So you’re getting some traffic to your online donation page, but the donations aren’t quite rolling in. What gives?

There are a few common reasons why prospective donors ditch your donation page or don’t give as much as you might like them to.

Here are 10 ways that you can optimize your online donation page and form not only for more conversions, but more dollars raised over the longterm:

1. Begin with retention in mind.

Before you even think about how to optimize your online donation process for a conversion, be sure you know how you’re going to steward that donor after the donation is made.

If you don’t, and they lapse, you may experience a negative ROI on their gift (if their gift was smaller than the amount it took to acquire it + the time/money spent on appealing future gifts).

Make sure that your confirmation page, email confirmation and formal gift acknowledgment (email, phone, letter) are optimized to arrive quickly, thank the donor, make them feel special, communicate the impact of the gift, and generate a second interaction.

2. Remove all distractions.

Removing as many distractions on the page is key. Your donation page should include only your donation form, with any competing elements stripped away, such as navigation and outbound links. Once they’re on that donation page the only thing you want them to do is a make a donation!

3. Have a branded giving page.

A branded giving page is a page on your website that contains an online donation form. You aren’t sending a potential donor off-site to a page generated or hosted by your payment processor (like PayPal, for example).

The reason why branded giving pages are better is two-fold:

  • it eliminates an extra step. Whenever a donor has to leave your website and visit a new page, you run the risk of losing them.
  • it’s more trustworthy. When the donation form isn’t on your branded website, it can cast doubt in the donor’s mind.

That second point is most apparent in the look and feel of the page, starting with the URL. Ask yourself: which of these URLs looks more trustworthy? Which is easier to share?


If your technology or software provider allows it, be sure to embed your donation form right on a page on your website.

4. Optimize for mobile.

It’s critical that donors be able to easily and quickly make a donation on your website through a mobile device.

We live in a mobile world. Just check out these stats:

  • 50% of mobile phone users use mobile as their primary Internet source.
  • Mobile web adoption is growing 8x faster than web adoption did in ‘90s & ‘00s.
  • 28.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones and 10.16% on tablets.
  • Mobile-based searches make up 25% of all searches.

DonorDrive found that having a responsive donation page/form increased dollars raised via tablets by 96%. Dollars raised via smart phones rose 126%.

Ask your website designer or provider if your site is “responsive” and try to make a donation yourself using a mobile device.

5. Collect minimal information, only what you will use immediately.

Don’t overload the donor with too many requests for personal/contact information.

Only ask for information you will use immediately to acknowledge the gift. Remember, you can always go back and request or research additional information like a phone number later (especially if you’re sending a donor survey, which you should).

6. Include suggested gift amounts, with justification.

Suggested gift amounts will eliminate choice barriers in the donor’s mind. One of the worst things you can do is have an open text field for the donation amount.

Instead, include a giving ladder with 5-10 suggest gift amounts. Don’t just make them arbitrary round numbers. Instead, suggest odd yet researched amounts that can be tied to a specific use.

Check out this giving ladder that defines gift impact:


This will help you further drive home the impact of the donor’s gift.

Be sure to not make your lowest suggest amount too low. Users may gravitate to the minimum suggested figure.

Both “you don’t get what you don’t ask for” and “you will get what you do ask for” are true in this case!

7. Have a recurring donation option.

Recurring donations are extremely sticky with regards to retention.

Target Analytics found that retention rates rise from 49% to between 85-89% when a recurring gift is secured.

Ask donors “Would you like to donate this amount monthly?”

8. Ask for a communication channel preference.

Knowing how the donor would like to be communicated to following the donation is critical to retaining them. Collecting this information as early as possible in the donor relationship will cut down on email unsubscribes, unanswered phone calls and recycled direct mail.

Suggested options: Email, Phone, Mail, Social Media

9. Include social proof.

Sometimes, donors might need an extra push to make them feel more confident and secure in their donation.

Consider including a badge from your payment processor or database provider, or from another third-party like GuideStar or PCI (showing compliance). Be sure your website has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, and include a link to a privacy policy or privacy statement.

10. Measure and adjust.

Remember, you aren’t permanently locked into any one iteration of your donation page or form. Always be measuring the results of your pages and forms, and don’t be afraid to adjust often.

If your online donation software or donor database vendor doesn’t allow you to run A/B tests, try running a test manually. Leave one variation of a donation page/form up for a month, then change it for a month and compare the results. Be sure to choose two months (or another timeframe) when you aren’t running a specific campaign that might skew results.

If you’re sending out donor surveys, you might even ask what donors thought of your online donation process (“was it too long, too cumbersome, etc.”)

Once you’ve whipped your online donation pages and forms into shape, you can expect to see higher conversion rates and dollars raised.

What tweaks have you made to your website to maximize donations? Let me know in the comments below!