Originally published on Theory of Change for Organizations.
When someone visits your donation page, it’s usually because they want to make a contribution to your organization. But just because they’ve made it to your donation form doesn’t mean your job is finished!
Consider the purchase process for an online retailer like Amazon.com. Once you’ve decided to buy a book, you then have to check out. Amazon has made that process one-click easy, thereby facilitating your book-buying journey. If the purchase process were overly-complicated, you might give up and buy the book somewhere else.
The same applies to your donation forms. Use these eight tips to make sure your organization isn’t leaving money on the table.
#1 Don’t ask too many questions
The longer the form, the more likely your potential donor is to leave. Ask only what’s essential, and don’t forget that you’ll have plenty of time after the donation is made to ask people other information. In fact, that’s a win-win, because it’s also a good way to continue the conversation with your recent donors after they’ve made their gift!
#2 Guide your donors
It’s easier to complete a form when you know what you’ll have to do next. Make sure you indicate at the beginning of the donation form the 2 or 3 clear steps they will have to go through in order to complete their donation. There’s nothing worse than filling out one page and thinking you’re done, only to realize there’s another page awaiting you.
#3 Start with the easy stuff
You don’t want to scare off potential donors! Detailed questions at the beginning of your form can create too much complexity, and many people will just close out the form before they even start to fill it out. Begin your form with the most basic, easy to answer questions and leave complex, open-ended questions to the end. But only if you have to! Don’t forget: it’s better if there’s nothing complex on your form at all.
#4 Get to the point
When someone clicks through to a donation page, they’re usually looking to do one thing: donate. So get out of the way and let them donate! Don’t try to convince them again with large amounts of text or content, and avoid any links to other pages. Your donation form should be like a tunnel that leads straight to a donation, with no other twists or turns.
#5 Make your buttons friendly
A great way to show your organization’s personality is to customize the buttons on your donation form. Sure, the standard jargon like “confirm” and “donate now” are fine, but why not add a bit of humanity to them? Try words and phrases like “I give” or “I support (your organization).” Giving is a social act, so make sure your buttons match that feeling.
#6 Tell the same story
Remember to provide context for your audience. As much as possible, adapt your donation form to match the relationship you have with your supporters. For example, if you have campaigns driving traffic to your donation form, use the same messaging to provide a seamless experience for potential donors.
#7 Don’t follow this advice
There is no ideal donation form (trust us, we’ve been looking for it). Every organization is different, and every organization is trying to capture and communicate with a unique audience. But this doesn’t mean you can’t try to find that one perfect form! The best way is to make sure you can test variations of your form. Is is better with one or two columns? Should the donate button be red or blue? Who knows? You won’t know until you test it!
#8 Always be thanking
You’ve now tested and optimized your donation form (multiple times, right?). Your potential donors enjoy a painless process, and you start to see an uptick in online donations. Your new supporters are even happy about their journey! But the worst thing you can do is stop here. If you’re not thanking them for their donation, you might as well not have done all of that work to optimize your donation process! A well-designed thank you page, a follow-up email that explains what the donation will be used for, and the ability to easily share the donation on social networks are all good ways to build a strong, lasting relationship with your donors after they hit that big red (or blue!) donate button.
If you can implement these eight tips, we’re confident you’ll see higher conversion on your donation forms, and more money in the bank. What kinds of elements are you testing on your donation pages? Any big successes or not-so-big successes? We’d love to hear about them, so please share with us at @ChangeOrgs!