Get More Online Donations through Your Website

Raising money can be a tough job for nonprofits, community groups, and individual creators and content producers. Your website can make fundraising easier, if you present your mission and your request clearly and share content that gets donors enthusiastic about your cause.

Here are nine best practices to follow year-round (for tips boosting your holiday donations, read this!).

drag and drop website builder

1. Explain What You Do and Why Donors Should Care

Create a short statement for your site that explains what you do and why you’re raising money. Consider this example from one of the top-rated animal shelters on Charity Navigator: 

“As the area’s premier no-kill shelter, the Humane Society of Sarasota County engages the hearts, hands, and minds of the community to help animals. We rely solely on contributions from individuals, organizations, and corporations. HSSC receives no federal funding, nor are we funded by any national humane organization.” 

In three sentences, they describe a goal that animal lovers can get on board with, and they explain that to keep meeting that goal they need help from animal lovers in the community.  

This approach works for creatives who depend on fan donations, too. Illustrator Fran Meneses, a.k.a. Frannerd, has a Patreon page where she makes a case for joining her community: “I love uploading illustrations and videos to make you feel happy, inspired and motivated so you can keep drawing and pursuing your dreams and goals.”

Donors know that not only will they get to see her work, they’ll also enjoy her support of their goals, too. 

2. Show Site Visitors What You Do 

People want to know how their donations make a difference, so show them on your site. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation website includes information and updates for state park programs it supports. Potential donors can see at a glance what the foundation does and delve into the latest news on the site’s blog:

example of nonprofit blog website

3. Make Your Donate Button Easy to See

Humor site McSweeney’s Internet Tendency isn’t shy about asking for donations. Their call for donations is above the fold on the homepage. And at the end of each article on the site, it’s hard to miss that big red button.

A close up of a CTA button

4. Go Social with Your Stories and Donation Requests

You can use social media to build awareness of your donation program, like Women for Women International does on Instagram. The nonprofit helps women and their families recover from war, and its IG feed is filled with portraits, videos, and inspirational messages.

use instagram to get more nonprofit donations

You can also use social media for direct fundraising, like Austin Pets Alive does on Facebook. The animal shelter supports user-created fundraisers for birthdays and special events. Then APA promotes those fundraisers on their own Facebook page, so anyone can click and donate.  

5. Make Monthly Donation an Option 

More and more donors want to set up recurring donations, so make it easy. Charity Navigator reports that monthly online donations increased by 40% from 2017 to 2018.

Most payment services let you offer a recurring donation option for your contributors, like the check box on the donation page for Big Cat Rescue. Use it!

example of recurring donation box on nonprofit website

6. Offer Incentives to Your Donors

Reciprocity helps to build stronger relationships with your donors, so think about offering incentives on your website. Maybe all donors to your kids’ charity will get a tote bag or special recognition on your site. If your donors are local, you might consider hosting a yearly event just for them.

You can also use a nonprofit plugin for WordPress like Simple Membership or MemberPress to  provide exclusive content for your contributors. 

7. Create a Sense of Urgency

Most of us are more likely to act when there’s a clear deadline or goal on the horizon. You can create this sense of urgency in a couple of ways. One is to set a fundraising deadline. Maybe you’re trying to raise $500 by the end of the week for a new air conditioner for your community childcare center. Or maybe a donor has offered to match all donations that come in during the next three days. 

Another way to create a sense of urgency is to explain what it costs to accomplish your goals. On Big Cat Rescue’s donation page snippet above, you can see some odd donation amounts–$33, $66, $231. Why? Because those numbers represent the cost of keeping rescue cats fed.

how to create urgency and boost donations for nonprofit website

Now instead of random numbers, donors are thinking about the cats’ daily food requirements, which feels urgent. 

8. Use Email Marketing

Some donors won’t choose to make monthly donations, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. You can use email campaigns to send them your latest updates, event photos and inspirational videos to encourage them to click through to your site and donate again. And when the holidays are approaching, it’s time to remind those one-time donors of what you offer for your community and for people on their gift lists. 

9. Make your Website Mobile-Friendly

If you want more donations through your website, make sure it’s mobile friendly. In 2018, 40% of traffic to nonprofit sites in came from mobile devices, according to the M+R Benchmark Study. Your statement of purpose, your content, and your donate buttons should be super easy to find on your mobile site. Your site should load fast, too, so you don’t lose your visitors’ attention and donations.

Ready to Set Up Your Donation Site?

You can start today with a secure, cost-effective shared web hosting plan.

Each plan includes a free SSL certificate so your donors can enter their information safely on your site. And your plan comes with access to more than 100 free mobile-friendly site templates, so you don’t miss out on mobile donors.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance B2B content marketing writer. Her specialty areas include SMB marketing and growth, data security, IoT, and fraud prevention