May 30, 2023 Amy Sewell

Amy Sewell

Existing in the online space for a nonprofit can sometimes feel like you’re attempting to walk across a river using pool floaties as steppingstones. Nothing is stable, and you’re likely to fall. The entrance of new social networks, payment platforms, privacy regulations, and browser changes can be challenging to navigate. But since online giving has increased by 42% over the last three years for most organizations, I’m sure you know this is not an area where you can afford to fall behind.

Innovation is the name of the game with the never-ending task of constantly monitoring what’s working, what isn’t, and what you could be testing to better equip yourself moving forward.

One of the best places you can invest in is your donation process: making sure your forms are easy to use—especially for mobile users—can have a direct impact on the number of donations you receive through your website.

For most nonprofits, the main donation form has a conversion rate of 17%. That means 83% of the people coming to your donation form decide to leave without making a contribution. But it is possible to improve this number! Some organizations we serve have a main donation form conversion rate as high as 41%. Let’s run the numbers on this statistic . . . if your nonprofit receives 20,000 donations per year through that donation form and has an average gift of $100, this increase in your conversion rate alone would amount to over $480,000!

So where do you start? Here are the donation form adjustments we have seen make the biggest impact on conversion rate:

    • Reduce form fields. One of our clients recently adjusted their form layout to only show billing information if someone requests it. This reduced the length of their donation form for most users by about half and resulted in a 61% increase in conversions.
    • Add modern payment processors. PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet, and Apple Pay create an easier donation process for mobile users. These users typically account for over half of web traffic and tend to be more easily distracted. Adding these quick payment methods increases donations, and some organizations we work with now see as much as 21% of their online giving on PayPal and another 12% using Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
  • Adjust your ask levels. We recently conducted a test with an organization, increasing the gift amounts on the buttons on their form. The adjustment helped increase their average gift by 103%. But, this test also reduced their overall conversion rate. We are continually testing to find a balance of these two elements.

In addition to your main donation form, there are also some critical innovations to think through related to how you drive donors to your forms. If your organization has capacity, adding in a texting strategy, a new social platform, or an advertising channel can reach new audiences and grow donations.

Right now, it is more critical than ever to avoid locking your organization into a single advertising channel. In the fast-changing digital world, being able to shift your media from one place to another when you see a decline in results is important. We saw this firsthand earlier this year when an organization’s Facebook audience targeting was affected dramatically by platform changes. We quickly pivoted and made sure they changed their media mix to incorporate more different advertising channels. Because of this adjustment, they still accomplished the goal they set for new donors.

Deciding what to try first might feel overwhelming. Start by identifying areas your organization is behind in, according to fundraising benchmarks and metrics—compare your metrics to other similar organizations through reports like the M+R Benchmarks. Then balance things your donors are asking for (like PayPal or Venmo) with the cost (both in time and money) to implement. Prioritize those that are easiest but that also have a high potential impact. Then as time and budget allow, you can expand to some of the more complicated technical innovations.

Whatever you do, keep pushing forward! The digital world around us continues to change, and your organization needs to innovate so you can stay in front of donors—engaging and inspiring them—and continue to be a critical part of what is right with the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about some recent changes in the digital space and how your organization can respond well, make sure to check out our webinar on Fundraising to Make the Greatest Impact.