4 Ways Canadian Charities Can Optimize Their Donation Pages in 2019 | npENGAGE

4 Ways Canadian Charities Can Optimize Their Donation Pages in 2019

By on Feb 19, 2019


You’ve done the hard work of sending an email, using online ads, or getting website traffic to your donation page… now it’s time to help complete the online giving journey. Unfortunately, this last step is also one of the biggest hurdles for donors as it’s when they actually have to part with their money (cost) and provide their personal information (cost). Ideally, you’ve done a good job communicating your work and the impact of their gift before they got here (value) which got them interested and involved.

But the job isn’t done, they still need to invest, so you need to continue to communicate on the donation page (reinforce value) and have a nice, simple, easy to use form (more value) so that the overall perceived value outweighs the perceived cost in the donor’s mind. If so, they’ll complete their donation. If not, they won’t (more on these stages of donor motivation here).

In looking at my personal experience giving to 152 charities for The Canadian Online Fundraising Scorecard as well as some of our latest benchmark data on main donation page conversion rates, there’s a lot of work to do. But there are also many ways Canadian charities can optimize their donation pages. Here are 4 of them.

  1. Tell people what their donation will do

If you’ve read my previous post on email fundraising this will come as no surprise but by simply being clearer on your donation page in terms what someone’s gift will do can make a world of difference. Because why should you give if you end up here:

Unless you’ve 100% made up your mind your gonna give you money away, that page could stop you in your tracks and you may never come back.

But look at this simple experiment where the addition of a few short paragraphs of copy/text helped communicate what a donation would do and increased donations 150%:

In our study, we saw that 64% of organizations used more than one sentence of copy to share their ‘why’ but if we would’ve looked at how many used more than 3 sentences, that number would drop to 30% or so.

If you want to tell people how their donation will help — and you need to — you have to tell them! Be clear. Be simple. Use copy.

Learn more in Brady’s upcoming webinar: What You Can Learn From 152 Canadian Charities. Click here to register.

  1. Share the reasons for and impact of a recurring donation

Recurring giving is hugely important to long term success in fundraising but if you only look at the online giving experience you would never guess that to be true. Only 10% of organizations gave us a reason to make a recurring donation (as opposed to a one-time donation). The rest just had something like this:

Does that seem like something incredibly valuable to the organization? Or being positioned in a way where it looks like a valuable way to give for the donor? Not really…

And this isn’t unique to Canadian organizations. We also did a study on recurring giving last year with 115 nonprofits in the United States and found pretty much the same thing where just 9% of organizations had a ‘why’ or value proposition for recurring giving on their main donation page.

We saw some neat recurring giving focused ideas in the study like a pop-up at the time of one-time donation, impact calculator, and special donation anchors, but even doing something subtler and simpler like this can help:

You can see that they first answer why a donation is needed and what it will do before nudging you, slightly, toward a monthly gift and why.


If it’s important to you then you need to prioritize it, but make sure you communicate the value of it not through your eyes but through theirs. Is it more impactful? More convenient? Do they get any special treatment? Then tell them.


  1. Remove unnecessary, distracting, and conflicting links and calls to action

    One of the easiest ways to optimize your donation page is to do this:

    1. Take your donation page/form out of your website template to get rid of side, top, and footer navigation
    2. Remove all the additional ways and options of giving other than online
    3. Take away any other calls to action and links that don’t help the donor complete the donation process

All those extra and unnecessary links create friction for the donor and when the different types of friction — more on the 7 types of friction here — become too much, people will abandon their donation.

They clearly see value or some value otherwise they wouldn’t have clicked something to get to your donation page, so confirm your message and then get out of their way! You don’t want them to sign up for your newsletter or connect with you on social media at this stage, so why have those links and options even available?

Here is a very extreme version of all the friction a donation page can create for a donor:

Look at all the distractions and decisions they are making the donor — me in this case — make. It’s so overwhelming I’d just give up if I wasn’t doing it for this study. If the visitor wasn’t actually looking to make a donation for some reason then they can use the back button or dig a bit for a link to take them away. They don’t need to see all the other things you do or things they can do so just remove them.

  1. Add trust factors to build… well… trust

It’s an unfortunate reality but many donors, especially high value older donors, are concerned about the trustworthiness of the organization and the security of their information. So why not make it easier for them to trust you and feel that their information is safe?

Add your charitable registration number, privacy policy, and even third party ‘evidentials’ (testimonials, seals, etc.) that let people see why they should trust you more. And when it comes to security, adding a little ‘lock box’ and shading the credit card area — where people are most information sensitive — are small things that can be a pretty big difference. Like a 14% increase in donations in this case:

Some easy additions on your end can put your donors at ease as well and help you get more donations but in our study we found that:

  • Only 31% of organizations had ‘trust’ marks
  • 39% did NOT have their charitable registration number present on the page
  • And 33% had no privacy policy available

You are a trustworthy organization with good data management and security systems so show your donors that you are when and where it matters.


Those are just a few ideas and examples of how you can improve and optimize your donation page this year. You can see more of our experience and findings from the study here or get more donation page tips here. I’ll also be presenting a webinar on the key findings and ideas from the study so you can sign up and learn more here. Good luck!

Click for more on perfecting your donation pages. 5 Tips for the Perfect Online Donation Form


Brady is the Managing Director of the NextAfter Institute where he performs original research, develops evidence-based resources, and provides data-driven training to help organizations raise more money online to fund their life-changing work.

A charity nerd, adjunct professor, and international speaker, his thoughts have been featured in The Huffington Post, NPR, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy among others. He was the lead researcher and author of The Canadian Online Fundraising Scorecard, The State of Nonprofit Donation Pages, and The State of Nonprofit Email Cultivation. Brady is also a host of The Generosity Freakshow — a podcast discussing how we can improve, optimize, and grow giving.

He lives just outside Dallas, Texas with his wife, Liz, son, Hendrix, and dog, Melly. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, in/bradyjosephson, and follow him on Twitter, @bradyjosephson.

Comments (6)

  • Karen says:

    I love this! Chris Davenport also stresses to make sure and let the donors know what their donation will do and impact. VERY important. Thank you.

  • Shelly Gammieri says:

    Very informative!

  • Mary Sommer says:

    We need to work at the recurring donations.

  • Susan Chomsky says:

    I like the visible security and available privacy policy ideas to ensure transparency.

  • Claudia says:

    These are all good points but I think the easiest to overlook is 3. Always create simple easy calls to actions, consistency in your digital campaigns, having people know where to click to “give now” is key.

  • Michael Lee says:

    Optimizing web pages is so interesting because there is so much that you can A/B test. I thought that it is interesting that the trust factors go up for charities by putting a lockbox around the credit card information. At work, we’ll have to start doing some more testing for optimization. https://givejoy-foundation.org/

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