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The Most Effective Online Donation Page Ever

Most non-profits have yet to experience the power of online fundraising. But, for those who have raised millions of dollars through web-based donation campaigns, there is nothing more critical than the solicitation page. This special page of your website is one of the most neglected pieces of a non-profit website, a casualty of the belief that the simple existence of a "donate button" will be enough. That could not be further from the truth. This is not one of those situations where "if you build it, they will come " applies.

In this special article, we will review the most important aspects of an online donation page and strategies for directing people to it.

The Solicitation

The foundation for an amazing donation page is the solicitation message. Don't let the word solicitation scare you. This is the part of the page where you accomplish several things:

Start your solicitation with a clear message. You want to be direct when talking donors about your fundraising needs. Create compelling headline that will summarize your solicitation. Use powerful verbs to activate passion within your donors. Here are a few examples of winning donation headlines:

  • You Can Feed a Family in the Tampa Bay Area for a Week with Your Extra Change
  • Send 100 Bibles to the Middle East for Just $5.00
  • 500 Children are $10 Away From One Month of Cancer Treatment

Explain what a donation to your organization will accomplish. Make your explanation direct and to the point. You want your donors to clearly envision what each dollar will go towards. Telling your donors that every $5 will send 100 Bibles to the Middle East or that every $25 will feed a family for a month helps them to see the impact that their gift will have. Substantiate your request for donation by giving them something to believe in.

Explain your long term objectives as well. If their donations will help you to accomplish short term goals, explain the long term objective that is accomplished by the short term win. This helps your donors catch the vision and prepare for ongoing contributions.

The Options

Give your prospective donors options. Don't leave it to them to do the math - do it for them by recommending donation units. For example, if $25 will buy a week of groceries, create several giving packages based on the amount of weeks a donor wants to sponsor. Create packages for 1, 5, 12, 26, and 52 weeks. Then as a last option, allow them to choose the weeks they want. This makes it easy for your donors to choose and donate.

Focus your donation options on your current or most important initiatives. If your donation page has too many options, it will not be easy for a donor to make a quick decision. They'll put the decision off and then never come back. So, fight the temptation to create a donation page that pitches general contributions and zoom your donors in on your most immediate need.

The Campaign Goals

In order to successfully raise money online, you must think of your donation page as always running a campaign. Like a mannequin in the window of a store, your donation page is what you "dress up" with your latest fundraising campaign. It is a focused "sale", emphasizing the immediate priorities of your organization.

State your goals for the campaign on the donation page. Make frequent updates to the page to let donors know how the campaign is doing. Link to a special campaign Twitter account or FaceBook page, then back link to the donation page. Give your donation page the benefit of a well-rounded marketing effort and a focused campaign goal.

The Donation Form

Finally, you need a functional donation form. You can either create a form directly on the page or you can use a third party processing service like PayPal.

To embed a form on the donation page, it will need to be a secure page using an SSL certificate. For our clients, we provide a shared SSL certificate that can be use for custom donation forms. You will need to open up a merchant account and either process donations manually as they are submitted or automatically through an AuthorizeNet payment gateway.

An easier way to get up and running fast is to use PayPal. we allow you to host PayPal buttons and forms. We can configure your donation page to process one-time and recurring payments (called PayPal Subscriptions). This form is placed directly under your page content with your donation address below for donations by mail.

Start Writing and Planning!

Let's outline some practical steps for creating a winning donation page right now.

  1. Design Your Campaign
    1. What is your specific fundraising goal?
    2. Who will you help by accomplishing your goal?
    3. Who will want to give towards your cause?
  2. Create the Options
    1. What is the least someone could give to make a measurable impact?
    2. What donation units make sense?
  3. Create Your Solicitation
    1. Create your headline.
    2. What makes accomplishing your goal important?
    3. Why should people give?
    4. What will they get out of it?
    5. What is the long term objective?
    6. How does the campaign fit into your organization's overall strategy?
  4. Create Your Donation Page
    1. Compose your donation page content in one document.
    2. Create the donation page yourself.
    3. Call NetMinistry to order a donation page for $75 and send the document to us.
  5. Market Your Donation Page
    1. Place a button to your campaign on your homepage.
    2. E-mail your constituents and members.
    3. Post a link on FaceBook and create a FaceBook page for your campaign.
    4. Open up a Twitter account for campaign updates
    5. Link your Twitter account to your FaceBook page using the notes feature.
    6. Call donors and encourage them to visit the donation page for information about the new campaign.
    7. Set a timeframe for your campaign and communicate regularly with your constituents about the campaign and its progress.
    8. Celebrate at the end of your campaign no matter what the results were. People will remember that for the next campaign.
    9. Plan your next campaign.

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