COVID-19: Securing Support Through Your Online Donation Page
by Mike Montalto
April 21, 2020

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The COVID-19 pandemic likely has made it much harder for you to raise money. Maybe you had to cancel a major fundraising event. Or you decided to hold off on your regular spring appeal for now. While people are still mailing checks, many have turned to digital means for everything, including their philanthropy. Your online donation page is more important than ever.

In uncertain times like these, it’s even more important to make it easy for donors to give. You also need to remind donors how every donation, no matter how small, furthers your mission during the outbreak.

Your online giving page needs to be up to par. It is your best chance of raising money right now. You can’t afford to let a less than optimal donation page drive your supporters off your website.

So, how do you know if you’re making the most of your online donation page? And how can you optimize it to raise more money during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Here’s what you need to know:

Online Conversion Rate

First, it’s important to get a feel for the effectiveness of your online donation page. Analyzing donations alone can be misleading. Instead, you need to calculate your online donor conversion rate to get the full picture.

Luckily, it’s easy to calculate your online conversion rate, as long as you are tracking your web analytics. Just take your total number of online donations and divide it by the total number of visitors to your online donation page during a given time period.

This makes it easy to grasp how effective your online donation page is at securing support. The average online conversion rate for nonprofits is just 17 percent. So, you have some work to do if your conversion rate is below that.

Make it Easy to Give

It’s more important than ever to make it easy for donors to support your organization. Your web traffic is probably down, unless your organization is fighting the pandemic on the frontlines. So, you can’t afford to let people get frustrated by a poor donation page and leave before giving.

First, cut the clutter from your online donation page. There are plenty of other pages on your website where supporters can learn about each of your initiatives and the details behind them.

So, don’t clog up your online donation page with extra information. Keep it focused on securing support and make sure the action you want donors to take is clear.

You should also offer multiple forms of payment for donors who want to support you. New donors may not want to put their credit card info into a website they just discovered. So, consider using a secure third-party platform like PayPal as another payment option.

And don’t forget to make it easy for donors to give by limiting the amount of time they need to spend on your online giving page. Keep any forms short and only ask for information that is essential to securing a donation. Long forms can intimidate donors and cause them to leave your page before they donate.

Update for COVID-19

One of the great things about a digital first fundraising strategy is the flexibility that comes with it. So, you shouldn’t set and forget your donation page once you have a strategy that works.

Consider updating your donation page to reflect how your organization’s work is making an impact on the people affected by the pandemic.

This is especially important if you are participating in #GivingTuesdayNow. You can use a special header featuring #GivingTuesdayNow branding. The people behind the day of giving have made it easy for you by providing a Google Drive folder full of resources, toolkits, and assets your organization can use.

Even if you are not focused on the day of giving, you can still make updates that stress the urgent need for donations during the pandemic. Use images and testimonials that remind your supporters how your organization is working on the frontlines or behind the scenes to make an impact.

Once the pandemic is behind us, you can revert to your normal online giving page. But making some changes now to reflect the current reality of our world can help you secure support you may have otherwise missed out on.

Your Digital Fundraising Strategy

However, all of this advice won’t be helpful if your online donation page stands on its own. Afterall, your online giving page is just one piece of the digital first strategy you’ve built for this pandemic, right?

You can’t trust that likeminded supporters will find their way to your page on their own. You need an effective digital strategy that uses emails, social media, peer-to-peer campaigns and other digital communications that drive visitors to your online donation page.

And non-ask communications are important too. If your message inspires donors to want to learn more on their own, their first stop will be your website. And your homepage should give them the information they are looking for while directing them to your online donation page.

COVID-19 has changed the way many of us approach fundraising, at least for now. Your online giving page needs to be in optimal shape to help carry your fundraising initiatives during this difficult time.

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