This third installment in the Fundraising Best Practice Series will highlight online donation pages.

In most cases your donation page is the only online vehicle for a donor or potential donor to use to make a gift to your nonprofit.  So please, make sure your page is in good working order and easy to navigate. 

Here are some tips to help you along the way: 

Keep it simple.  The more complicated you make the donation process, the greater opportunity there is for something to break down, or for your donors to get confused.  It might not be the prettiest, trendiest or most creative, but if it is simple, functional and tells your story, you’ll get results.

Include trust seals on your giving page.  These would be logos for organizations like the Better Business Bureau, ECFA, Verisign and Charity Navigator

Prominently display your strongest fundraising offer above the fold, followed by the full donation form on a single page.

In case you missed that, I recommend embedding the full donation form onto a single page.  Don’t make people go through a multi-step process to complete a transaction if they don’t have to.

Don’t force visitors to register on your site before they make a gift online.

If you’re curious about how changing color, design, placement, offer or gift amount will impact your results, just test.  You can get a good read off some pretty basic A/B split testing without a lot of extra effort or additional costs.

Implement Google Analytics on your site and donation page so you can track results.

Get rid of fields that don’t matter.  You don’t need to ask for things like title or suffix, and in most cases (unless you have clear results to contradict this), those fund designation options on your donation page are probably not necessary.

Keep the main thing the main thing.  And in this case, the main thing is getting donations.  Don’t load your donation page up with a bunch of other options that can distract or confuse donors from the main reason they’re on your donation page.

Build credibility by including a pie chart or other simple graphic indicating how donated dollars are spent at your organization.

Have strong thank you copy on your site’s thank you confirmation page (and if you have multiple donation pages for different programs/offers, make sure you customize each thank you page to the corresponding donation page).

Similar to your thank you confirmation page, use a custom e-mail thank you receipt for your donation page. Take the opportunity in that first e-mail communication to give your donor the first taste of success from their investment.  Share a compelling story of how their gift helped a client in need or accomplished something great.  And if you have compelling video, link to it on YouTube so donors can get a firsthand look at your work.  You should also take this opportunity to invite donors closer into your organization.  Include links to all your social media pages, and provide them with contact information for tours, volunteer opportunities, etc.

Do include an option for donors to make a monthly gift commitment to the organization.