Three things your donation page just has to have

Donation Page Needs

A specific reason to give today, now

This might seem like Fundraising 101, having an actual reason for someone to donate.

But one of the common misconceptions of digital generally is ‘build it and they will come’. When someone comes to your online donation page, all that’s happened is the horse being led to water (not that our valuable donors are like horses in any other respect of course) – you still have to make them drink.

You do that by showing:

  • Need – nobody donates just to keep a charity going. Why do you need that person to complete the form?
  • Urgency – why does that person need to donate today?
  • Uniqueness – why should that person give to your charity over another?

You don’t have a lot of space to get that across either. Text headlines, and crucially images should communicate 99% of what you need to say.

In-line validation

We are all vain creatures at heart. We like encouragement. We like to be told we’re doing a good job.

So how frustrating is it to get to the end of a form that we slogged through to complete, only to be told that we’ve messed it up somehow? How do you feel as scroll back to the top of the page, searching for tiny red text that explains in oblique language how you, an intelligent human, have managed to fall short in this straightforward task? And what’s it like to scroll back down the page again and try to fix those minuscule errors?

These are not the emotions that lead to someone giving your charity money.

Luckily, you and your website agency can avoid it through inline validation.

Quite simply, when someone fills in one of the fields on your form correctly (say by entering a valid email address), a little green tick appears next to the field.

That way, the person completing the form knows they’re on the right track as they go.  They get subtle positive feedback, which creates the emotional impetus to complete the form. Which raises more money for your excellent cause, and changes lives as a result.

The ability to procreate

Say your charity runs a campaign around a specific need. That might be time-bound (an emergency appeal if you’re an international development charity) or case study-bound (donating to help more people like X).

Your supporter gets an email or sees a Facebook post relating to that exact reason to give. They’re emotionally charged by what they read, and they click on the link to your website.

If they see your generic landing page, which will most likely have different images and unrelated text, then something called cognitive dissonance takes place in their brains. It’s like their subconscious asked for directions to Slough, found itself on a snow-capped mountain with stunning views, and turned back, simply assuming it had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

To avoid this, create campaign-specific donation pages. These are versions of your donation page that only people who are being asked to donate to that campaign see.

Make sure they include:

  • The title of your appeal in nice big letters
  • The same image as the content they clicked through from
  • A shopping list that relates to the appeal specifically, not your work generally

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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap