How to create donation pages that always convert

Like most nonprofits and fundraisers, chances are you're always looking for ways to raise more money for your cause. The first challenge for any organization is getting people to your donation page, but what happens once they're there? A study of thousands of donation pages found that only 7-10% of people give donations once they reach a landing page.

So what gives? And more importantly, how do we fix this?

Peter Singer's book, The Life You Can Save, illustrates 4 reasons why some charities fail to motivate people to give to their cause:

  • No identifiable victim: The plight of a single, identifiable person motivates us far more than that of hundreds.
  • Proximity: We are more likely to give to causes close to home than those a world away.
  • Futility: The smaller the impact, the less willing people are to help.
  • Fairness: Donors need proof that they aren't unfairly taking on the burden.

Here's how to overcome these challenges and create donation pages that always convert.

Start with a Great Appeal

Your appeal is the most important part of your page, so it’s important to make it stand out. Keeping Singer’s lesson in mind, it’s critical to connect with your audience and communicate a sense of urgency for them to give. The most effective appeals make it personal. They tug at the heart-strings with compelling stories. They show who or what they’re helping and why they need help. These are the appeals that work because they’re relatable. We can feel for a person whose home got destroyed by an earthquake and want to help them get back on their feet.

The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation is great at motivating donors through personal and emotional appeals. In honor of eight-year-old Martin, who was tragically killed in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Team MR8’s FirstGiving page highlights Martin’s passion for peace accompanied by touching pictures and video. We get an inside look into Martin’s life and feel compassion for this identifiable victim and his family.

FirstGiving - Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, Inc.


Show Impact

To address Singer’s challenges of futility and fairness, it’s important to keep in mind that people give through your organization. In other words, they want to know that the money they give is actually helping someone. Tying donations to impact is a great way to show your audience not only that their gift helps but what - and who - it’s actually helping. It’s best to make this as concrete as possible. For example, “a one-time donation of $25 feeds one child for a month” is stronger than “consider making a gift of $25.”

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) removes the futility and fairness barriers by giving the donor multiple, tangible options attached to concrete results. Potential donors understand their personal impact before even contributing.

FMSC Donation Page

Giving concrete proof isn’t only effective in your recommended giving levels, it also works for your appeal. Don’t be afraid to boast of past accomplishments. Your donors want to know how much of a difference your organization is making.

A Call-to-Action that Actually Inspires Action

Donation pages that have one clear, call-to-action that stands out on their page are always the ones that convert best. Effective calls to action are simple, create a sense of urgency, and have a design that looks clickable, like a button.

They use strong verbs, carry your brand’s color scheme, and let the audience know exactly what they’re getting into when they click on it.

Consider this example:

FirstGiving button

This call to action asks a clear identifiable question and communicates that if you click the button below, you’ll get an answer. Moreover, it is eye catching because it stands out and makes use of an effective color scheme. Experiment with colors and take advantage of contrast and white space to find out what converts best for you.

Design is very important but the text you use in the button is just as vital. Use actionable wording, like:

  • Donate Today
  • Make a Gift
  • Feed a Family
  • Volunteer!

Specific, clear language helps donors understand their next action and prompts them to act.

Communicate Security

With recent news of security breaches and stolen data, donors are right to be concerned about their personal information getting stolen or shared. Show them that your donation pages are 100% secure through:

  • HTTP secured pages, like this:

HTTP Secure

  • Security icons and a notice that information is secure and won't be shared with third parties

FG Security

When you’re looking for a hosted donation page, make sure to keep security in mind. Is the provider using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for security encryption? Is the provider PCI compliant, meaning they meet the standards for payment card data security? These are the types of questions you must ask.

Give Social Proof

Humans are social creatures. While that is normally a wonderful thing, it can have a negative impact on your fundraising if donors don’t think others are doing their part. This stems out of an innate need for fairness and social inclusion.

Show potential donors that your cause is important to others with a support board, listing fundraisers, teams, and the amounts they’ve raised. If we scroll down on Team MR8’s fundraising page, we see just that.

Team MR8 Social Proof

Donors have complete transparency into how much money was raised and who raised it. If you can, your page should include social media insights and an overall amount raised, like on the Orangutan Foundation International’s FirstGiving page.

Orangutan Foundation social proof

We can see the number of Facebook users that have liked this cause and the overall amount raised since the page got created. Insight is powerful. The more information you can give about your cause and supporters, the stronger your appeal and online donation conversion.

Creating donation pages that consistently rake in donations is tough, especially if you don’t know where to start. But with the right communication strategy and tools in place, you can create impactful donation pages that inspire conversion.

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