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How to Use Pass-Through Parameters for Your Nonprofit Donation Page

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By Korrin Bishop

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Published August 6, 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Making the donor experience as easy as it can be directly impacts your nonprofit’s ability to acquire donations. Tailoring campaign materials to specific donor segments also adds a layer of customization that encourages giving. Using pass-through parameters is a simple way to achieve both of these goals.

In this post, we’ll cover what pass-through parameters are and how to incorporate them into your nonprofit’s website or Classy donation page. We’ll also cover a few best use cases to give you some ideas on how to test them out.

What Are Pass-Through Parameters?

Pass-through parameters are special tags you can add to the end of a website address that allow you to pass information from your website or email campaigns to your Classy donation page. You can use them to customize suggested donation amounts, pre-select the recurring giving option, or even have some of a donor’s information already filled out on a form.

For example, let’s say a donor wants to give $250 to The Salvation Army. On the nonprofit’s webpage, they’d first select the $250 option, as shown below circled in green.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

Once they click the “Donate” button, they’re sent to The Salvation Army’s Classy donation form. The green circle on the website’s URL below shows where the pass-through parameter is that tells the campaign page to pre-select the $250 donation amount on the Classy donation form.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

Pass-through parameters essentially allow for a web experience customized to a user’s responses. Classy supports a variety of pass-through parameters, including contact information, donation amount, recurring frequency, and currency.

You can learn more about the technical aspects of pass-through parameters and how to incorporate them into your links in our Guide to Pass-Through Parameters.

3 Best Practices for Using Pass-Through Parameters

There are a few different ways nonprofits can use pass-through parameters to improve the donor experience. We’ve summarized some approaches you can try below.

1. Embed a Donation Form Directly Onto Your Website

Your nonprofit may want to embed a donation form directly on your website rather than link out to your Classy page. You can do so by adding a widget to your website that provides donors with easy access to your donation form. The information donors enter into that form will then pass through to their Classy donation page when they click submit.

Whichever fields your donors fill out directly on your page will automatically populate into the Classy donation form for a quick checkout process. If donors are using Apple Pay, Google Pay, or an ACH transfer to make their donation, this can then turn into a one-click process.

KIPP Public Schools uses this approach for a seamless donor experience. The screenshot below shows the donation form they’ve incorporated onto their website, as well as some sample information entered into the form.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

After clicking the “Payment Info” button, all of that information is included in the pass-through parameters in the URL for the Classy donation form, as shown below.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

As a result, the form is fully filled out and just needs the donor’s credit card number to complete.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

2. Customize Your Email Appeals for Different Donor Segments

When you’re sending out your email appeals, you don’t want to direct your major donors and your smaller donors to a campaign page suggesting a $15 donation. While that amount might appeal to a particular segment, it doesn’t make sense for a major donor whose last gift was $5,000.

Pass-through parameters allow you to send emails with tailored links for each of your donor segments. Once you’ve established the different donor groups for your email segments, the link you embed into their emails will include pass-through parameters that align with their expected donation amounts, just how The Salvation Army example included “amount=50” in the URL to tell the form to pre-select $50 for the donation amount.

If you want to customize the process even further for a select group of your biggest donors, you can custom-populate their donation forms to include all of their information automatically, such as name and address, for a highly personalized donation experience.

3. Encourage Recurring Giving and Simplify Your Message

Recurring giving is a key donation strategy for nonprofits to ensure they have a reliable funding source through challenging times. Pass-through parameters can encourage your supporters to join this effort.

You can set up pass-through parameters so that the monthly giving option on your donation form is pre-selected when a donor clicks through to it. You can also tailor the frequency of a recurring gift to be weekly, quarterly, or another timeframe.

Pass-through parameters can also help simplify the ask on your recurring giving campaign page. Having a full donation form can pull attention away from the stories and imagery you’re using to inspire supporters. Instead, you can have a streamlined donation form that collects basic donor information and the recurring amount.

Many Hopes uses this approach for its monthly giving campaign, where it invites donors to join The Family. The bulk of its campaign page is dedicated to telling the nonprofit’s story through imagery, video, and text. However, it also includes a donation widget at the top that collects the donor’s gift amount, first and last name, email address, and phone number.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

Those fields, as well as the recurring option, are then included in the URL for the Classy campaign page, as shown in the green circle in the screenshot below. These pass-through parameters pre-select $50 on a monthly basis as the donation amount, and pre-fill in Sally Donor’s name, phone number, and email address.

pass-through parameter example on campaign page

Use Pass-Through Parameters to Elevate Your Donation Forms

Pass-through parameters allow you to customize the donation experience for your supporters based on different segments and campaigns. They’re an easy way to make the donation process simple and seamless.

For more ways to level-up your nonprofit donation form and optimize your fundraising campaigns for conversion, request a product demo or explore our checklists:

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