Creating Online Donation Forms

Simplifying the process of donating money makes for a better experience for donors and increases their likelihood of donating.

Donations are the lifeline of nonprofits and relying on the generosity of community members means fundraising is a necessity. Simplifying the process of donating money makes for a better experience for donors and increases their likelihood of donating.


There are many benefits to putting your donation forms online such as:

  • Appealing to mobile users

  • Ability to post on in multiple locations

  • Analyze where your form is best performing

  • Using email campaigns to add a personalized greeting in the email and form

  • Lower costs


The Benefits of Moving your Donation Forms Online


You might be uneasy about moving your donation forms away from the classic paper mail route, so let’s talk about the benefits of moving your form online.


Optimizing for the Donors on the Move


If you check your site analytics you will probably see that a large number of people are accessing it via mobile devices. By putting your donation form online, you can reach people anywhere that they connect to the internet.


This means that all those folks that are checking out your site on their phone can easily make donations from their phone as well. So often people may find that it takes too much time to mail in donations.


Posting Your Donation Form


Online you can not only make it quick and easy to donate, you can also increase the reach of your fundraising by posting your donation form in multiple locations.


Using Social Media in addition to your website makes for multiple sources that potential donors are given the opportunity to donate. Everywhere that you post during your fundraising can include a simple link to your donation form.


Although you can (and generally should) have a link to your donation form everywhere you post, you should always focus your efforts on the most successful means of sharing.


Make Sure your Form is Getting Good Returns

It is very important to find out which posts are getting the highest number of donations or are getting the largest amount of net donations. With your form online you actually have multiple sources of analytic data on which post is getting the best return.


You can use the analytics for your site to track the traffic compared with dollar amounts; you can also use separate tracking links for the form that can be used as filters in your reports to see which source is giving the highest number of donations and dollar amount.


Emails Make Personalization Easy


You will also want to of course address your previous donors that you would have standardly mailed a request for donations. Now you can send them all a request to donate in an email campaign.


Email campaigns allow you to easily send personalized emails to all of your donors as well as create a donation form that will have a personalized greeting. This is important because donors from previous years will feel better in donating again if they are reminded that you remember them from their previous donations.


They don’t want to have to refill out information that they did the year before.


Save a Tree, as Well as Overhead Costs


Finally, paying for paper and postage is a thing of the past. Not only do you not have to print out large amounts of letters and mail them, you don’t have to pay all the costs associated with sending and receiving them.


Money is also being saved by using less of your time on putting those letters into envelopes; there will also be time saved on all the bank trips that would have followed as the donations begin to roll in.


Best Practices for your Online Donation Form


While building your donation forms it can be very tempting to include a whole lot of descriptive text about what your organization is up to, upcoming events, etc.


These seem like a way to keep your audience engaged while they fill out the form, but your donation form is not the place to put additional information. In fact, more fields on the form, to read or fill out, will lead to fatigue for those who are filling it out.


Keep It Short


Your goal should be to keep your form short and sweet, and to the point. At this point the donor had to have gone through either your website, a social media post, or some other place with a link to the form.


They got all the information they needed to convince them to click on the link to donate so there shouldn’t be anything that urgent to tell them on the donation form. All a donor should need to do is fill out some basic information, select an amount to donate, and enter their credit card to finalize their donation.

Give the Donor Options


The next good practice for online donation forms is to give donors a short list of suggested donation amounts. This tends to lead to higher amounts given than if donors are left to decide the actual dollar amount they should donate.


Although it helps to give suggested amounts, some may want to donate more or less than what is listed so it is still a best practice to offer an “Other Amount” option where they can enter an amount of their choice.


You can also put in an option to directly contact someone from the organization for larger donations that cannot be done by credit card, or for those who are not necessarily comfortable donating online.

Additional Options to Include


You may want to also include the option for your donors to give monthly rather than just annually. By giving them this option there are a couple of main benefits:

  1. Giving monthly keeps donors more involved and can lead to better retention.

  2. Small monthly donations can add up to more than their standard annual donation would be.


In the same section offering monthly donations you should be including the option to opt into receiving more information. This can be any of the following:

  • E-Newsletters

  • Updates on progress of fundraising

  • Event Notifications/Invitations


This option is great whether or not they opt into monthly donations to help increase donor retention by keeping them up to date with what is new and simply keeping them involved.

Donation Form Placement


Now that you have your online donation form built, it’s time to figure out where to put it on your site. The best place is everywhere. This doesn’t mean you should cover your entire site with buttons saying “DONATE NOW” in all caps.


What this does mean is there should be an option to donate on every page of your website. This could be as simple as a “Please Donate” button in both the header and footer of every page of your site. This way, no matter where one of your sites visitors goes they have the option of donating, key word being option.


You don’t want it to feel like you are shoving it down their throat to donate, it’s really just about making sure they don’t have to hunt for the option to donate.


They should have no need to go to a different page from the one they are on if they want to donate; that page already convinced them to donate so don’t inconvenience them.


The same goes for putting links to your donation form in newsletters, event notifications, social media posts, etc. A link to the donation form should always be included since every communication has the possibility to convince someone that it is the perfect time to donate to your organization’s cause.


Style and Brand your Form


When you post your form there are going to be two places that it will be available:

  1. Embedded on a dedicated page of your site

  2. Opened as a standalone from a link or button


Styling your donation form to be embedded on your site is a simple process. Go back to the rule of keeping it simple. You should get it designed to simply match the color and design of your site so that it can seamlessly embed.


When you style your form to be a standalone, branding is going to be a key element. You are putting in the work to fundraise for your organization so you should always make sure that your donation form is well branded.


That being said, you also want to have the branding on your donation form match the branding of your site; you don’t want donors to feel like they are on another site. Also, when you are styling your standalone donation forms, you can still create special styles for specific fundraising events rather than your ongoing donation forms.


Another important option to keep in mind when you style your form is to include compelling imagery. Good images can do a great job evoking emotions from potential donors. Some images might make the donor feel the need to donate because the image makes them feel sad and they want to help fix the issue being illustrated.


Other images may influence the donor to contribute, for example, because the image shows people that are obviously enjoying doing good in their community which makes the donor want to share in this feeling.


Conclusion: If Your Donation Form isn’t Online Yet, it Should Be


Building your donation forms online has quite a few benefits as a fast and affordable option to put in place in your fundraising process for your organization, and quick, easy, and secure for your donors.


Online donation forms can help acquisition of donors for your organization and make for better retention of these donors.

Going Above and Beyond


You can automate an email to yourself every time someone selects to receive further information by using an Email Action. Email Actions can also be used to send a confirmation email to your donors to thank them for their donation and for signing up for further communications:

Survey Examples

Nonprofit Donation Form