Streamline your Online Donation Process with These Steps

Fundraising for your nonprofit group, school, or personal cause is usually more productive when it’s super-easy for people to donate. But online fundraising faces some of the same challenges as online retail.

People often start a transaction, then quit because they get frustrated or distracted. As many as 60% of the people who go to a donation page abandon the process before they complete their online donation.

That’s not great, but the best practices that reduce retail cart abandonment can cut donor abandonment, too. Here’s how to make your online donation process easier to complete.

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9 Steps to Hassle-Free Online Donations

Google’s Retail UX Playbook makes recommendations for eCommerce checkout that you can adapt to streamline your online donation process, too.

1. Make it easy for visitors to stay on the donation page.

“Limit exit points” in the payment process, like links to social media accounts and related content, so you don’t lose potential donors to distractions.

2. Show donors how far along they are in the donation process.

Have you ever started an online donation, then immediately wondered how long it’s going to take you to get it done, and maybe bailed out because you’re not sure you have time to complete it before your Uber arrives/baby wakes up/boss starts the meeting?

It’s not just you (or me). People like to know what they’re getting into, even when what they’re getting into is a relatively short online payment process. Google recommends using a progress bar on the page if the conversion flow has more than 2 steps.

example of progress bar on donation form for nonprofit website

3. Remind your potential donors of why they’re entering their data.

Your donation checkout pages should include your fundraising goal, so people are more likely to see the process through to the end.

The example above, from the ASPCA, includes three clear reminders of why this person is donating: in the header, in the touching puppy photo, and in the paragraph on the side. By donating, they can be a lifesaver to animals.

4. Interruptions happen, but you can make it easy for donors to finish later.

Your checkout page should let people complete their donation on another device, either by emailing themselves a link or saving their data for to come back to on your site.

These first four steps focus on what should and should not be part of your online donation process. The next four steps focus on how your online donation form can move  people through the process to complete their donation.

5. Make sure that your online donation form only includes required fields.

We’re talking about the fields that are required to verify donors’ identity and payment information. The longer your form is, and the more information prospective donors must enter, the more likely they are to abandon it.

6. Give users instant feedback as they fill out the donation form.

Inline validation prevents the frustrating experience of filling out a form completely and then seeing it rejected because of a data entry error.  Set up your form to show a check mark when fields like email addresses, credit card numbers, billing zip codes are entered properly, and your visitors won’t have to scroll back up the page to fix errors.

In the example below, from the Red Cross, correctly completed fields receive a green checkmark, while incomplete fields get highlighted in red with a X.

red cross donation form with field validation

7. Enable autofill for your form fields.

The less information people must enter by hand, the more likely they are to complete your donation form. That’s especially true if they’re visiting your site on a mobile phone.

8. Make your donation form mobile-friendly.

Your donation form’s fields for card numbers, phone numbers, CVVs, and zip codes should use a numeric keypad. Is there anything more frustrating than trying to enter a credit card number on a typewriter-style keyboard? Especially on your phone?

After you set up your form, preview it on several different browsers and devices—especially mobile browsers. When your form is live, it’s a good idea to run A/B tests to see which format delivers the highest conversion rate.

9. Say thank you!

Finally, there’s one more thing your donation process should do.

Always thank your donors immediately after they contribute. It’s a good idea to follow up again later via email with a progress report or results on your fundraiser.

Hold On to Your Donor Data

Even if you’re only fundraising for one project right now, hold on to your list of donors (and keep that data secure). Besides sending thank-you notes and project updates, you may want to reach out to those contributors if you have other fundraising projects in the future.

And if you’re raising money for a nonprofit organization or political campaign, you’ll need good donor records to comply with reporting rules.

Just make sure you abide by GDPR and request their permission to be contacted in the future.

A donation plugin like the ones we’ll look at next can help you store and manage your donor information.

Donation Plugins for Your WordPress Website

The fastest and easiest way to start taking donations is to install a donation plugin on your WordPress site. Here are a few of the most popular WordPress plugins for nonprofits.

1. Give

Give lets you customize your donation forms, accept one-time and recurring donations, and accept donations in honor of or in memory of someone. Give’s dashboard helps manage your donor information for receipts, tax reporting, and more.

give wordpress plugin for donations lets you manage donor information

The basic plugin is free. Add-ons for upgraded features, credit-card processing, and branded payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal are available as monthly bundle subscriptions or individually.

2. Seamless Donations

Seamless Donations offers a quick setup to link donations to your PayPal account. Seamless also lets donors choose between one-time and recurring contributions.

You can buy premium extensions to add functions like custom donation levels, enhanced thank-you notices for donors, and a widget pack that lets you display recent donations, total donations, and other data on your site.

3. Charitable

Charitable integrates with WordPress and has a free theme of its own that you can apply to your site. The free basic plugin lets you direct contributions to your PayPal account, and it allows you to set up multiple fundraising campaigns.

Premium packages add more payment gateways, email marketing integrations, and more.

Ready to Set Up Your Fundraising Website?

Get started today with HostGator’s shared hosting plan that keeps your costs low and includes a free SSL certificate to protect your donors’ personal information.

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