Most fundraising programs focus on marketing and promotions for donation campaigns.  However, even once you have found those repeat or high value donors, getting them to actually donate the most money possible is not always easy. In fact, on average, 18% to 20% of credit card payments fail online in the US when customers are just trying to buy online, and same goes for donations. Do you know the most common reasons credit cards are declined are;

  1. An invalid credit card number, expiry date or 3 digit security code was input.
  2. The credit card billing address does not match the address on your statement.
  3. Your bank did not authorize the credit card due credit limit, expired card or other issues.

Capturing the payment of every donor possible with the least amount of friction is key.  Having a simple, user and mobile optimized page that shows social proof and allows for recurring donations is a good start. Here are 6 ways you can optimize the collection of online donations.

1. Simple Is Better

Making a donation page well optimized is by no means easy.  Donors need to see what they are being asked to do, who is asking it and how to do it easily on a single cleanly designed page without getting side-tracked. You must also do the work for your donors, by showing them the best and most typical donations in your page using preset button amounts. Too many external links or distractions in a sidebar are going to kill your donor conversion rate (the number of donors who actually make a payment).

A simple “Make a Donation” button is just much too ambiguous for most donors, and can cause a decision overload paradox (they get confused and leave).  It’s also often a good idea if possible to make donations tangible, like $5 buys a meal for a child, or a roof shingle for a school. The donation buttons should be bright colours with big type for the amounts.

Over 60% of donations are made online now, and that number is increasing.

It must work across all major browsers current and old. It must have it menus and text blocks degrade or stack well on tablets and mobile devices.  The text must be large, high contrast, readable and accessible for those with disabilities. It must zoom effectively for those older donors who don’t have their reading glasses handy. It needs the most actionable items like the donation buttons in the top left corner (without scrolling down) as shown by proven usability testing hot-spot models. It must also share well on Facebook, Instagram,  & Twitter at least and also be easily shared via e-mail.

2. Social Proof Works

This is huge.  What is “social proof” then?  It’s when you allow comments or reviews from donors or buyers or display tickets or donations made so far to build trust in new donors or customers.  And it works! E-commerce giants like Amazon have known this for years, by providing product and seller reviews on their sites to demonstrate social proof.  Donations are the same, and can feature a donation amount, name and comment which helps inform and encourage others.

We have found our CircleFund software really helps build momentum in crowdfunding campaigns in local communities.  People recognize names on the donor list and love reading their comments.  This is a proven technique to encourage donations, since like e-commerce, friends or relatives are 65% more likely to donate if their friends or family members have already.

3. Don’t Drop the Ball

Like e-commerce, donations typically require several visits to a payment or donation page before a contribution is made. Donor programs can be similar. Most crowdfunding programs optimally last 4 to 6 weeks.  There is an initial spike of interest after week 1, then less activity around week 2 or 3 and a surge at the end.  This is why regular promotions are necessary each week of the campaign.  Email and phone follow-up works well, media, getting local sponsors involved, adding prizes and incentives for donors is also key to keeping momentum going.  And then reminders within the critical last 3 days prior to year end for tax receipts is very important.

4 to 6 visits to an e-commerce page over a period of 1 to 2 weeks is the average range of engagement before a purchase or donation is received.

4. Make it Share-worthy

Any public speaker will tell you that a good well-told story is the most important part of any presentation.  The same can be said for your “ask”.  Emotion is a key element that must be aroused in your donors, and telling a good story about your cause is often one of the best methods to do that.  Showing a video with good narration, visuals and soundtrack has been proven to increase e-commerce conversions.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a product video could very well be worth a thousand sales. Considering that video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and that viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video – this is one marketing force you can’t afford to ignore. – Neil Patel,

5. Did You Ask For Recurring Donations?

EcoSociety Monthly or Annual Donations Page

EcoSociety Monthly or Annual Donations Page

You can get up to 50% more donations if you ask for regular contributions vs one-offs. This is low-hanging fruit, and can really increase your year over year donations.  Just be sure to set preset or suggest donation amounts realistically.

For example, a $5 to $10 per month donation or $50 to $100 per year are typical non-profit benchmarks.

6. Segment Your List

You know that e-mail list you have been collecting from fundraising events, office visits and fundraisers?  You need to use it in a way that makes sense for the kind of donor you are after.  If your donation page treats all supporters the same, then you should think about how to create separate donation pages or campaigns for each type of donor such as;

  • First-time donors
  • Recurring donors
  • High-value donors
  • Lapsed donors
  • Event attendees

Here at Circle Fund we have implemented these 6 items in our donor fundraising software. We not only take into account usability, mobile and browser issues, but we have also streamlined the donation process into as few clicks as possible to maximize donor conversion rates.  We allow fundraisers to create multiple campaigns, do crowdfunding, or sell event tickets. You can collect recurring monthly or annual donations, offer prizes as incentives and more. We include all the most popular sharing options on the right hand side of a page, and provide automatic e-mail donation receipts. You can either do-it-yourself or have us completely setup your campaign donation pages for you. See our pricing plan choices for more or click below to get started on your campaign now.

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