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5 Donation Platform Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Tool

Published by Nathan Hill

The solution to your online fundraising growth is never going to be a new tool – like a donation platform.

You have to have the right strategy – and sometimes the right strategy requires a new donation platform.

While we often say we’re “donation platform agnostic”, we’re certainly “donation platform opinionated” based on what we’ve tested and proven to be essential strategies to improve revenue on your donation pages.

As you consider and evaluate what the right donation platform is for your fundraising efforts, there are 5 questions you need to ask about the platform that are deal-breakers for online fundraising growth.

Here are the 5 questions you should be asking.

Click on each one to dive into the details and why it’s important for your online fundraising.

1. Can I easily edit all of the copy on my donation page?

  • Headlines
  • Body Copy
  • Form headers

2. Is the design and layout flexible?

  • Remove all links in the navigation
  • Grouping related form fields
  • Trust marks (Charity Navigator, GuideStar, etc.) must go near the donate button

3. Can I create as many donation pages as I need?

  • Unique pages for every campaign
  • Unique pages Instant Donation Pages for donor acquisition

4. Is it a one-step or multi-step process?

  • No shopping cart process
  • No gift verification screens

5. Can I test new ideas?

  • Easy to set up goal tracking in Google Analytics
  • Easy to set up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics
  • Easy to install Google Optimize to test new growth ideas

1. Can I easily edit all of the copy on my donation page?

There’s no doubt about it – the words on your donation page are the most powerful tool at your disposal to convince someone to donate to you.

And if you can’t edit the copy – and I mean all of the copy – you’re already starting from a disadvantage.

Here are a few key areas you’ll need to be able to edit…

Headlines

In experiment #4164, we saw that clearly spelling out the specific effect of someone’s donation in the headline led to a 21.2% increase in donations.

Make sure you can edit the headlines on your donation pages to communicate value and align with the motivation of your donation page visitors.

Body Copy

In experiment #4467, we saw a that tweaking the main donation page copy to focus on the general mission of the organization led to a 43.8% increase in donations.

Make sure you can edit your body copy to test your value proposition and see what inspires more donors to generously give to you.

Form Headers

In experiment #4638, we saw that using headers throughout your donation form to group common fields led to a 12.5% increase in donations.

Make sure you can edit the copy within your donation form to add headers like “1. Enter Your Donation Amount” and “2. Enter Your Information.”


2. Is the design and layout flexible?

The design of your page is critical to helping your donor do two things:

  1. Good design helps donors read your copy in the right sequence
  2. Good design helps donors stay focused on the task at hand

On the contrary, poor design creates distractions and keeps donors from fully understanding why they should give to your organization.

Here are a few key areas where you’ll need design flexibility…

Removing all the links in your navigation

In experiment #4903, we saw that removing all the distracting links in the navigation led to a 195% increase in donations.

Make sure you can control what goes in your page navigation – showing links to other pages creates both distractions and confusion for your donor.

Grouping related form fields

In experiment #1007, we saw that grouping similar form fields to reduce the page length led to a 39.4% increase in donations.

Make sure you can put similar fields side-by-side like First Name & Last Name or City & State & Zip. This will help your donor perceive that it takes less work to complete a donation.

Adding trust marks near the donate button

In experiment #4990, we saw that adding trust marks near the donate button led to a 22% increase in donations.

Make sure you can place trust marks (like Charity Navigator and/or GuideStar seals) near the donate button. Trust marks add credibility right when your donor starts to ask, “Can I trust this organization?”


3. Can I create as many donation pages as I need?

If you’re looking for a donation page tool and only thinking about your main donation page, you’re already a step behind.

Fundraisers that are seeing lots of online success are not just creating a high-performing main donation page, they’re also creating unique pages for every campaign.

And most fundraisers that are having major success acquiring new donors online in mass are utilizing instant donation pages.

Here’s what you should know about the 3 main types of donation pages

Main Donation Pages

The main donation page is the most common type of donation page. It’s the one you land on when you click “Donate” from your homepage.

With so many donors coming to this page with varying motivations, it’s best to keep your copy focused on the impact of your organization as a whole – not specific funds or programs.

Campaign Donation Pages

Every email appeal you send should land on a unique campaign donation page. In this case, you know what kind of messaging your donors just clicked through from, so you can tweak your page accordingly.

Make sure your copy is focused on supporting the specific issue, cause, or program that your page visitor has just clicked through from.

Instant Donation Pages

Instant donation pages are the least common type of donation page – but are critical for new donor acquisition.

When someone signs a petition, downloads an eBook, or exchanges their email for any type of free offer, you can replace your normal confirmation page with an Instant Donation Page to start converting new subscribers into new donors right away.


4. Is it a one-step or multi-step process?

One of the most common and detrimental types of donation page friction is something we call “steps friction.” When you have multiple pages in your donation process, it can slow down your donor, make donating feel like a lot more work, and hinder your donation page performance.

While some tools have a simplified multi-step widget, that safest route to go is having your donation form all on one page.

Here are two key reasons why you should reduce the steps in your donation process…

Verification Pages

Gift verification pages are very common, and for good reason. In theory, they help a donor make sure all their information looks correct before completing their donation.

But they can often be misleading and cause someone to think their donation is already complete.

In experiment #3712, we saw that eliminating these types of verification pages increased donations by 130.6%.

Shopping Cart Process

In experiment #2171, we saw that converting the donation process from a multi-step shopping cart to a single page donation form contributed to a 146.5% increase in donations.

Make sure your donation process doesn’t introduce unnecessary steps or feel overly transactional like you’re making a purchase on an eCommerce site.


5. Can I test new ideas?

It’s impossible to say this too many times…

The only way to know exactly what works to acquire more donors and increase revenue is to test.

What is a test?

It’s not simply implementing a new strategy and watching to see if your key metrics increase over time. There can be 100 other variables that are impacting your performance that are impossible to account for – unless you run an A/B test.

Get a quick guide to running a nonprofit A/B test here »

Here are few key things you’ll need from your donation page in order to test new ideas…

Easily set up Goal Tracking in Google Analytics

You’ll need to set up goals in Google Analytics to know exactly how many people visiting your donation page actually complete a donation.

Your donation page tool should either have an easy way to create an “event” in Google Analytics, or send donors to a dedicated conformation page that you can use to create a goal.

Easily set up eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics

Having a goal set up is not enough – you’ll want to know how much donors are giving as well.

To do so, you will want your donation page tool to make it easy to enable eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics. This will let you see how much your website and page visitors are donating.

Easily install Google Optimize to test new growth ideas

Once you have the tracking set up, you’ll need your donation page tool to make it easy to run an A/B test.

Google Optimize is a free tool you can use to test nearly any element on your donation page – including design, copy, form fields, layout, and more. Make sure your donation page tool makes it easy to install Google Optimize and other a/b testing tools.

Looking for an in-depth guide to Google Analytics? Check out the Google Analytics for Nonprofits certification course »


General Donation Page Template - iPad Image

Want to see everything we’ve learned about donation pages?

You can see all 19 proven elements of an effective main donation page in this free template – all based on real-world testing and experimentation with nonprofit organizations.

Get the free donation page template here »

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.