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Digital Donations Done Right

You run a nonprofit and you’d like to see a substantial increase in online donations. So, what do you do first?

If you regularly send electronic solicitations to your audience, have a highly visible “donate” button on every page along with an easily sharable, emotionally provocative blog, you’re well on your way to improving donations online. But don’t underestimate the impact of other design elements on charitable contributions.

In a recent Joan Garry blog, contributing author Scott Paley, President of digital agency Abstract Edge who helps nonprofits optimize their websites for fundraising, wrote that there are three ways to increase fundraising: find more donors, increase donation amounts, and increase donation frequency. Paley offers tips for achieving all three.

Paley suggests the use of lead magnets, “a short, valuable, and specific piece of content that somebody can download from your website in exchange for contact information,” such as a whitepaper or free E-book. Another idea? Asking visitors to sign a petition, which provides the means to start a conversation with those who care about your mission.

Testing your default donation amounts by increasing them just a bit is another option. “What if the nonprofit increased each default by $5? Would fewer people donate? Maybe not,” writes Paley. “If your average online donation was $50, this means you just increased your online giving by 10%. And all you did was play with the defaults.”

Another smart and inexpensive tip includes testing just one item at a time. For example, to test recurring donations, switch the default donation to “donate monthly,” rephrase content to imply that a monthly donation is preferred, and upsell on the donation form by again making the default a recurring donation. Making a monthly donation link prominent on the upper left corner of the website is also a clever move because it is what most people read first. As Paley writes, “You almost have to go out of your way to not make your donation recurring.”

For more tips, or if you want to confirm that your website covers the basics, please visit Joan Garry’s blog and read Scott Paley’s 3 Ways to Raise More Money Online.

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