Did you know that online giving increased by 9% across the nonprofit sector in 2021—and continues to grow for organizations big and small? Online giving and engagement have become a cornerstone of the fundraising world, making it essential for nonprofit organizations to offer a seamless online giving process.

So, to help your team improve the online donor experience, maximize online giving, and better engage with your donors, we’ll walk through a few essential steps to perfect the online donation process. From data-based fundraising outreach to investing in the right payment tools, we’ll cover the following strategies:

  • Focus on your donation form’s design.
  • Optimize giving for all devices. 
  • Use a secure, accessible payment processor. 
  • Leverage post-gift outreach. 

Ready to improve the way you accept online donations and promote a streamlined giving experience for your donors? Let’s jump in.

Focus on your donation form’s design.

When donors click into your online donation page, they should be greeted with an easy-to-read, straightforward, and aesthetically-pleasing form. After all, if your donation form is too confusing or poorly designed, it can reflect poorly on your organization—or worse—drive donors away and lead to form abandonment. 

These donation form strategies will help you to keep donors on the page until they complete their gifts:

  • Eliminate unnecessary questions and fields. If you include too many fields in your donation form, the process may become tedious enough for some donors to say “I’ll get back to it later” and ultimately forget about their gifts. Instead, stick to the essentials, such as basic contact and payment information.
  • Use consistent branding. Colors, text, images, and other design and branding elements should remain consistent across your entire website—especially on your donation page. This is not only a mark of professionalism, but it also signals to your donors that they’re in the right place and their information will be safe.
  • Embed your form into your website. By embedding your donation form directly into your website, you can keep donors from being redirected to a third-party website to complete their gifts. This small but significant step can make donors feel more comfortable, preserve the design of your form, and streamline the donation process.

As with the rest of your nonprofit’s website, the right design and accessibility elements can have a big impact on how donors navigate your pages and—most importantly—whether or not they decide to stick around and continue engaging with you. 

Optimize giving for all devices. 

With the rise of smartphones, you can no longer expect all of your donors to access your donation page on their desktops. In fact, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, mobile users made up approximately 33% of online donation transactions last year. 

With this in mind, you’ll need to prepare for the significant portion of users who will be using mobile and handheld devices to click into your platform and attempt to complete the nonprofit payment process

To promote an inclusive giving experience for donors on different devices, you can:

  • Use large buttons and text that are readable across devices
  • Incorporate a sticky navigation menu
  • Utilize a vertical layout
  • Invest in donation form tools with mobile-friendly templates

To make absolutely sure that the giving experience is optimized for multiple devices, you can try to access your donation form using a smartphone and leverage tools like Google’s mobile-friendliness test

Use a secure, accessible payment processor. 

Your payment processor is the behind-the-scenes software that ensures donor data and payments are being facilitated safely and conveniently. This makes it a critical component of the donation process that needs to be as secure and reliable as possible. 

In particular, pay attention to these key features to ensure that you’re using effective payment processing tools for your organization: 

  • PCI security compliance. As discussed in the iATS Payments guide to PCI compliance, PCI compliance is “a checklist of rules and requirements created by the major credit card companies to ensure that merchants are securely handling customer information.” It’s the closest thing to a golden seal of security that a payment processor can receive, and it signifies that your payment tools can be trusted to defend donor data.
  • Anti-fraud tools. As mission-based organizations that rely on people’s goodwill and trust to raise funds, nonprofits are uniquely vulnerable to the reputational backlash that comes with hacks and fraud scandals. To prevent fraud, opt for payment and donation tools that have dedicated anti-fraud measures, such as CVV2 verification and encryption.
  • Multiple payment options. Some donors prefer to give with their credit cards, some opt for ACH, and others will be trying to facilitate payments from the other side of the world. To accommodate all of your donors and expand your giving potential, ensure that your payment processor accepts various payment methods, such as credit, ACH, and international processing. 

Poor security, limited payment options, and other hiccups can turn donors away from submitting online gifts. These features will help uphold donors’ trust in your organization and pave the way for a comfortable giving experience. 

Leverage post-gift outreach. 

The online donation experience doesn’t end when donors have submitted their gifts. Far from it—the way that your organization communicates with donors after the fact can determine whether or not they decide to give again and stay connected with your organization.

An integrated payment processor can be a big help in this regard, as it should be able to integrate directly with your CRM and organize payment and contact information. These details should then be used to create more effective post-gift outreach by: 

  • Improving future fundraising appeals with donors’ names and giving size
  • Leveraging donors’ names and giving history to personalize thank-you messages and acknowledgments
  • Alerting donors to additional giving opportunities, such as promoting matching gifts programs based on donors who used their work emails to submit gifts

While it’s easy to focus on donors as they’re in the process of navigating your website and donation page, taking steps to further steward donors in the aftermath of their gifts can pay back in dividends.

Now that you’ve explored key tips, tricks, and tools to promote a more positive online donation experience, you should have everything you need to get started with improving online fundraising for your organization. Start the process by implementing these best practices and staying informed about donation and payment software in the nonprofit space. 


About the author: Peggah Azarvash

Peggah, a sales account executive at iATS Payments, is a passionate Sales Executive with 10 years’ experience providing payment solution support and guidance to nonprofits.


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