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The First Step to Improving Your Donation Form (It’s Not What You Think)

Donations forms aren’t simply pages on a site: they represent the wonderful transition when an interested person becomes a donor and true supporter of your organization. And, as you know, it can take a lot of work to entice people to click on a “donate now” button and get to that form.

Fun fact: A surprisingly high percentage of people who reach donations forms don’t take the final step to actually donate. The M+R 2017 Industry Benchmark Report reveals a mere 17% completion rate—and many nonprofits have completion rates that are much lower.

While it can be tempting to try to improve your donation form performance with all kinds of design tweaks and content changes, doing this as a first step is often misguided. The real secret is that the first step to improving a donation form has nothing at all to do with the form.

Instead, you need to start with understanding more about the people who are using your form. You can’t design something and expect it to work if you don’t know who is using it and what they want (and need)! So, who are your donors and visitors? And what donations processes will serve them best?

How to Start Your Donation Form Improvement—the Right Way

Start by gathering 12-20 weeks of performance metrics. You’ll want to find the data that will answer these key questions:

  • Where your site visitors located (geographically)?
  • How are they viewing your pages and forms (what kinds of devices and operating systems are they using)?
  • What are they visiting before they get to the donation form (ads, social media posts, email messages, or web pages)?

Your potential donor’s experience and interaction with your site will help take much of the guesswork out of improving your donation forms—and increasing your conversion rate will become much easier.

Surprises Your Data Can Bring to Light

This data can reveal many things about your form (and your site’s) performance. Here are a few common scenarios:

If you see that a large percentage of visitors are getting to your site and leaving rapidly without making it to any other pages, you may have a home page content or navigation problem that’s causing frustration or confusion. It could be that your website content isn’t compelling enough to that incite people to donate, it could be that your donation button is hard to find, it could be that your visitor was expecting to land on a different page than the one they got to—or it could be something else. Usability testing can help you get to the bottom of the issue.

If you find that people are getting to your donation form (hooray!), but that your online gifts are mostly from people using a desktop computer, you may have a problem with your donation rendering properly on mobile devices. When people are inspired to make donations on the go, you need to make it easy and clear for them. If it isn’t, they’re likely to leave your site…and they may not return.

If you find that people are donating at the “wrong” giving levels, your form layout may be the culprit. For example, if you’re expecting folks to give at your $15 per month sustainer program level, and more people are making a one-time gift, the order in which you display the options may be out of alignment with your program priorities.

As you can see, there are many ways to improve your donation form conversion rate—and it’s important to start with your data to understand the right action to take. Sometimes very small changes can have large benefits, and that’s far more likely when those changes are based on solid data.

Want to see how your own donation form stacks up? We can help you evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and then optimize your form to create your own conversion rate jump! Get in touch.

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