5 Easy Wins to Increase Online Donations for Your Nonprofit

If you are a non-profit that depends on on fundraising, your donation page is perhaps one of the most vital parts of your website. And if you primarily rely on grants or endowments, then online fundraising represents a spectacular opportunity for growth. Regardless of your revenue model, soliciting donations on your website is a tactic you can't ignore.

Optimizing for online donations can seem daunting, but there are often some low hanging fruit that can quickly increase your online donations. So without further ado, here are 5 easy ideas to increase online donations for your nonprofit:

Send an Automated Appeal E-mail to New Subscribers

Increase online donations with this automated email appeal

When a potential supporter signs up for your email newsletter, they're indicating that they are eager to get involved. You might say "well, yea, duh!" but what are you currently doing to on-board that new contact into a donating supporter?  

Targeted email campaigns are an excellent way to automatically respond to potential supporters while hyper-personalizing your message. You can easily capture new Facebook likes, volunteers, and most importantly—donations—by setting up a simple appeal email in your marketing software.

I've had success with a 2-part email series: First is a welcome email, sent immediately after sign up, which encourages the contact to view some long-form content on the website or join the Facebook page. Basically, just getting them to know the organization better. The next day, they receive an understated appeal with a call-to-action that says, essentially, "if you're really looking to support this cause, then donate here. That's exactly how you can help". 

Everywhere I implement this strategy, it results in at least 10x as many click-throughs as the industry standard fundraising email, which is .43%. 

Engaging your new subscribers with an appeal mail will go a long way toward building relationships with them. Those relationships, and the trust and passion they’re based on, are what will ultimately make your fundraising efforts a success. And there's no need to wait to implement this strategy—you can create the exact same 2-part appeal automation with just a free Mailchimp account! Just don't forget to set up a "thank you" email afterwards.

Make your Donation Page as Branded as Possible

Online fundraising pages should be branded

Branding your donation page is crucial for creating trust. You need to convey the spirit of your organization, the sense that your donors are in the right place, and that they're making the right decision by donating to your cause. A study by Network for Good found that branded donation pages generate $53 more per donation than a generic one, so this tip can really make a difference.

If your donation software allows it, embed the donation form directly on your website. This way you stay consistent with your overall branding and structure. Even if you're only allowed a line of text, tell the donor where exactly your donation goes, and how it will be used. A simple picture could even connect your donation page to your brand, and tell the donor a story.

Not every donation software will have robust customization features, but even a platform as ubiquitous as Paypal allows you to add your logo & designate how the donation will be used. In my experience, small changes such as these have increased donations by 37%. A clean, branded donation experience conveys a positive impression to your audience, which in turns makes them trust that their transaction is secure.

Make a List of Website Improvements for Year-end Fundraising

The year-end campaign is one of the most important opportunities for online fundraising. People are more likely to give at the end of the year, making end of year fundraising a critical chance to connect with your supporters.

Fundraising increases at end of year, so improve your donation page ahead of time!

The same Network for Good study revealed that donations on December 31st are, on average, twice as large as those given the rest of the year. That means any updates you can make to increase the donation rate of visitors in the holiday season can have 2x the impact, so why not start planning now?

In data-driven marketing, a best practice is to jot your ideas down into a "wishlist" of improvements you could possibly make. Every month or so, you can review the list and implement the ideas with the biggest expected impact. Using this strategy to collect & launch updates in preparation for the holidays is a great way to increase donations while keeping your sanity.

These updates can be generic, like making sure the page is mobile-optimized, but year end campaigns also give you an opportunity to invest in creating targeted landing pages. Just duplicate your existing donation page, tweak the images and copy to align with your year-end appeal, and use this new page whenever you're promoting year-end fundraising. The strong tie-in to your appeal will undoubtedly increase conversions.

Provide Social Proof and Suggested Amounts

Increase online donation conversion rate by providing social proof like feeding america

Social proof is a powerful tool for fundraising online. If a friend or family member donates to an organization, you’re more likely to donate, and may donate more than you would by simply seeing an ad. The actions and support of family, friends, or even internet strangers carries more weight than brand messages.

One social cue you can include in your donation page is a feed of recent donations. It's been shown that other donors will adjust their amounts to match their peers. You can also take advantage of this effect by giving donors the opportunity to show off on social media after their donation, as this can turn one donation into many. 

For a first-time donor, it’s hard to know what amount will really make an impact. Suggesting donation amounts makes it easy for them. It’s even better if you can illustrate exactly what each giving level can pay for. Feeding America follows best practices by setting up donation levels, and even suggesting one in particular to the potential donor.

An important effect to note is that these social proofs can both increase and decrease the amount people give on your site. If the amount you suggest on your donation page is less than your current average donation, you will likely see a decrease in revenue since supporters won't feel obligated to give over the minimum suggested amount.

Add "Small" Words to Your Donation Page

Improve online donation rate by including small words on your donation page

Finally, research shows that adding a few key words to your donation page copy can significantly increase your online donations.

In a study by Carnegie Melon, changing copy from "a fee" to "a small fee" increased response rates by 20%! Consider that when you ask supporters to cover the cost of donation processing. The donation software Classy shines in this regard, giving you the option to directly edit the text for that portion.

Likewise, you can use small words to boost trust with visitors. That same study found that a business advertising "an expert opinion" vs "an opinion" saw a 44% increase in conversions. Take a look through your fundraising appeal materials and see if there's anywhere you can boost your nonprofit's credentials with words like these.

Where to find more advice

In just 8 days, I'm hosting a free webinar called "The Only Fundraising Idea Your Nonprofit Will Ever Need". We'll go beyond quick tips like these to discover the root problems you're facing online, and share a different kind of "fundraising idea" that will be the last one you'll ever need.

Check out the webinar and register here!

Also, if you'd like serious personalized advice about increasing your nonprofit's online fundraising, send me a message or schedule a free call with me using the tools in the footer. I'll happily chat with you, give some personalized tips, and point you in the right direction for implementing data driven strategies like these.