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4 Essential Lessons in Donation Page Optimization

Nathan Hill

We just wrapped up a certification workshop on donation & landing page optimization at the Dovetail Brewery in Chicago. And while we have so many learnings to unpack, there are 4 essential lessons that every fundraiser needs to understand about donation.

Just know these won’t make you a certified donation page optimizer, but they could certainly lead to a big boost in your next campaign.

We’re gonna go through these 4 essential lessons in donation page optimization quickly, so hang on…

1. Your donation page is not fully optimized. No one’s is.

According to the latest M&R Benchmarks, the average nonprofit’s main donation page gets a 17% conversion rate. That means 17% of people coming to the donation page actually complete a donation.

Flip that number on its head and the significance is a little more impactful.

83% of people that come to a nonprofit’s main donation page leave without donating.

While there are tons of reasons as to why this happens, the essential lesson here is this:

You can never assume the people coming to your donation page are already fully motivated to give. Your donation page must continue to provide value and reasons why someone should give to your organization rather than some other organization, or not at all.

2. The words on your donation page are way more important than you might think.

Words are the most powerful tool you have to influence someone to donate. If your donation page doesn’t have written copy that conveys a strong value proposition, you’re doing your potential donors a dis-service.

Here’s a quick experiment showing the true impact of using copy to communicate why someone should give:

In experiment #6623, this organization simply added value proposition copy to their page and saw a 150% increase in donations.

Keep in mind, there are 4 key elements of a strong value proposition. You want to communicate why someone should give with:

  • Appeal – Do I care about your cause?
  • Clarity – Can I quickly and easily understand what you’re saying?
  • Credibility – Is what you’re saying believable?
  • Exclusivity – Is what you’re claiming unique to your organization?

3. Every campaign needs its own unique donation page.

It’s not enough to send all your traffic to your “fully optimized” main donation page. Your main donation page is primarily for people who are self-motivated to give and come to your site with that intention in mind.

But if you’re making a specific donation appeal – through email, an advertisement, a web banner, etc – you have to have a dedicated campaign donation page that makes your ask in context.

In fact, in experiment #7176, one organization saw that using specific campaign messaging on their donation page increased revenue by 420%, rather than just sending someone to their main donation page.

4. It’s never too early to ask for a donation.

Many “experts” will tell you it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months to convert a new email subscriber into a donor. But many new subscribers are ready to give to you right away.

That’s where the “instant donation page” comes in.

When someone signs up for your email list, downloads a free ebook, enrolls in an online course, fills out a survey, or takes a quiz – you normally show them some sort of thank you page.

Instead of a traditional ‘thank you’ or confirmation page, you can use an instant donation page to ask them to give right away.

Why would someone donate when they’ve only just signed up?

When someone has received something of value from you (i.e. an eBook or another free resource), they experience gratitude. And an instant donation page guides that gratitude into action.

Here are the basics of how it works:

  1. Replace your confirmation page with an instant donation page.
  2. Thank them in your headline and the first 1 or 2 sentences.
  3. Transition to your appeal right away.
  4. Make your appeal related to the offer they’ve just received. (i.e. “Your donation will help us share this with more people.”)
  5. Put your optimized donation form below your copy all on the same page.

You can learn exactly how to craft an instant donation page using this free template »

These 4 donation page lessons are only scratching the surface

If you want to dig deeper and see how you can optimize your donation pages, landing pages, email fundraising, donor acquisition, and more – consider joining a future online fundraising certification workshop.
You can check out the full schedule of upcoming workshops and find more opportunities to data-driven and proven online fundraising training at nextafter.com/institute.

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