Improving Online Giving Forms

Posted on 01/01/2022

When prospective donors finally land on your institution’s website, there’s no guarantee they will go through the steps necessary to make a gift. And even if they do make a gift, questions remain: Will it have been a positive experience? Will you have collected all the information needed to steward them appropriately? Will they want to come back and give again?

The answers will depend on how your website—more specifically, your giving form—is designed. Making an online gift today needs to be as easy as purchasing something from your favorite retailer. The form itself should be straightforward, secure, and fit with the overall design of your website. Above all, the experience should be simple so that it doesn’t require too much of the donor’s time or thought.

If you think that your current giving form might not be providing your donors with the experience they want—or generating the gift outcomes you need—it might be time to review it. With that in mind, here are eight ways to improve your online giving form and ensure that it’s helping to achieve your goals:

  1. Make it easy to find. An easy-to-find link on your institution’s homepage that leads directly (or at least with no more than two clicks) to the giving form is key.
  2. Keep it simple. Strive for content that is visually appealing and aligned with your institution’s overall website design. Use fonts that are easy to read, and avoid unnecessary images, videos, or links that might distract attention.
  3. Optimize it for mobile. Donors are interacting with more of your content on their phones and tablets these days, so designing a form that can be used with both a computer and a mobile device will ensure a higher completion rate.
  4. Minimize transaction time. Reduce the number of fields and required data entry. Consider offering alumni the option of making their gift after logging into their user portal so that contact information fields can auto-populate.
  5. Put first things first. Start the form with gift amount and designation fields. Offering these options early in the process—when donors are more engaged—can help to ensure that donors don’t get bogged down in the more tedious tasks of providing contact details and credit card information.
  6. Ask for details. Provide space for donors to offer more information or instructions for their gift. Add a field to the form where they can write in a designation that isn’t otherwise listed or share other facts that can assist in gift processing.
  7. Encourage desired outcomes. Preselecting leadership level amounts can help drive increased gift amounts, and highlighting recurring gifts can entice donors to take advantage of this option.
  8. Cultivate relationships. Offer donors the chance to share interests that can advance their connections with the institution. Ask questions like what inspired their gift, if they work for a company that matches gifts, if they’d like to hear more about planned giving, or if they’d be interested in having a staff member reach out to them for a meeting.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the online giving experience and the impact it can have on the way donors feel about your institution. If you think your giving form is not creating the experience that you want, it might be time to make some changes. Attracting prospective donors to your website can be a challenge. But once they’re there, your giving form should make the rest of the process a piece of cake.

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