5 Tips to Optimize Your Online Donation Forms

Category: Solutions

Picture this: Giving Tuesday is just around the corner and your nonprofit’s staff is scrambling to optimize your nonprofit website for the upcoming digital fundraising campaigns. Time is of the essence, and your web platform must be in the best possible shape to maximize incoming donations. So, what areas of your website should your team focus on? 

Your landing page is certainly important, as are informational pages about your different fundraising initiatives. However, any fundraising team would agree that your online donation form is a critical part of your fundraising success. 

Your donation form is not only the central tool that your organization uses to accept donations virtually, but it can also be leveraged to improve the donor experience, boost incoming donations, diversify the giving process, and engage donors in inventive ways.

To optimize your online donation form and pave the way for maximum fundraising success, consider these five donation form essentials:

  1. Streamline your user design.
  2. Optimize your form for mobile devices.
  3. Limit redirects off of your website.
  4. Incorporate additional methods of giving.
  5. Partner with a secure payment processor.

Your donation form is more than just a funnel for incoming revenue. With the right design best practices and software solutions, you can turn this seemingly innocuous tool into one of your greatest fundraising assets.

1. Streamline Your User Design

Your online donation form has two sides to keep in mind: a frontend and a backend. The backend refers to the more technical side of your form that donors don’t see, and the frontend is the interface that donors will directly interact with during the online giving process. 

Both sides of your donation form are important, but let’s focus on the frontend interface for now. The visual, donor-facing side of your form will leave a long-lasting impression on donors. 

For example, a busy, disorderly, or confusing design interface can not only slow down donors and frustrate them as they navigate your form, but it can even discourage donations entirely and make your organization appear unprofessional. 

By contrast, an aesthetically-pleasing and easily navigable user interface can encourage donations both now and in the future by making giving as easy as possible. Here are a few keys ways that you can streamline your online donation forms’ user design interface:

  • Use consistent branding. Your brand represents your organization to the public through unique style choices, such as your logo and slogan, and it is a critical tool for donor acquisition and retention. When a donor clicks into your donation form, they shouldn’t feel as if they’ve been sent to a different organization’s website. By branding your online donation form to match the rest of your web platform, you can make the giving process a smooth, professional, and harmonious experience.
  • Remove unnecessary information fields. There are plenty of opportunities to gather information from your donors, such as through email surveys, but your donation form should only ask for the absolute minimum to complete the donation process. Stick to the essentials and simplify the online giving experience by only asking donors for information that is necessary and relevant to their donation.
  • Integrate your external tools. Invest in donation software solutions that integrate directly into your online donation form. For example, the right payment processor or matching gift database tool can increase incoming donations and improve the donation process. It should also have integration capabilities, meaning that it can be embedded into your donation form.

The look, feel, and navigability of your online donation form will have a profound impact on your users’ experiences. With these design best practices, you can ensure that this impact is a positive one.

2. Optimize Your Form For Mobile Devices

Mobile optimization is one of the most critical contributing factors to a positive online giving experience. Afterall, mobile optimization will increase the accessibility of your website to donors exploring from any location, time zone, or device, encouraging donations and minimizing bounce rate on your donation form.

You can’t predict where donors will encounter your donation page. They may be looking at your website on their desktop, or they might scroll through a Facebook fundraising ad on their phone. 

To strengthen your multichannel fundraising strategies and increase online donations, you need to give donors the ability to interact with your content anywhere, at any time and still have an optimal online experience

Use your browser’s built-in inspect tool to see how accessible your donation form is for mobile devices. Image resizing and breaking up text are two of the most common and simple fixes that you can take to improve the mobile experience.

To take things a step further, you might even look for a website builder or CMS that offers suggestions, solutions, and alerts to increase mobile accessibility. Kanopi’s nonprofit UX article offers some additional guidance on this front, advising readers to find a CMS solution that offers automatic mobile optimization tools and offering further tips to improve your overall website UX, such as testing load speeds and conversion-optimizing your donation forms.

3. Limit Redirects Off Of Your Website

Redirects are an unnecessary hassle for your online donors, extending load times and potentially even frightening them out of giving after being taken to an unfamiliar, third-party website. 

Luckily, with integrated tools, form, and technologies, you can still take advantage of software solutions that assist your nonprofit’s operations without causing off-site redirects. From donor management and fundraising software to event management solutions, your nonprofit likely already understands the importance of partnering with the right software services, and integration is yet another important future that will keep donors on your platform. 

If you haven’t done so already, make sure that the software solutions that are being used in your donation form, such as matching gift database tools or your payment processor, are capable of integration. 

This is not only important for your form’s visual design, but it will keep donors from being redirected off of your website, greatly improving the overall giving experience and simplifying the process.

4. Incorporate Additional Methods Of Giving

One-time donations are all well and good, but wouldn’t it be better to open even more avenues for donors to support your organization? From expanded donation programs to no-cost, rich engagement opportunities that present less of a burden to donors of moderate means, there are myriad ways that you can encourage all donors to further support your mission.

Take a look at these alternate methods of giving to make the most of your donation form and maximize incoming donations:

  • Recurring donations. Recurring donation programs mean that a donor has agreed to give a certain amount of money to your organization on a fixed, recurring basis. Include a simple check box or a button with suggested giving amounts at the bottom of your online donation form that indicates whether or not donors whether or not and how much donors would give on a recurring basis, such as monthly donations. This allows donors to easily and automatically opt into future giving opportunities.
  • Corporate philanthropy programs. Corporate philanthropy programs include all of the various methods that businesses use to donate to nonprofit organizations. From matching gifts to volunteer grants, embedding corporate philanthropy databases into your donation form will help donors to quickly and easily learn if their employer has a philanthropy program and makes matching donations.
  • Volunteer programs. Not all giving comes in the form of monetary donations. Volunteer involvement can boost your supporter engagement, fundraising and event success, and positive brand awareness within your local community. Be sure to promote your volunteer program in your donation form or in your post-donation thank-you and confirmation emails, linking to opportunities to get further involved.

Beginning with a keyword search or social media browsing and finally reaching your donation form, the donor journey can be a long and winding process. Make sure your nonprofit is doing everything possible to have that journey reach an important opportunity where donors have finally opened themselves up to give. 

To make the most of their generosity and increase their engagement with your organization, remember to promote these important, additional methods of giving.

5. Partner With A Secure Payment Processor

As mentioned, your payment processor is located in the backend of your online donation form. It is an internal, behind-the-scenes tool that manages the unseen process of moving payments from your donors’ bank accounts into your own merchant account. 

Considering how closely this tool deals with not only your incoming revenue, but sensitive donor data, it’s clear why you should take a second look at your payment processing system’s security. In addition to strengthening donors’ faith in the professionalism and legitimacy of your organization, a secure payment system will save your organization from the financial and reputational losses that come with a data breach. 

These security features provide a reliable litmus test for your payment processing system’s strength and security:

  • Anti-fraud tools. While this may seem like a no-brainer, you would be surprised at the number of payment processing systems that don’t come equipped with dedicated anti-fraud technology. Keep an eye out for processors that are capable of address verification, bank identification number (BIN) blocking, and similar anti-fraud measures.
  • PCI compliance. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a security standard set forth by credit card companies and upheld by the PCI Security Standards Council. If you encounter a payment processor with a strong level of PCI compliance, your organization can take this as more or less a guarantee of the processing system’s fortitude.
  • Tokenization and encryption. These security measures scramble and encode donor data as it enters the payment processing system, ensuring that any malicious fraudsters, hackers, and entities cannot read this information as it is being processed.

The iATS Payments guide to nonprofit payment processing delves more deeply into this topic, offering further features that make up a robust, secure payment processor. For example, apart from the security features listed above, a versatile payment processor should be able to accommodate different payment types and integrate seamlessly with your donation form and page. 

These features, among the others, will help you to make a more informed decision about what payment processing system can facilitate the specific needs of your organization.

Whether you really are preparing for Giving Tuesday or simply hoping to strengthen your online donation forms for year-round use, these best practices are just a few next steps you can take to maximize the power of this tool. 

From raising your incoming fundraising revenue to engaging donors and boosting long-term donor retention, a fully-optimized online donation form can do far more than simply move donor payments from their accounts to your own. Far from it, these strategies should help to put you on the right track towards continued fundraising success.

Author: Peggah Azarvash

Peggah is a passionate Sales Executive with 10 years’ experience providing payment solution support and guidance to nonprofits.