SeanChisholm
Sean Chisholm
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Increasing Donor Conversion Rates with Custom Forms

Donor conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors to a donation page that actually complete the form and make a gift. If you work at a nonprofit, then obviously the more you can increase this percentage the better. And because even small positive increases to your donor conversion rate can add up to many extra donations over time, it makes sense to do your best to optimize it. To help get you started, we’ve put together four simple ways that you can modify your use of donation pages to help boost donor conversion.

1. Minimize External Navigation and Steps

donor conversion rates

It’s pretty surprising to see how often nonprofits make it difficult to complete the donation process. We’ve seen some organizations that literally have five different screens you need to complete to make a gift! Take it from us, that’s not the way to go.

At the end of the day, you should be looking to do two things with any donation page you create. Make the page simple and make it self-contained. By simple we mean allowing visitors to complete a gift in one screen and by self-contained we mean removing external links that will bring visitors off the donation page.

If you take a look above at the sample page we generated using StayClassy’s donation page software, you will notice that the header on top doesn’t have any links to other sections of the website. It only has the logo and background color we added. That’s by design. When you send people to a checkout page, you want them to stay there and complete what they started. If you add extra links that give visitors a chance to bounce out of the process, you are going to lower your donor conversion rate because some people will click away before completing the gift. Remember, just keep it simple and self-contained.

2. Customize Your Main Donation Form

We’ve written before about the importance of making sure the main donation page on your website is branded to match the rest of your website design. That’s because branded donation forms receive larger average contributions and they make donors more likely to come back and give again. Matching the branding of your main donation page to the rest of your website design is important for another reason too. It helps to maximize your donor conversion rate.

Whenever you are guiding someone from one page on your website to another page, you want the flow to be logical and intuitive. This keeps the viewer from becoming disoriented and it helps them remain engaged. When you are sending people to your donation form, there’s nothing worse than leading them to a page that doesn’t match the design of the rest of your site. It’s visually jarring and it will lead a certain amount of people to just click away immediately. If you haven’t already put up a branded checkout page on your website, then one of the simplest ways to increase your donor conversion rate is by taking care of that right away.

3.  Match Special Appeals to Custom Forms

Each special appeal (whether it’s for a holiday campaign, natural disaster, or something else) will have its own messaging, branding, and images. When you direct supporters from the email appeal back to your general donation page, you risk losing the emotional momentum that the text and images of the appeal were able to conjure up in the first place. The better practice is to try and match the donation page you use with the style and substance of the actual appeal.

Imagine for a moment that you are running a nonprofit that helps preserve the habitat of orangutans. You are about to send out a special holiday appeal asking supporters to save the life one of these animals by making a donation. Now take a look at the example form above. We created this donation page in a couple minutes to fit this hypothetical scenario. You can see that the form is branded (presumably to match the email appeal itself) and contains simple messaging at the top to reinforce the message of the appeal (to “save a life”).

We all know that people are moved to give by their emotions. When you touch someone enough to get them to click through an email to make a contribution, the last thing you want to do is let them lose that feeling by sending them to a generic form. When you spin up a donation form that matches the look and feel of your appeal, you minimize the chances of this happening and maximize your donor conversion rate for that appeal.

As a side note, you may have noticed that we changed the default gift amounts we displayed on the example above. This was to highlight another reason why customized donation pages help produce better returns with special appeals. If you segment your donors based on past gift amount (and you should), you can direct them to different donation pages with appropriate default gift ranges. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently downgrade  larger donors by presenting them with a list of options outside of their true giving range!

4. Create a Separate Form for Monthly Donors

A final way you increase your donor conversion rate is by creating a separate form for your monthly donors. There are two main reasons why you might want to do this. First it allows you to preserve the branding and messaging you create around your monthly giving program. While we didn’t change the look in the example above, we did alter the top text to reflect the fact that visitors hitting this page have responded to an appeal to become a monthly donor. If you have different branding that you’ve created around your monthly giving program you can also change the design of the page to preserve that branding. Second, by creating a separate page, you can default the selection to monthly recurring donations and set specific suggested donation levels for your monthly donors (perhaps corresponding with the most common amounts given monthly). By taking care of the selection ahead of time, you remove a step that the donor would otherwise have to make on their own. And as is always the case with donation forms, the easier they are to complete the better!


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Photo Credit: Flickr User crdotx

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