Designing an Online Donation Page: The Basics

Terry Ibele 26 February 2016 0 comments

bigstock-Green-donate-button-46905649This is a guest post by Abby Jarvis

What does your organization’s fundraising strategy look like? Are you asking for donations through a variety of methods, or are you limiting yourself to a couple of tactics?

Whether you’re using a multi-channel approach to fundraising or are still mastering one or two methods, one of the key ways you can raise money is through an online donation form. 

Your online donation form is one of the most important tools in your online fundraising toolbox.  Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about raising more money online!

Take a look at these basic principles for designing an excellent online donation page.

We’ll be talking about the following components of online donation pages:
  1. Don’t Distract Your Donors.
  2. Give Donors the Option for Recurring Donations.
  3. Offer Different Giving Amounts.
  4. Create Separate Pages for Specific Campaigns.
  5. Keep it Secure.

1. Don’t Distract Your Donors.

Your supporters are on your donation page for a reason: to give to your nonprofit. 

Don’t lead them astray by distracting them while they are trying to donate.

What does this look like in practice? It means that you should:

  • Remove external links or navigation that might lead donors away.
  • Keep extra information to a minimum. Give donors the context of what their donation is helping, but don’t put a novel on your online donation form.
  • Include no more than one image (hint: the picture you do include should reflect your organization’s work).
Takeaway: Distracting your donors while they are on your donation page will likely result in fewer donations for your organizations and a lowered retention rate. 

For more tips, take a look at this online fundraiser’s checklist!

2. Give donors the option for recurring donations.

Giving online is quick and easy (as long as you’ve streamlined your form, that is!), but allowing donors to make recurring donations makes it even more efficient and seamless.

Take a look at this example of a small section of an online donation page that allows donors to choose how often they’d like to donate:

colorado-family-life-center-donation-form

This organization allows supporters to decide when they’d like their donations to be made again.

This step in creating an online donation page is crucial. Sometimes, a donor will give online and forget about the donation within a few weeks or months. 

Takeaway: Allowing supporters to set up recurring donations is an easy way to boost your donor retention rates while giving your supporters an easy way to continually support you. 

3. Offer Different Giving Amounts.

Research suggests that offering giving amounts leads to larger donations. 

Instead of having donors type in the amount they want to donate, give them options that will encourage them to contribute more. You can also make a specific amount the default option on the donation page to encourage donors to give more.

Let’s think about the psychology of offering different giving amounts.

A donor arrives on a donation form that lists the following amounts:

  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $200
  • $500
  • $1,000
  • Other 
If you highlight the $50 option, donors are much more likely to give at least that much. They do not want to be perceived as less charitable by only donating $25. This subconscious awareness will propel them to give more.

Takeaway: Offering different giving amounts and demonstrating what those amounts go toward is a key component of creating an online donation page that will result in larger donations.

4. Create Separate Pages for Specific Campaigns.

You should consider setting up a different page or tab if your nonprofit is: 
  • Hosting an event. 
  • Launching a capital campaign.
  • Kicking off a peer-to-peer fundraiser.
  • Initiating any other type of special fundraiser.
This way, donors can give to the specific causes they care about or contribute to your general fund. 

Pointing donors toward a specific donation form in your messaging can also help simplify the donation process. 

If you send a donor an appeal email and point them toward a form specifically for that initiative, they won’t have to sort through a list of restrictions or think about where to direct their gift before making their donation.

Takeaway: By giving supporters and advocates the option to give to specific campaigns, you give them control of where their donations are going.

5. Keep it Secure.

Imagine this: you’re buying a new coffee mug online. You get to the checkout portion, and the webpage suddenly looks completely different from the rest of the site. In fact, you’re not entirely sure if it’s on the same site. It doesn’t even have the proper security certificates and badges in place. 

You probably wouldn’t continue with the purchase and would continue the hunt for your coffee mug elsewhere, right?

The same principle applies to your online donation page.

This means that you should include logos indicating your PCI compliance somewhere on your donation form. PCI compliance (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) applies to companies and nonprofits that accept credit card payments and donations. 

Your organization will need to host your data securely with a PCI compliant hosting provider in order to ensure that your donors’ information is safe. 

Takeaway: Having a secure online donation form allows your donors to give with the peace of mind that their data will not be compromised. 


Asking for donations through any method always requires some background knowledge and helpful tips. Hopefully these five best practices and examples will guide you in creating your own online donation page. 

What about your nonprofit? What success have you had with online donation pages? What are some best practices you would suggest?


Abby -QGIVAbby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

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Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Posted by Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Published Friday, 26 February 2016 at 8:30 AM

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