This is the fourth post in a series of articles on the topic of digital marketing for nonprofits and creating the perfect nonprofit website. In the first article, we discussed creating your about page or mission page, the second article discussed creating program and impact pages, and the third article covered creating volunteer and take action pages.
In this article, we'll discuss how to create effective online fundraising and donation pages.
What is an Online Fundraising or Donation Page?
This type of page probably needs less of an introduction than the others in this series, but simply put - it’s a place on your website where you make an appeal to your supporters for financial donations.
There’s a reason nonprofits file corporation docs before they file for nonprofit status. Nonprofits need funds to support their operations, keep the lights on, and to keep doing the good work that they do.
Online fundraising is an integral part of most nonprofit development strategies and your donation page is the place where that virtual fundraising happens.
What Type of Fundraising Page Should You Create?
There are as many types of donation pages as there are types of donations. Individual donations, recurring donations, honor gifts and memorials, matching gifts, stock exchanges, etc.
Since you are asking a supporter to take action (spend their money) and you are collecting information from them (credit card, home address, etc) you should follow the same guidelines we present in Salsa's SIMPLE method of creating a fundraising call to action.
The SIMPLE method tells us to make our donation appeal singular - don't try to do too much on one page. Don't ask for volunteers and donors on the same page. Don't run advocacy campaigns with donation campaigns. It's okay to give people options, like a single donation, recurring donation, or even different ways to give, like stock, advised funds, etc. Keep your fundraising about fundraising.
Remember to mention your impact and what the money will be used for. This simple thing can raise donations substantially. Make your form easy on the eyes, easy to use, and quick to process.
When including other content on your nonprofit fundraising page, make sure it's contextually relevant. If you're fundraising for a specific program, make sure your content speaks to your audience and includes content that will elicit emotion and trigger the potential donor to act!
Your donation page can be as simple as a page with some content explaining why you’re raising money and what the funds are going to be used for. It should have a donation form that is easy to use and allows the donor to contribute online quickly.
Polar Bears International does this extremely well with a beautiful image, a short impact statement, and an easy to use, eye-pleasing form that matches their site theme and color pallet.
Your donation page can also be much longer, offering potential donors several options as a way for them to direct their funds. This is what the Women's Sports Foundation does with its donation page.
What elements should you include on your Fundraising form?
Most fundraising software for nonprofits will at least cover the basics: like name, address, and a way to process credit cards. A great fundraising CRM, like Salsa CRM+Engage, will offer you nearly unlimited customizations on your fundraising forms, and the ability to embed them anywhere on the web.
It’s always a good idea to add the option for people to make a donation in honor of a loved one, or in memoriam for someone who has passed away. Keeping those names alive in our conversations and communities is reason enough for some to contribute. It’s also nice to pay respect to those who came before us and who helped to blaze the trail we walk today.
Try to be specific with your appeal and frame it with the outcome you hope to bring about as a result of that donation.
- $250 buys a month of groceries for a food-insecure family of 5
- $100 keeps the lights on for a family of four during the cold winter months
- $1,000 pays for the lab equipment that gets us closer to finding a cure.
Don’t forget to include a physical address or PO box for those who might send checks instead of donating online. Yes, there are still people who will not submit their credit card information online. There are also organizations that do not maintain online accounts which can only send physical checks. If they’re on your donation page, they’re thinking about contributing. Don’t give them reasons to leave without completing the donation.
Online Donation Software for Nonprofits and Advocacy Campaigns
Software to handle your online donations is not in short supply. Most organizations are familiar with processors like PayPal which offers donate buttons for nonprofits to embed on their site. For those who can code or have higher level web skills, there is PayPal Pro or Stripe.
To make the online donation process seamless for your donors, however, you’ll want something a bit more integrated with your site and able to track all the information you need on your donors. We built Salsa Engage to do those very things and no coding is required. Everything is drag and drop, and then you can embed your donation forms right on your web page. In fact, every donation page you see on this blog post is powered by a Salsa donate form!
Advocacy Campaigns and Political Fundraising Software
Political advocacy campaigns have a slightly different standard. They are sometimes restricted to accepting donations from specific countries, they require personal donations only (not corporate or business checks), and they must often collect the donor’s employment information, including occupation and the company at which the donor works. This is the result of various laws intended to bring transparency to political operations. More transparency is a good thing, but it requires issue advocacy groups to customize their forms beyond what most nonprofits are accustomed to.
Using a fundraising platform that allows for the addition of custom fields makes creating political advocacy fundraising pages easy. Salsa makes this easy: any additional information required can be added with a field in the fundraising form drag and drop editor.
If you’re using a system like WordPress for your nonprofit website, you’ll want to use fundraising software that can embed forms directly on your pages and posts. You don’t want to add an extra step to the donation process and force the potential donor to an external site. That will lower your donation conversion rate, and once the donor leaves your site they may not come back again. Again, Salsa donation forms can be embedded directly into any WordPress website page or post.
Other systems like WooCommerce are very well integrated with WordPress (they’re owned by the same company). Annual license fees for plugins that drive its functionality can get very expensive to maintain and contain none of the benefits of a fundraising or digital marketing package.
To help choose the right fundraising software for your organization, think about how you collect donations, what fields are required, what information would help your organization and then design your form on paper first. With that information available, you can find the best fundraising software that matches your needs and does exactly what you need it to do.
Examples of Great Nonprofit Fundraising Page
The American Institute for Cancer Research has a fantastic donate page that includes imagery, education, impact statements, and multiple options for giving. It prefaces the jump to their actual donation form, which is a simple, modestly branded page with a singular purpose: completing the donation.
Results.org employs a similar structure on their donate page; using impact statements, contextually relevant graphics, and multiple options for the donor to direct her funds.
Remember, not every form need multiple options. Keeping it simple and following the SIMPLE method can be very effective. Just ask the Delaware Humane Association about their recent Indoguration campaign highlighting the first rescue dog in the White House. Their donation form powered a massively successful fundraising campaign that brought in funds and went viral online.
Peer to Peer Fundraising
No post about virtual fundraising would be complete without mentioning peer-to-peer campaigns. This type of fundraising requires more planning and administration than a simple donation page, but is an excellent way to tap into the networks of your supporters and expand your own base.
Salsa’s Peer to Peer Campaign playbook coaches you through creating these types of fundraising campaigns, and our Clear and Complete Guide to Peer to Peer Fundraising teaches you how to engage new audiences and leverage your network of supporters to rally behind your cause.
Peer to Peer fundraising campaigns typically include an overall campaign donation form and individual participant fundraiser forms. Some applications provide ways for individuals to join teams and fundraise on their own and with a larger group. This can be a great way to encourage friendly competition among your supporters and help to raise even more funds for your organization.
Software like Salsa Engage can help you plan, implement, and manage your peer to peer campaign, and then organize your new supporters and donors for future engagement through our built-in email marketing automation.
The Cure Starts Now uses Salsa to power its peer-to-peer fundraising Beard it Up Campaign in support of pediatric cancer research. Supporters flaunt their finest facial hair or the most colorful nails in honor of the smallest warriors battling cancer. This year’s event has already raised more than $130,000 working with law enforcement agencies, corporations, and individuals across the country.
Sending Donation Thank You Letters
No matter what method you use to generate donations, it’s always a good idea to thank your donors for their generosity. Sending a donation thank you letter immediately after a contribution shows you appreciate the gift, and provides the donor with a receipt of their transaction, which can be required for tax purposes.
You can find a great article about this process right here on Salsa's blog with tips on writing automated nonprofit donation thank you letters. You can also get tips on going beyond the donation thank you email and diving deeper into donor retention strategies with another article on our blog.
If you’re not able to send an automated follow up immediately after the transaction, consider a monthly mailing to all the donors who contributed that month. Make sure to track their information in your CRM so that you can engage them again during Giving Tuesday or for your end of year campaigns.
For many nonprofits, the process of fundraising generates enormous amounts of stress. We all know it needs to be done, but we’d rather be doing other things because fundraising is hard. Asking people for money is hard.
Using the tips in this article, you can prepare a donation page on your website that will help accomplish your fundraising strategy!
Unlike your volunteer page, where the number of volunteers generated is not necessarily the endgame, your donation page has a simpler mission: bring in as much money as possible. Remember to test, test, test your donation page to see what converts at the highest levels.
For more information on how to incorporate online donations into your website, and a few additional fundraising ideas, checkout our article on virtual fundraising best practices.
As always, we love sharing creative fundraising pages from our nonprofit community. Take a moment and share this article with a friend or family member or colleague you think can benefit from its lessons. When you do, share a link to your own donation pages and tag Salsa so we can amplify your message and help bring more potential donors to your site!
Good luck and happy fundraising!