August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Engage Donors on your Website

Dana Jensen • Production Director

Designing a website for your organization can be tricky.  First you have to make sure all of the important information is there.  Then you have to make sure it is engaging.  Finally, you have to make sure that your website speaks to all of your unique audiences.  All of this information has to be portrayed almost immediately upon entering your site.  As a nonprofit, one of the audiences you must cater to are your donors – prospective or recurring.  Here at Visceral, we have many tricks and tips to engage all of your audiences.  Here are the top five ways to engage donors on your website.

Have a clear, compelling mission that is easy to understand

Most donors decide to give money to your particular cause because it means something to them.  They connect with it on a personal level.  Having a clear mission helps prospective donors understand what you do and why you do it in a quick snapshot.  Show the user about your dynamic culture and get them to rally behind it. Make sure your mission statement is easily accessible on your website.  Either by having it on the homepage immediately or a quick and clear link away.

Using an accessible donation platform

The donation experience is very important to your site.  If it is overly complicated, too difficult to fill out or not personal, this could turn many donors off from donating to your cause.  To ease the donation process and make it stand out:

Say exactly where their money is being used – and let them choose if possible. One of our clients, the Wildlife Conservation Network is a great example of this.  They allow you to choose the specific animal that you would like to donate to help.  They also offer the choice “where needed most” if you don’t have a particular connection to an animal.  This is great because it helps the user know exactly where they are helping.


Allow for recurring donations – allowing for recurring donations creates the ease of use that the modern person is looking for. Many people would do a one-time donation and not think about it again but if you give them the opportunity they might decide to give every month instead. The National MS Society has a nice donation process that allows for a recurring donation shown below.


Simplify the process – Keeping the donation process simple and streamlined will enable users to give and move on without much hassle or asking for too much information. Only gather the information that you absolutely need from the donor.  One of our clients, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, has a very streamlined process including an embedded form directly on their website.


Provide value to donors or potential donors

The best way to provide value to potential and recurring donors is to have a newsletter or blog that they can subscribe to.  If they are interested in your cause, they undoubtedly would be interested in gaining more information on the subject.  Make the signup conveniently located on your website, whether in the footer or on the side.  The signup process needs to be simple as well.  Find a happy medium between gathering information so your organization can create a contact and profile from them (Name, Email, Which newsletter they want to receive if there is more than one) but don’t try to gather so much information where the user decides not to sign up (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Facebook profile etc.).

Optimize your homepage

Your homepage is the very first thing that the user will see.  Make sure it is in good shape. Some questions to ask yourself about your homepage:

  • Does it clearly state who you are as an organization and is it obvious what you do?
  • Is there an obvious link to donate to your cause?
  • Does it bring forward the most compelling and important information for your most significant audiences?

If you answer no to any of these questions, maybe it’s time for a redesign.

Understand and cater to different generations of donors

It can be surprising how different generations are from each other.  Comparing the giving habits of a millennial as compared to a baby boomer is like comparing peanut butter to pickles.  There are things you can do that make it accessible to all generations.

First, and arguably most importantly, make sure your entire donation process (and site really) is mobile optimized, meaning donors can use their phone, tablet, smart watch, laptop or desktop computer to navigate the donation process with ease.  As trends veer more toward mobile usability, it is important to optimize the process for these surfaces.  Another way to cater to different generations is to make sure you are being transparent with where their money is going to.  No matter what generation they are, they will appreciate knowing that their money is going to good use.  The final way to cater to different generations is to offer recurring donations and the option to donate by sending in a check.  As mentioned above, the recurring donation is a great way to encourage repeat donations.  For older generations where users may not be as technically savvy but have spending power, allowing them to set up recurring donations or have the paper option could make their process much simpler.

Have other ideas or questions? We would love to hear from you!



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