Online Giving is Here to Stay, Folks—and it’s Bigger Than Ever

Great news from a new study by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN): Online giving is bigger than ever. In 2013, internet users donated more than any previous year, with online giving up 14% since 2012. More than 5.5 millions total gifts and nearly $325 million were raised, making 2013 a huge year for nonprofits working to optimize their online presence.

The average one-time donation went up as well, from $60 to $68 ($57 via email only), and overall nonprofit website traffic grew 16%.

And lest you think social media is a waste of time, the study showed that organizations’ annual social growth is also on the rise, with the average number of Facebook fans increasing 37% and Twitter followers increasing 46%.

The comprehensive study tracked 53 nonprofits, including UNICEF, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, AARP, Feeding America and the Human Rights Campaign.

Of course, just because online giving is trending upward, it doesn’t mean your NPO (or anyone else’s) can rest on its laurels and enjoy the increased revenue without continuing to optimize your online presence.

Don’t let laziness creep in. Here are three easy steps you can take this month to keep encouraging the online donation love.

1. Brand Your Donation Form

If you’re still using a generic donation form that’s branded to fit the underlying merchant (think PayPal) and doesn’t look like the rest of your website, it’s time for a change. While these generic forms are functional and allow you to accept donations, they aren’t as effective as branded donation forms. Data from Network for Good shows that branded donation forms receive average gifts that are 38% larger than the average gifts made through generic pages. Plus, people who contribute through a branded donation checkout page are 66% more likely to come back and donate again.

2. Optimize Your Donate Now Button

This button is proof that little things can make a big difference. Some key considerations for your Donate Now button include:

  • Make it noticeable. Size does matter, according to Donor Digital. Bigger donate buttons help convert more donors.

  • Use color. Colorful, high-contrast donate buttons work better than gray buttons.

  • Frame the button in a compelling way with a strong persuasive message above the call to action. Use it to persuade donors on the fence.

  • Make it accessible from every page. The act of giving is immediate. Since you can’t predict which page will inspire someone to give, increase your chances of receiving a donation by putting the button on every page of your website (as well as in your emails and newsletters).

3. Reduce the Fields on Your Website’s Donation Form

Simply put, people hate filling out long forms. Plus, they don’t like giving away too much sensitive information. Couple those two facts, and a long donation form could be killing your conversion rate. Be sensitive to your donors’ time and privacy concerns by limiting the fields on your donation form. Just ask for the information you need in order to complete the online transaction. Take a look at your form—do you have unnecessary fields? Eliminate them and make your form as lean (and less intimidating) as possible.

In the mood for more facts, figures and really cool stats from that online giving report? Download the full 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study.