Online Giving: Audit Your Own Website (Part 1)

Sections of this topic

    While billions of dollars are donated online annually, your nonprofit is probably not getting its fair share. And that’s probably because your own website is getting in the way.

    We have recently made online gifts “secretly” to over 80 nonprofit organizations with some surprising results, which we’ll be talking about in this and future issues.

    Reviewing your online donation process is the first step in improving your results.

    1. Can web visitors find the donation page?
    You need an obvious, easy-to-find link on every page. “Obvious” means it has to be where people look when they scan a web page: across the top navigation or down the left hand side. Anywhere else on the page is not as good.

    “Easy to find” means it stands out from all of the other navigation links. If you only have five navigation choices on your menu, then people can find it just by scanning. If you have more than five, make the “donate now” link stand out in a different color or size.

    The link should say “Donate Now,” not something vague like “ways to help” or “support us.” Having a text link in the top navigation, and a bold graphic button elsewhere on the page, is even better. Less than 25% of the websites we studied had an obvious and easy to find link to the donation form even on their home page.

    2. Once they find the link, do they go straight to the donation page?
    Far too many organizations take someone who’s ready to give on a detour, displaying page after page of opportunities to give appreciated assets, to make planned gifts, etc.

    Finding the “donate online” link on these pages often isn’t easy. The ideal “donate now” link on the home page takes a potential donor directly to the donation form. Yet less than one-third of all sites we studied brought us directly to a donation form. The rest had an intermediate page; some had two or even three intermediate pages!

    3. How complicated is your form to complete?
    Once people get to your form, it should be straightforward and easy to fill out. The best format, according to testing we’ve done, is to first invite the donor to specify a gift amount, and if you have options for different funds, determine how the gift is to be applied right away.

    Watch for Part 2: ” Hints on How to Make Giving To You A Lot Easier”
    Questions about the online giving process? Or, how to improve your results? Ask Me.

    Rick Christ has been helping nonprofit organizations use the internet for fundraising, communications and advocacy since 2009, and has been a frequent writer on the subject. He delights in your questions and arguments. Please contact him at: or at his LinkedIn Page