We've all heard the expression, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink." 

And maybe you've even heard the clever addendum, "But you can salt their oats." Which is to say that there are subtler, more effective ways to make the water irresistible to the horse. 

It's the same with prospective donors: you can lead them to your online donation page but you can't make them complete a transaction. But you can make giving more enticing. 

Salty donation pages, thirsty donors, refreshing contributions. You get the idea.

Whether or not you followed that rather kooky horse metaphor, my point is this: there are many strategies you can try (read: test) to improve the conversion rate of your donation page. Several are simple and easy to implement. Here are four of my favorites:

  1. Flipping the script - take a new perspective with your copy. Instead of phrases like, "We rely on contributions to carry out our mission," try positioning it as, "Your contributions make art education classes accessible to more children." Speak in terms of the donor's impact and be specific about the value their donations have. 
  2. Noise canceling - cut down on confusion and distraction and help your donors stay on task by removing navigation headers from your donation page. When a visitor has begun a transaction by clicking the "donate" button, they shouldn't continue to see tabs about events, resources, or other navigational links that may lead them astray. Just for this page, remove the full navigation bar and keep it clean.
  3. Locking it down - helping donors feel secure about giving you their payment details (even if only subconsciously) will increase the odds of gift completion. Try adding a padlock icon somewhere on your checkout page or directly on the 'submit' button. Alternatively, you could add a little text to the page that says something like, "This site is secure and your data is encrypted. " Overt references to security can go a long way in helping your donor follow through.
  4. Showing the money (or not) - some research has shown that giving gift arrays (buttons with pre-selected amounts that the donor can choose) works better than using an open field (where donors type in their own amounts). And then there's research that says open fields are the way to go - especially with returning donors. The only way to know for sure what works for your prospective donors is to test them out. If you've always used a gift array, try using an open field instead and track your results. Or, try using an open field in addition to the array. But watch out: reversing the order of the array (ie. $250, $100, $50, $25) has been shown to cause a decrease in donations and average gift size. If you try an array, keep it in 'lowest to highest' order or test into a reverse order before making it your default. 

So go ahead and tweak your donation page today. Test some new language or try a less-distracting page layout. You may be surprised at how many more of your website visitors turn into thirsty horses  donors. 

Keep Up the Good Work,


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