3 Principles of Conversion and 29 Tips For A Conversion Focused Donation Page

3 principles of conversion and 29 tips for a conversion focused donation page

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Traffic. Average Gift. Conversion. These are the 3 essential ingredients to fundraising and online fundraising. I discussed the role of traffic here (and how a Google Ad Grant can help) and today we’re going to look at conversion. Quite relevant as I’m currently at Unbounce‘s Call to Action Conference which is essentially a two-day conference focused on conversion.

This post originally appeared on re:charity.

I’ve sourced 29 tips for a conversion focused donation page from some very smart people and groups – 32 more tips here – based on their experiences, research, and work. And here’s the thing: they all have different tips. But there are some general crossover areas, so before we dive into the tips, let’s first discuss…

3 Principles of Conversion

1. You have to test

You’ll see that the 29 tips below aren’t all the same and I don’t personally agree with all of them either. For example, I don’t think you should ask for communication preference in your donation flow and I wouldn’t put social icons in the footer of your donate page either. Your donors will rarely choose print communications even though by getting mail and email the chances of them giving goes up. And the social icons only add more links and possible distractions taking them away from your donate page – not good. So while I have my rationale there are few hard and fast rules when it comes to conversion.

Which is why these are tips. And why you need to try to test things for yourself.

Testing is one of the reason’s I love Unbounce – and similar tools – as you can create a page in minutes and set it up to A/B test for you to see what leads to more clicks and donations. So by all means, start with an opinion or guess but go out and prove it to yourself and, more than likely, your boss.

And a less scientific way of testing, and less reliable, is to get a couple of friends or colleagues who don’t support your organization to make a donation. Give them a few bucks or buy them a coffee in exchange and get them to just make note of their experience.

You and your organization should be doing this at least twice a year (signing up for emails too) and probably best if it’s every quarter. Go through the experience and think about what would get your attention to that page, what would motivate you to complete a donation, and the friction you have to overcome to complete it.

It’s hard to know exactly what works and why but if you don’t test you’ll never know. 

2. You have to keep it simple

Of the 29 tips below (and 32 more here) roughly half of them are centered around the idea of simplicity. Bullet points. Suggested donations. Clear copy. Fewer links away from the page. Collect less information. By the time someone has reached your donation page, they have expressed at least some interest in making a donation to your organization so make it easy for them to do so!

This is why checkout donation systems – the ones where you can ‘add to cart’ are terrible for online donations. There are too many choices to make – what do you want to ‘purchase’, how many of them do you want – and too many steps to complete the purchase – browse, select, confirm, complete. People aren’t buying products from you – they are giving – and it’s not the early 2000’s and the early days of eCommerce. So don’t use them.

There can be temptations to build donation systems and flows that can meet ALL needs of all possible donors. You may get asked questions like, “What about someone who wants to make a monthly donation AND tribute gift in someone’s honour at the same time?” That’s about 1 out of every… oh… 1,000 people… so why would you build a flow or process that caters to them at the risk of the other 999? The answer is you don’t. That person or ‘edge case’ can make their monthly donation and do a one-time donation in someone’s honour afterward. That’s not poor user experience or bad customer service. Making everyone else answer that question or have that option before they donate is.

Make your donation page as simple as possible for the most people to complete.

3. It’s about trust and this is just the beginning

If roughly half of the tips are about keeping things simple, then the other half are roughly about trust. Having a secure page and URL. Donor testimonials. Trust seals, banners, and badges. When people reach your donation page, they’ve made a decision to donate or been inspired to donate and just need the last little bit of help to convince themselves this is a good decision. So give it to them.

Hopefully, the majority of trust has been built up leading up to this donation act so you don’t need to restate your entire case for support or all your stats but a few quick bullets and some trust marks from peers and credible sources is all you need in case they are looking for them.

And the donation is just the start of earning the donors trust.

The thank you page they get directed to is key. Not only is it needed – often – to help you track conversion properly but it’s the first experience they have after making a donation to you. Be thankful. Have some useful content. And give them ways to continue to take actions that benefit you and make them feel good. The automated email that goes out after their donation. The tax receipt (if you send it out automatically). The first email blast they receive. These are all crucial to keeping the trust they gave you with their donation and trying to earn more of it.

One of the best emails I ever received came about 9 months after my donation. They were giving me a specific update on the project I had given to with some info, photos, and even a video. That’s how trust is earned.

Donors want you to be trustworthy before they make a donation and you have to prove it afterward.


If you are looking to test, keep things simple, and earn trust – during the donation and afterward – then you’ll do fine at creating a conversion focused donation page and increasing your online revenue. Good luck!

29 Tips for A Conversion Focused Donation Page

From Bloomerang

  1. Begin with retention in mind.
  2. Remove all distractions.
  3. Have a branded giving page.
  4. Optimize for mobile.
  5. Collect minimal information, only what you will use immediately.
  6. Include suggested gift amounts, with justification.
  7. Have a recurring donation option.
  8. Ask for a communication channel preference.
  9. Include social proof.
  10. Measure and adjust.

From NextAfter

  1. Have a secure URL
  2. Use a great headline
  3. Use the first two inches to establish the value proposition
  4. Have bullets to quickly communicate clear and key value
  5. Incorporate quotes to get at trust from peers
  6. Embed your donation form on your website
  7. Use seals, banners, and badges to get at trust from credible sources

From Frontier

  1. Mobile should be a top priority of 2015 for any website
  2. Giving online is an emotional experience that anyone can cultivate
  3. Ask specific amounts to get greater results
  4. Provide as much documentation as you can for the most particular donors
  5. Lead users on your website through colour, simplicity, and good design

From Elevation (infographic below)

  1. Have a short and simple URL
  2. Ensure your banner is easily recognizable and communicates clearly
  3. Keep the text in your body clear and simple
  4. Build trust in the footer
  5. Be mobile friendly and/or responsive
  6. Have all key information and actions above the fold
  7. Think about your thank you page that is shown after the donation




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