7 Ways to Boost Donations on Your Website

By Shaun Culbertson | April 30, 2019

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Before we jump into the 7 Ways to Boost Donations on Your Website, let’s first try and understand some key questions. Here are four questions (the four Ws) to think about when designing your site.

  1. “Who is Giving?”
  2. “Why are they Giving?”
  3. “When are they Giving?”
  4. “What are they Giving?”

The answers are pretty simple, but it helps to paint an accurate picture for the rest of the article.

Answer 1 – “Who is Giving?”

In 2017, the general public accounted for 70% of all donations made to non-profit organizations. They gave $286.65 billion in 2017. This is an increase of 3% from the year before. After the general public, foundations gave $66.9 billion (16% of all) and corporations gave $20.77 billion (5% of all).

Answer 2 – “Why are they Giving?”

There are many reasons why people give, but a general consensus poll revealed that most people give for two reasons: passion and personal connection. More than half choose to support charities that pursue a cause they are passionate about.

Answer 3 – “When are they Giving?”

During the final two weeks of the calendar year, 63% of people typically make a financial donation. Most people donate to reduce their taxable annual income for the year. Other active giving times include: Annual/Monthly fund raising drives; memorial services; and event fund raising. 

Answer 4 – “What are they Giving?”

The last thing to understand is what people give. In 2017, the general public gave $286.65 billion and 63 million Americans (nearly 23% of the adult population) volunteered time, talent, and energy. In-kind gifts are also common.

1) Focus on Your Mission

Based on the answer to question 2, people want to know what your organization stands for. They want to contribute to an organization they share a passion and personal connection with. People scan websites in search of this information.

Actions:

Place your organization’s mission, goals, and work on the home page or clearly link to it in the “About” section of your website.

Highlight statistics and facts that measure or corroborate your goal’s impact.

 

Hope for Haiti website home page screenshot.

Hope for Haiti – https://hopeforhaiti.com/

Hope for Haiti website does a fantastic job on the home page leading with their vision and mission. They also utilize video to deliver the story of why and how they help Haitian people. The website quickly covers their work and below that they provide quantitative highlights on the progress they have made to date. Overall, the site utilizes a simple, well-organized design and is transparent about the mission, work, and results.

2) Boost Donations Through Trust

First impressions really do matter. It takes people about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to form an opinion about your website. Organizations that build and maintain a professionally designed website are generally considered to be more trustworthy than those without. Trust equals donations.

Actions:

Create a clean, organized, and clutter-free visual design and layout.

Build a consistent experience between your main site and affiliate or chapter websites.

 

Wildlife Alliance – https://www.wildlifealliance.org/

The Wildlife Alliance website design is simple and clean. It utilizes professionally shot photography to help illustrate the story. 

 

3) Write Clearly. Be Current.

Vague language and ambiguous mission statements annoy visitors and cast doubt on an organization’s trustworthiness. This also includes poor grammar and punctuation. How your content is presented is just as important as the content itself. People also judge sites based on the amount of information available. Posting seasonal news and event content leads people to believe an organization is aware of current issues and can help boost donations. 

Actions:

Focus on providing well written, clearly presented content.

Provide ample information about your work and mission.

Mention how charitable donations can lower your taxable income (effective tactic leading into the final weeks of the year).

Promote “Annual Giving” periods or monthly awareness drives.

Share timely events, holidays, and occasions so your content stays fresh.

 

Sustainable California – https://suscon.org/

Timely events and occasions are good for public relations, staying current, and building trust with visitors. I like how Sustainable California highlights their 25th-year anniversary, showing pride and accomplishment.

4) Boost Donations by Making it Simple to Give

People become confused when they are sent to third-party payment landing pages when making a donation. Custom-branded donation pages inside a website raise six times more money than ones without. Stats show that 45% of donors enroll in a monthly giving program and 54% of donors prefer to give online with a credit or debit card.

Actions:

Make the donating button highly visible.

Build the donation process into your website. Avoid third-party vendors.

Allow people to chose a one-time payment or monthly re-occurring charges.

Provide alternative options for payment (i.e. PayPal, mail, or by the phone).

• Offer information on how to donate non-monetary items and ways to volunteer. Collect visitor info on a web form.

Use recognizable icons or statements that explain the site’s level of security.

 

 
Habitat for Humanity – https://www.habitat.org/donate/?keyword=header

This is probably one of my favorite donation pages because it has everything people want — options, security, and information. The only thing missing is a snapshot of where donations get spent, but if you investigate you’ll find case studies documenting where the money goes. This landing page provides payment options and choices, credibility, security icons, charitable gift options, and annual reports with detailed money logging.

5) Boost Donations with Legitimacy and Reputation

The digital era coincides with the era of transparency. People want to be sure they are donating to a worthy cause.

Actions:

Mention all supporters, partners, and sponsors.

Showcase impactful case studies, stories, and testimonials.

Consider, if possible, high profile endorsements to help build trust.

If highly rated by watchdog organizations, mention it and link to the information.

 

 
World Class Service Dogs – https://neads.org/

On their homepage, World Class Service Dogs mentions how they cultivate a healthy group of supporters and partners. They display logos, talk about how important their partnerships are, and provide information on how to become a partner. This content is not associated with a donation but at the same time, it has everything to do with a donation. 

 

 
Magnolia Clubhouse – https://www.magnoliaclubhouse.org/

Magnolia Clubhouse does a great job sharing real stories from real people. 

 

 
United Nations Children’s Fund – https://www.unicefusa.org/supporters/celebrities/ambassadors/alyssa-milano

Celebrities have large followings and their support can bring that following to your organization. 

6) Boost Donations by Showing How They’re Used 

To be certain that their money will be put to good use, visitors want to know how much of their money goes to programs and how much goes to overhead, administrative costs, or outside fundraising organizations.

Actions:

Provide facts and figures around how donations are used.

Explain or tell a story of the impact a single donation can make.

 

 

Action Against Hunger – https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/donate/save-lives-end-hunger

I really like how Action Against Hunger created a small infographic below their donation process. It easily illustrates where the majority of donations go. Remember, people want to know that their money is being put to good use.

 

 
ASPCA – https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/donate/save-lives-end-hungehttps://secure.aspca.org/donate/donate?ms=wb_top_homepage-donate&initialms=wb_top_homepage-donate&pcode=WEBMEMBER&lpcode=WEBGUARDr

ASPCA does a good job of using photographs of animals paired with facts supporting how each dollar donated helps an animal in need. Also, at the end of the year ASPCA runs broadcast television commercials and digital banner ads asking for support, because they know most people donate during the last two weeks of the year.

7) Show a Local Presence

Higher interest happens when organizations show that they work in and impact their local communities. People are more likely to donate if an organization provides some benefit to their community. 

Actions:

Think about establishing micro-sites with sub-domains and market them locally.

Mention all the ways you contribute to local communities.

Show examples of how you benefit local communities.

 

 

United Way – https://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/

 

 

 

 

American Heart Association – https://www.heart.org/en/affiliates/ohio/cleveland?s=q%253Dcleveland%2526sort%253Drelevancy

 

One important goal of a non-profit website is to attract and retain donors. If your audience struggles to understand your organization’s mission and how their donation will be used, or it takes too long to learn how they can donate, visitors are likely to find another organization to fund. Good design is about understanding the challenges to and opportunities for organizational growth and survival. Those factors should drive every website’s design, development, and user experience. 

If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email at shaun@designroom.com. I can also present this content to your organization and answer any questions your team may have on the topic.

 

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Author

Shaun Culbertson

Shaun is our Digital Design Director. He directs the design and development of all our digital work and positions the creative in all digital channels. Shaun offers our clients more than fifteen years of digital experience. Extremely detail-oriented and design-focused, Shaun always looks to take the design to the next level. Before arriving at dR, Shaun worked as Senior Art Director at Adcom and Art Director at Rosetta. He has worked on several Fortune 500 brands, including Sherwin-Williams, Marriott International, and Rigid Tools. Outside of work, Shaun is an avid backpacker, dog lover, and yogi.

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