Six tips for increasing your online donations

With its Spring 2018 website development grant up for grabs, the Transform Foundation shares its top lessons from the programme on how to create a charity website that maximises donations.

Chloe Green | 15th May 18
Image is graphic from Transform Foundation showing metrics on a computer screen, representing how their website grant helps charities increase online donations. Image: Transform Foundatiom

The Transform Foundation believes that a strategically designed website is one of the most powerful ways of helping a charity generate the sustainable income they need to fund their charitable activities and go further in their mission.

That is why they provide the funding to give charities a helping hand on the upfront investment for a website equipped with the right features.

To give you an idea of some of the benefits you can expect from a fully optimised website funded through the programme, here are six top tips for creating a website that maximises your online donations.

To find out how you can apply for funding to redevelop your charity’s website, visit the Website Grant section of the Transform Foundation website here for full details on what it offers and how you can apply.


  1. Create a fully integrated donations form on your website

According to the Network For Good Online Giving Index, non-profits achieve on average six timeshigher conversion rates on their donations if they take them via a fully integrated journey that maintains their branding, is fully hosted and does not redirect to a third party payment processing site that is disconnected from their main website.

Having a fully integrated donations journey is therefore one of the simplest ways for charities to dramatically increase their income.


  1. Minimise the number of clicks on your online donations journey

The Transform Foundation’s studies have shown that having more than one click on your donations form reduces conversion rates by an average of 35%. After a second click, every extra click a supporter has to make on average reduces conversion rates by an additional 20%.

To maximise the amount of potential supporters you convert, it is therefore vital to aim for a one-click donation journey, or at least reduce clicks to the minimum number possible.


  1. Don’t settle for mobile-optimised: ensure your site is mobile-first

Whilst most charities now understand the importance of having a mobile-responsive site, many still do not have truly mobile-first websites. In many cases, the “mobile responsiveness” of their website essentially boils down to just a “squashed down” version of their desktop website. The reality is that a truly mobile first website is one where the entire design process in terms of the structure of the site, the journeys and the designs have all been created from the beginning with mobile users in mind.

More than 60% of online traffic now comes via mobile or tablet and more importantly, studies have shown that donors are 34% less likely to make a donation to a site that is not easy to navigate on a mobile device if it is  accessed via a mobile or tablet.

This means that charities who do not have mobile-first websites are likely to be getting around 20.5% less donations online than they would be if it were responsive.

Make sure when you redesign your site that the entire look, feel and journeys are built around what works for mobile, rather than having a crowded desktop-first site that simply renders to mobile.


  1. Create numerous specific online appeals rather than just one “donate now” button

On many charity websites the only call to action and supporter journey available to supporters is their “Donate Now” button and they cannot construct appeals pages that link donations to different specific projects.

This misses a major opportunity to engage different types of supporters in different ways and to link their donation to a compelling impact right from the beginning of the journey.

One of the most effective ways of increasing donations is to have multiple online appeals or fundraising campaigns live on your website at the same time, each linked to specific impacts that the donations will make. Each appeal should have its own distinct donations journey from beginning to end.

A further advantage of regularly launching online appeals with their own distinct journeys on your website is that they provide constant new rationales for supporters to give, with the possibility of linking each new appeal journey you create to a fresh email marketing campaign.


  1. Consider allowing supporters to set up their own individual fundraisingpages on your website as well as on third parties

As most charities know, fundraising pages generated by supporters to receive donations from their friends, family and network to support your charity are one of the most important sources of online income.

Supporters will typically create these pages on third-party sites like JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving etc. and these options should always remain available for those supporters who trust those brands.

However, charities can gain a big advantage by also having the facility on their own website for supporters to generate their own fundraising pages. Not only can this reduce fees paid in commissions, but also it drives fundraisers and their supporters directly to your site, rather than to third parties.  This creates a deeper connection between the supporter and  your charity and may also engage them in other activities you are promoting on your site.

Fundraisers themselves are also likely to be your biggest advocates and by allowing them to have a home on your site, you encourage them to take feel more closely part of your community.


  1. Optimise traffic to your site by maximising your Google grant & using social media tools

Once you have your site well set up for conversions, you should also look to take maximum advantage of the tools available for attracting more potential supporters to your website.  A good starting point is applying for a Google Grant, which can provide thousands of pounds of free Google AdWords each month and then continue to optimise your usage of the grant on an ongoing basis.

There are also several tools emerging for finding, engaging and communicating with supporters via social media in a scalable way that requires minimal time investment.


To find out more about opportunities to get your website redevelopment funded, visitthe Website Grant section of the Transform Foundation website.