The Horrors of Online Giving Pages Gone Bad

As a member of our Customer Engagement Team I have the privilege of working alongside our customers to help ensure they get the full potential out of our online giving solution, DonateQ.  One of the ways I do this is by helping our customers setup their Giving Page.  Your Giving Page is how you end the conversation with your donor.  Think about that. How would you end a conversation with a donor in person? Especially when you just asked for money and hold hopes for their return? If your online donation page is not completely autonomous with your website you are probably losing valuable donations.

No matter who your online giving provider is it’s critical your Giving Page is dialed-in.  Unfortunately, some organizations limit their giving potential due to poor planning and lack of attention to their Giving Page. In some cases this is due to working with an online giving solution which lacks the flexibility and features required to present an effective Giving Page to their donors.  Branded giving pages raise 54% of the donations made online and do significantly better in donation conversions than unbranded or “other-branded” parties (i.e. Paypal, Network for Good).

Below are some of the most common “nightmare” scenarios I come across with online giving pages. Take a moment and score your Giving Page on these 4 areas.  How does your organization measure up?

Count Them: How Many Clicks Does it Take to Get to Your Giving Page?

Don’t assume because you have donations coming in that your donation button placement cannot be improved upon.  Count the number of clicks it takes to get to your Giving Page.  Ask friends and family who are not familiar with your organization’s website to time how long it takes them to find how to give.  You need this process to be intuitive and considerate of your donors’ time.   If it takes me more than 10 seconds to find your Giving Page you need to do better.  Consider moving your Donation button to the main navigation bar of your site, this way no matter where your donors are within your site, your Giving Page is just a single click away.

Is your donation button clearly labeled: Online Giving, Donate, Donate Now, Giving…  It is important to use terms that are instantly recognized as ways to give.  Avoid ambiguous labels like, “Ways You Can Help” “Get Involved”, “More Info” – yes, these could lead you to links about Giving but it isn’t immediately apparent by name alone.  Don’t forget that your donors may be accessing your website solely for the purpose of donating.  They were reached by your mission elsewhere and just want to “pay the bill”.  Be clear how to do that.

Look and Feel

When donors come to your Giving Page and the transition from your website to the Giving Page is jarring (meaning they suddenly left this beautifully branded, moving site and landed in a perfunctory process that looks nothing like your website or worse it hasn’t been stylized at all) you can actually lose the trust of your donor. This transition has to be seamless, a natural extension of your website.  Your brand should carry over and donors should ideally have no idea they have moved from your website.  It’s a big deal!  Do you know branded giving pages actually raise six times more in contributions than unbranded or “other-branded” giving pages.  When you have not thoughtfully crafted your Giving Page experience for your donor it’s almost like you walked away from them in the middle of a conversation (awkward).  Look and Feel is important because it maintains the trust and confidence in placing an online gift and it is the final step of your donors’ mission experience. 

Insufficient Giving Options

Now that your donor is on your Giving Page you want to be sure you have the categories or areas of giving that will resonate most.  What projects or campaigns have you created to reach your mission’s goals?  Do you have those projects or campaigns spelled out on your Giving Page?  Can a donor come to your page and enter: $1,000 next to the campaign or project they are most passionate about?  If not, you are de-emphasizing the emotional connection of this experience for your donor (and possibly reducing the amount of their gift in the process).

I realize there is a delicate balance between offering restrictive giving options, but only offering “General Fund” or “Where Needed Most” is completely anticlimactic for a donor.  Take your message and your mission and bring that to your Giving Page in a way that empowers your donors to enter a dollar amount next to their campaign/project – the one they care about the most.

You already have your areas of giving outlined on your Giving Page?  Great when is the last time you looked at them?  You want to be sure they are current and any outdated/completed campaigns and projects have been removed.  It is tempting to cross your Giving Page off your checklist and never look back.  Keeping it updated, relevant and connected to how your donors may emotionally respond reflects integrity and sound management of both funds, and how you care for your donor.  If you haven’t already, put this on your calendar to review quarterly at a minimum.

Personalized Confirmation Message and Email Receipt

Your donor has successfully completed their donation, what is your final impression as they finish their online donation?  Have you personalized your confirmation and email receipt? The confirmation message is the message that pops up after the donor submits their donation; it lets them know if their donation was successful.  You want this response to be personal and more than just: “Approved.  Thank you.”

The email receipt is where you typically have the most freedom to express your gratitude.  The donor needs to know they are a big deal.  Their gift just changed lives and made a difference for those you serve.  Let them know how and be sure to speak in “we” terms – they are now a part of your team.  Love ‘em up and as with any new first time donor, follow that donation up with a quick phone call to thank them for trusting you with their support.


How did your Giving Page measure up?  If you need help or are curious if your page could use some love or be better utilized, call your online giving provider. Ask the support team for some feedback on your Giving Page, they may have some suggestions for you to consider.  Want to know what we think?  We will be happy to give you feedback. I know my team here at MinistryLINQ welcomes the chance to come alongside our customers and assist them getting the full potential out of their online donations.  Our goal is to allow you to focus less on payment processing and more on what really matters: Your Mission.