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5 Often Overlooked Tips for Maximizing Online Donations

Guest post by Maureen Gorman, editor for Progressive Business Publications.


Online donations have been the bright spot for nonprofits in the last few years. People are giving online in large and small amounts, even as they cut back on writing checks.

And your website serves as the portal to those donors.

That’s why it’s worth making improvements to your site, whether your visitors are long-time supporters or potential givers who just found about your cause.

Here are five website changes that can give you major results for minor effort:

1. Add punch to your headline

If a donor knew nothing about your organization and landed on your site, would he know what you do and how he could contribute?

A strong, compelling headline (with keywords for SEO purposes) can draw the right people to your organization. One way to give your headline more power: Combine it with an abbreviated version of your Mission statement.

Charleston Parks Conservancy is a great example of a website that puts a version of the mission statement front and center under the heading “We Believe:”

2. Make it easy to give

Do people have to search for your donate button? A hidden “Donate” button and a long process can discourage donations. Greenpeace uses a front-and-center Donate button you can’t miss.

Once donors start the process, do they have to answer unnecessary questions just to donate their gift? Keep in mind that it’s more important to keep the process short than to give donors choices.

However, it is possible to give donors options – such as making ongoing gifts – while still creating a streamlined, simple process. The trick: Make sure they can opt out of answering questions and finish donating fast if that’s their priority.

Look at for an example of a donation page that keeps it simple, but still gives donors choices on how to give.

3. Remove ‘click here’ from your Call to Action (CTA)

Basic phrases like “Click here,” or “Go,” don’t generate as many clicks as buttons with stronger names.

The CTA should be clear and compelling – giving visitors a little extra motivation to donate.  “Make a difference,” or “Help now,” provide potential donors with the strong incentive they need.

4. Keep it short and simple

You obviously have to explain what you do. But once you reach a certain point, your explanatory copy beings to have a negative effect – and drive potential donors away.

That point is at about 100 words. If donors have to read more than that, you’re making them work too hard.

In addition, be sure to break up copy. Bullet points will make it all scannable and easy to digest. Also consider breaking text up into short, one-sentence paragraphs.

5. Add social media buttons

Link to your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.

Reason: Chances are if people are “liking” or “following” you, they’re writing some nice stuff about you, too.

So why not give new visitors the chance to see it?

In fact, encourage it with a CTA like “Find out what our members are saying about us right now.”


Maureen Gorman is a seasoned editor for Progressive Business Publications with more than 10 years of business writing experience. She currently serves as Editor of two b2b newsletters: Communication Bulletin for Managers and Supervisors and The Nonprofit Board Report.  Learn more about Progressive Business Publications newsletters by visiting their reviews site.



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{ 1 comment }

ericamills January 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

Thanks for the heads up on Charleston Parks Conservancy–love that right below they also have “we work hard” and “we need you”. Fantastic!
Question: I find it hard for organizations to optimize for both robots (search engines) and people (in this case, donors). I generally advise to optimize online donation copy for people, since that’s who gives, rather than robots. I know in a perfect world, you do both, but if you had to prioritize (to avoid “OMG, deer-in-headlights-I-cant-do-that response to having to plant two trees with one seed, as it were) would you focus on a headline that works first-and-foremost for people?
Thanks for the great post and good counsel!

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