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How to Get the Most Out of Donation & Landing Page Optimization

Published by Nathan Hill

Donation & Landing Page OptimizationThis 8 session course on donation & landing page optimization is all about discovering why our donors and potential donors say “Yes.” To find the answers, we’ve analyzed our entire library of online fundraising experiments – focusing on 300+ experiments directly related to donation pages and email acquisition pages.

If you’re not already enrolled in the course, you can sign up at

What You’ll Learn in the Course

Over the course of these 8 sessions, you’ll learn the underlying principles behind both landing pages and donation pages – understanding the common factors that keep people engaged, as well as what can slow a potential donor down.

Then, you’ll get an in-depth look at what makes for an effective email acquisition page, general donation page, campaign donation page, and instant donation page. Along the way, you’ll see how to implement each one of these unique types of landing pages into your online fundraising program.

And to round things off, we’ll take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood elements of a donation page: the gift array.

The Optimal Course Schedule

8 sessions is a lot to get through – especially when you have other full-time responsibilities. And I know first-hand how easy it is to push of training and professional development when other responsibilities are weighing down on you.

One of the only ways to make sure you get through this essential training is to put it on your calendar. To help, I’ve outlined an optimal schedule that you can overlay onto your calendar to make sure you set aside the time to complete the course.

If you follow this schedule, you’ll be finished with the course within 6 weeks, and you’ll have hands-on experience applying what you’ve learned.

Are you ready? Here’s the schedule:

  • Week 1 – Session 1, Session 2, and Session 3
  • Week 2 – Session 4, Email Acquisition Page activity
  • Week 3 – Session 5, General Donation Page Activity
  • Week 4 – Session 6, Campaign Donation Page Activity
  • Week 5 – Session 7, Instant Donation Page Activity
  • Week 6 – Session 8

Optimal Course Schedule

Week 1

This week is pretty easy. You just need to watch 3 videos that will lay out all the ground work for the 4 specific types of donation & landing pages we’ll cover during the rest of the course. Session 1 will give you an intro to the course. Session 2 will explore landing page value proposition. And Session 3 will discuss how to keep your donors interest.

Week 2

During week 2, you’ll watch Session 4 on email acquisition. Then, later in the week, you can start putting some of your learnings into practice with a little application activity…

If you don’t have an email acquisition page, start here.

Before you create an acquisition page, you need a reason for someone to give you their email address. This could be a weekly or monthly newsletter, subscription to your blog, a free eBook download, a petition or pledge to sign, etc.

Once you’ve identified your content offer, go ahead and print out the Email Acquisition Page template. Use this as a guide to sketch out what your landing page will look like. And when I say sketch, I actually mean grabbing a pen and sketching it out on paper (this helps me at least).

Then, take some time to write the copy for your page, taking into account everything you’ve learned so far about value proposition, and communicating with clarity, appeal, credibility, and exclusivity.

Finally, you’ll need to get the page created. This could go a number of different ways depending on your organization. You can do to your web developer and ask them to create your page, or you can use a tool like Unbounce to create it yourself.

If you have an email acquisition page, start here.

Since you’re a hot shot fundraiser that’s got email acquisition down, let’s put your marketing and fundraising intuition to the test.

First, print out the email acquisition page template. Then pull up one of your email acquisition pages on your computer, noting the differences between the template and your own page. Grab a notebook and pen and jot down all the ideas that come to your mind that you could test.

Then, pick one test idea that you think will make the biggest impact on conversion. Spend some time either writing new copy, creating a new image, or outlining changes you might need a developer to make.

Once you’ve outlined you test idea, set it up for free using Google Optimize.

Week 3

This week, we’re going to dive into the most essential donation page of them all: your general donation page. If you accept online donation pages at all, you have one of these (even if it doesn’t look like the template). Watch Session 5 on general donation page early this week.

Depending on where you and your organization are at, you need to start from square one and simply find a tool that will let you embed a donation form on your website. If that’s where you’re at, spend your application time this week researching a donation page tool for your organization.

If you already have a pretty solid main donation page, print out the template and come up with an idea you can test. Experiments related to increasing value proposition or reducing friction often have the greatest initial impact if you haven’t done much testing in the past.

Week 4

You’re over half way there. Keep going!

Watch Session 6 early on this week. Then later, take a look at your marketing/fundraising calendar and see when your next donation appeal email is going out.

For your application this week, create a standalone donation page for your next email appeal. If you don’t have the ability at the moment to make lots of changes, focus on writing new copy for your campaign donation page based on what you learned during session 6.

If you already have a standalone campaign donation page ready to go, outline an idea that you can test to try to increase conversions. Then use Google Optimize to set up and launch your experiment.

Week 5

This week is the last one where we’ll focus on a specific type of page. But it’s also the most important type of page when it comes to acquiring brand new donors. At the start of this week, watch Session 7 on the Instant Donation Page.

For your application this week, identify one area on your website where you can implement an instant donation page. Look for an email sign up or a free offer page that gets a lot of traffic. Then, instead of using a standard confirmation page, create an instant donation ask to start converting your new subscribers into donors.

Week 6

This is the last week! And good news…we’re winding down. Sometime this week, spend some time watching Session 8 on Gift Arrays. I think the research Jon presents will give you a brand-new perspective on how to leverage recommended gift amounts and empower your donors to be as generous as possible.

Published by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill is Vice President, NextAfter Institute.