Need To Create Donation Pages?

As you conduct your search for the perfect donation tool, consider what specific needs your organization has right now—and where you see yourself going in the future!

While many phenomenal online donation tools are out there, they’re not all designed with the same purpose in mind. Each type has strengths and limitations that may or may not be compatible with your organization. 

With the right software in tow, you’ll be able to reach new fundraising heights and engage with your donors in a reinvigorated way.

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Before You Buy, Ask Yourself…

  • Can this software grow with our organization?
  • Does this product fit into our budget?
  • How will we manage the data we collect?
  • What kind of support and training comes with this software?
  • Does this software fit in well with our current platform(s) and tools?

Online Donation Tools & Donation Form Features You Need

1. Mobile Giving

Mobile giving encompasses any donation that’s made on a mobile device—usually, smartphones and tablets.

You might encounter mobile giving through any of the following methods:

Through mobile giving, you can access your donors wherever they are. It’s convenient, engaging, and widely accessible for a number of on-the-go supporters.

2. Recurring Giving

With online donations, you can make recurring giving easy for your donors and increase your donor retention rates.

It’s simple: all you have to do is include an option for recurring or monthly donations right under the donation amount field.

And the data shows that recurring giving (sometimes referred to as sustainable or monthly giving) programs have proven to be one of the most effective and important investments a nonprofit organization can make, according to a recent Giving Study with Neon One and Searing and Duell.

You can give donors the option to have their contribution automatically deducted every:

  • Week
  • Month
  • Quarter
  • Year

Monthly or annually are the most popular contribution types, primarily if you have implemented a monthly donor program or an annual fund campaign.

Offering recurring donations on your online donation form is an easy way for your nonprofit to boost your donor retention rates. It also allows your donors to give to your nonprofit regularly without the hassle of mailing a check each month!

3. CRM Integration

One of the significant benefits of online donations is information capture.

Depending on how your online donation page is set up, you can gather donor data such as:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
  • Communication preferences
  • Payment information

When your online donation forms are integrated with your CRM, you won’t have to enter any of this information manually. Instead, accurate, instant data will be available in your database as soon as your donor clicks “submit.”

How Does Neon CRM Help?

Neon CRM provides unlimited custom donation forms that are perfect for nonprofits big and small.

Neon CRM’s 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, so say goodbye to data entry! 

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

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


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