Last week I went to London to speak at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Fundraising Convention.

At the convention, I shared some tips and tools I’ve found useful when helping people click donate on your nonprofit website.

Your whole website, from the moment someone lands there, can tell people if you’re trustworthy or not.

One of the things your nonprofit website probably has going for it is that it’s old. That makes it indexed higher in google. I know one nonprofit that has a ton of volunteers, because it comes up high in google search results for a certain kind of volunteering. They do no other outreach at all.

Once you’ve got people on your website, how do you get them to donate?

Your website has to look trustworthy. It should have trust symbols. It should have testimonials from donors and from people that you help (if applicable). It should have testimonials from volunteers. And it should have pictures of your nonprofit accomplishing your mission. What do you do? That should be front and center on your nonprofit website.

How do you want people to help? That should be front and center on your website as well.

Okay, finally they get to your donation page.

What are some of the most dangerous donation page mistakes, and how can you fix them?

1. Too many doors out on the donate page


As you can see here, the nonprofit still has all of their navigation at the top, as well as their social media icons, as well as a bunch of navigation at the bottom.

Your donation page should be focused around one goal. And that goal is to get them to complete the donation form. Nothing else on that page should be distracting them from this goal. That means there’s no other doors on this page, unless they click the back button.

When someone clicks donate on your homepage, they should be taken directly to a page that shows them

1. the need

2. the urgency of the need/aka what happens if you don’t get their donation

3. How to donate quickly and effectively with your most preferred method of donation at the top.

If you have to do multiple pages for your donate form, make sure you show the person the steps involved. Don’t make it opaque.



2. Making your process opaque

It would be good to show people the steps all one page so they know the donation process will be easy and transparent.

This nonprofit is at least talking about the need on their donate page. But the wording is straight out of a newspaper. It’s not friendly, it’s not conversational, and it certainly isn’t a story. It’s just a bunch of statistics. This donate page could be so much better. and there’s so much else going on on this page that the donate piece gets lost. You can see some yellow links on a white background, WAY at the bottom here. Does it make it easy to donate?


No, no it does not.

3. No pictures of what the donation will help accomplish

It’s all very well to say that your donation goes a very long way at the Cascades Raptor Center. But i don’t see a compelling visual reason to give. What about someone holding a bird, looking happy? Wouldn’t that make your donation page look even more enticing? What about an urgency that goes with the picture? How many raptors could you help, IF you had the resources?


4. No trust symbols

What is a trust symbol?

Well, when you go to an online store, they will show you pictures of visa, mastercard, and other credit cards that they accept. They’ll also show you how encrypted their check out process is.

When people give their donation to a nonprofit, they want to know that their credit card information is safe too.

So aside from having pictures of credit cards and encryption, what else is a trust symbol?

It’s logos from organizations that you belong to, or ones that have vetted you, such as CharityNavigator, GuideStar.org, the Better Business Bureau, your statewide nonprofit association, or other ones.


When you add those logos, it makes the donor feel more comfortable that they are donating to an organization that uses their money wisely. This website also has weird numbering… I don’t get it.

5. Having no contact information for different kinds of donations

Imagine you’d like to get more $50,000 bequests or legacy gifts.

Do you currently have any way to help people connect with the person who manages this at your nonprofit? No? Well, putting their contact info on your donation page is going to be a huge help for your donors.

What if they want to be a monthly donor, but they’re worried that they will never be able to cancel?

What if they’re confused by your process? As you can see in the example above- they have a donate page but the donate link actually links to the contact page. They don’t have a donate button on the donate page. They want donations of athletic equipment, but the contact info is missing.


What if they are not able to figure out how to donate their car?

Or what if they want to involve their corporation in a day of service, or a dollars for doers program? Who do they connect with? How does it work? Have you had anyone do this before? All of these questions and more can be answered in an FAQ on your donate page. Or you can have links on your donate page to the different ways you accept donations, and then have a whole page just devoted to dollars for doers programs, or your car donation program, or your monthly giving program.

I hope now this gives you some ideas of how to fix your donate page.

Any other donate page mistakes you think I should have mentioned? Please leave a comment!