Nonprofits’ websites often have multiple goals: making people aware of the issues your organization works on, sharing information about those issues, building mailing lists, encouraging people to take action, publicizing events, demonstrating authority, honoring volunteers and board members, demonstrating value for grant applications, and more. Nearly always, though, increasing donations is a primary goal for nonprofits, and the donations page is the primary means of reaching that goal.
As you plan your donations page, consider the questions below.
Do you need a separate Donations page?
A donations page gives you lots of scope to explain just what your organization will do with the funds you collect, and why people should donate to your cause. A strong donations page can bring in larger donations
On the other hand, adding a Donate box or button to every page can be even more effective, especially if there is a Paypal connection that lets people move from thinking about donating to making their donation with very little friction. Making it very easy for visitors to donate at the moment they’re moved to do so encourages impulsive donations. They may be smaller donations, but you’re likely to have more donors.
You can also have a donations page and a Donate button on each page that takes people to the Donations page. In this case, consider creating a landing page that makes it worth the extra layer of friction this method gives your donors.
Finally, you can use a pop-up to ask for donations while your visitors are in the middle of another action, such as downloading premium content or leaving your page. This is best if you have a compelling and reasonably urgent message: “Your $5.00 donation can feed five children in war-torn Sudan” rather than “Leave money to our foundation in your will!” Disrupting people’s actions adds friction, but it also is more likely to get attention than a modest button in a sidebar. just make sure that the donation is more important to your cause than the action it disrupts.
Where will you place your donations button on the page?
Whether you decide to use a widget or to create a separate page, you should think about where to place the button.
In the screenshot below, you can see that we’ve placed the donation button for an arts organization further down the page, with other calls to action. We don’t want to demand a donation before visitors learn about the organization and see why they should want to donate. If they’re not ready to book a show or make a donation, we’ve given them some smaller conversion points that help the organization keep in touch with them.
On the other hand, the specialized donations page below has an eye-catching button front and center. People who have clicked on this page want to donate, and we want to make it easy for them.
How will you collect funds?
You can make a donations page that asks visitors to send you a check, but you probably won’t see the results you want. PayPal is the simplest and most popular way to collect donations. The Donate button that you can generate from your PayPal account will be reassuringly familiar, and you can add a line explaining that your visitors can click through and pay with a credit card even if they don’t have a PayPal account, as we did for the site below. You’ll also notice from this screenshot that you can create the PayPal button in Spanish.
So why even consider anything but a simple PayPal button? We’re working right now on a website for a nonprofit which is looking not just to raise funds but to build community. They’ve chosen the Seamless Donations plugin because it has a lot of additional features that allow them to manage their donor list, collect additional information from donors, and otherwise use donations to create relationships. And their visitors can make donations by check, too, though PayPal will probably still be the most popular method.
As always, your overall goals must inform your website decisions.