Drive Action by Optimizing Your Online Giving Page: 6 Simple Steps | npENGAGE

Drive Action by Optimizing Your Online Giving Page: 6 Simple Steps

By on Dec 10, 2010


Optimizing your online giving pages should be at the top of your priority list (as far as online goals go), that is, if you’re a non-profit and you’ve got a website. Hopefully you agree. If not, drop me a note in the comments.

The sad news is that if you take a close look around the web you’ll find plenty of poorly executed online giving pages (better known as a landing page). It’s a shame because these pages are critical to a non-profits online success – all the action happens on them. To make sure we’re speaking the same language …

What’s an online giving page? They type of page I’m referring to is any an page where you’re driving web traffic with the goal of getting each visitor to give you a gift – money, volunteer time, gift in kind, etc.

Why’s this important? If your goal is to get people to take the action you desire, making a donation for example, then getting as many people as possible to do it matters.

To further make the point, let’s say you send an email appeal to 2,500 people and 750 (25%) click through to your online giving page. If 1% give a gift then you’ve converted 7.5 out of the 750 who visited the page.

Take that one step further and say the average gift was $50. You just raised $375. Imagine then, if by optimizing your landing page you could increase the conversion rate to 5%. That would give you a total of 36.25 people who gave and a total of $1,812.5 raised.

Would you rather get $375 or $1,812.5 from your email appeal?

No matter where a person is coming from – email, web search, direct mail piece – the conversion, or getting them to take the action you desire, is key. That’s what optimizing your online giving page is all about.

How do I optimize my online giving page? So how do you optimize your online giving page in an effort to increase the likely hood that someone will complete the desired action – give a gift.

These 6 actionable tips will catapult you in the right direction …

1. Prioritize the top

A study by Jakob Nielsen showed that web users spend 80% of their time focused on info above the page fold. That means you should ensure that your page is optimized in a way that puts the most important part of your message at the top.

2. Use attention grabbing images

Research show that people tend to stick around longer and become more engaged when compelling, clean imagery is used – specifically imagery with faces.

Take a look at what non-profit groups like Darkness to Light, Heifer, Ifaw, and LIVESTRONG are doing. Every one of their sites uses pictures of people or animals. And, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that they are looking at you most of the time.

Here’s an example of a great image from the Darkness to Light website. If you read the caption that goes with it (have to go to the site to see it) you’d be moved. It grabs your attention visually and encourages you to take the action they’re asking you to take. You might also consider using other visual elements (size, motion, color, position, shape, etc) to draw attention toward the call to action, but remember, don’t over do it.

3. Don’t overwhelm

Remember what it’s like when you walked through a swap-meet for the first time. Or when you first encountered a super Wal-Mart. What about when you first walked into an Apple store.

I’d be you had two very different feelings that provoked very different reactions.

Think about your pages with this in mind. You want visitors to enjoy what they’re seeing. You want them to feel excited about the energy. And you want them to stick around so they can take it all in.

4. Stay focused

Have you been to It’s not focused.

Your page should have a single focus. One action that you’re driving your visitors to complete. Everything on the page should push your visitors towards completion the action. This means you should be thinking about every element on the page and asking your self … does it guide each person on the page towards the action I’m trying to have him or her take?

What you should have on the page are things that support the action you’re trying to drive. Things like total dollars raised or number of volunteers signed up. Testimonials about how the money or work is making a difference. Information about what the mission of your organization is and how the gifts are being used.

5. Get rid of clutter

If you hold out the point above as your guiding light then this one is simple. Everything on the page that distracts your visitors from completing the desired action should be removed.

6. Keep people on the page

Once a person lands on your online giving page you want to keep them there by removing options to leave the page – outbound links, clickable banners, unnecessary navigation, etc. Everything should be evaluated to ensure it’s 100% essential. If it’s not. Get rid of it. Keeping people around is important.


Ok, your turn. What have you seen effectively increase the conversions on an online giving page? Or you can check out more about online fund raising.

Photo by eBeam


Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Comments (10)

  • marcapitman says:

    Great comments and observations. My big thing isn’t so much about optimizing the giving page as making sure all your online engagement is driving people to that page (or MAYBE a page one click from the giving page).

    • frank barry says:

      I hear ya Marc. It’s odd, but when you think about it, every website, non-profit or for-profit, is geared towards getting people to take some sort of action – purchase, donate, sign up, subscribe, Tweet, etc.

      I think the non-profit world could learn a lot from the traditional web marketing world in terms of how to optimize pages (of all sorts) to achieve the desired action.

  • Kathryn Hall says:

    Good discussion. Another other step I like to add is: Test. Ask a few people to make a donation in front of you and have them narrate the experience out loud. This may pay you back if you find out what could potentially cause problems for folks BEFORE you go live with the form. One of my clients had created what they thought was the ultimate form because it had all of the right elements … but people couldn’t figure out how to use it so their donations dropped way off until they simplified it.

    • frank barry says:

      Good point Kathryn. I could write a whole different post specifically about the actual form (as could you I’m sure). Let’s see who get’s to it first.

    • I agree completely, and would take this even one step further. Do A/B testing after you go live with the form. Even experienced web folks with good knowledge of best practices can be off about what will work best for a specific page or audience.

      This isn’t an example of a giving page, but I think it illustrates the point well. Take a quick look at this A/B test:
      The winning page really surprised me, and I think will surprise most of you. A/B testing gives you actual results with your real audience and you can’t argue with that.

  • Ash Shepherd says:

    Very timely info given the recent study indicating 22% of all online giving in a year happens on the last two days of the year.

    There is still time to make a big impact with these helpful tips.

    Link to Study

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the simplicity aspect is at the core of a make or break giving page. People coming to the site are a mixture of folks who are already fans of the work as well as people who may have come through another venue. No matter who it is, you want to make sure that you do everything in your power to provide clear and easy direction. It’s kind of like Google page results, after the page (or first minute or so of fumbling around), attention span decreases and you either get the “I give up” or “I will…come back later” – both of which equal bad.

  • Above the fold: check
    Faces: double-check
    Focused, clutter-free: triple check
    One-stop page: quadruple check

    To the one-stop page point: keep your gift form as short as possible; no “nice to have” fields, include only required fields. After the gift you’ll have their email address and you can outreach to get more “nice to have” info and build your relationship over time.

  • Event360 says:

    Having a simple, clean landing page is so important, and I
    completely agree with the people here who added testing to the list. Tracking
    your activity is vital in determining your page’s success, so doing A/B testing
    is key to creating a highly effective giving page.  Earlier this year we wrote a post on nonprofit
    A/B testing strategies:

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