The humble donation form has but one purpose: to capture a gift. When I see donation pages out there that irritate, frustrate, and even frighten donors, I’m heartbroken. Somewhere a piece of me dies, friends.

While best practices for donation form design have been well articulated for many moons, I suspect you have a “good friend” still losing money with a painful donor experience needing the love of intervention.

To that end, here are 7 of the most revenue-draining donation form sins we need to keep fighting. Let’s continue to make the nonprofit web better, my people.

#1 No mobile experience for donation forms

From a study we did early this year, 9.5% of donors and 19.6% of event registrants are on mobile devices. And those numbers will only continue to grow.

If your website and donation form is not optimized for mobile, you are likely leaving donors behind. Moreover, we found that responsive websites have a 34% higher conversion rate over other websites.

#2 Disregard for the visually impaired

I’m not here to guilt you about web accessibility. This is about real money because 9% of donors have trouble using the web even while wearing glasses. The number climbs with age as does the average gift size! Don’t thwart visitors of your website with small font sizes, hard to read text colors, and poor contrast issues. Better accessibility always equals better usability for all your donors.

#3 Too many donation form fields

Extra fields on a donation form are just “friction” for donors who just want to make a gift. Less friction = better conversions = more donations. Pretty simple, no? Unfortunately, many nonprofits still sadly try to use their donation forms as surveys.

In a still highly relevant case study by Optimizely in 2013, removing the title and phone number fields from a donation form resulted in an increase of 11% in average donations per pageview for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Only collect what you need on your donation form!

#4 Unbranded donation forms

Here’s an impressive new data point a smart colleague named Tom Schneider helped me mine this month. We did a study comparing the performance of unbranded checkout forms against forms designed with a nonprofit’s existing branding standards. What did we find?

On the unbranded checkout forms, donors were 41% more likely to view a donation page and leave without completing their donation than on branded checkouts.

Where did we get our data? We analyzed the conversion rates of over 1,250 nonprofits and 400,000 transactions from Blackbaud’s Payment Services between February 2015 and May of 2015.

Your brand is the single most important trust factor on your donation forms. Don’t forget it!


Want to learn the other 3 sins?

To help illustrate these hard-learned truths, I created another infographic for easy sharing. It also works as a gentle ice-breaker for someone whose donation form needs the love. Let the intervention begin! Enjoy!


Infographic: Seven Most Costly Sins Of Donation Forms

Infographic: Seven Most Costly Sins Of Donation Forms



Brandon Granger curates @Design_for_Good and is a Senior Interaction Designer at Blackbaud for Luminate Online, Online Express, MobilePay, and other products. Brandon has been crafting user experiences for the web and mobile apps for nonprofits for 15+ years. He has a passion for user research, usability testing, high-fidelity prototyping, responsive design, mobile design, and web accessibility. Brandon graduated from the University of North Texas with an undergraduate degree in Film Studies. You can follow him at @bkgranger.

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