Getting the Most Out of Your Online Forms

Chad Reid is Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular online form building tool and has previously worked for several nonprofits. He currently lives in Oakland, California with his girlfriend and three cats.


Online forms can help your nonprofit help others—whether you use them to improve your bottom line, acquire talented new workers, throw fundraising events or add members. It doesn’t matter if your organization is large or small, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your web form game. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re utilizing forms to the fullest.

1. Actively Seek Membership Feedback

Nothing gauges the temperature of your members quite like a survey or feedback form, and there’s nothing like anonymity to really elicit truthful feedback. That’s why feedback forms (where you don’t include a name field) are incredibly valuable—even crucial—to a nonprofit’s success.

Don’t be afraid to include blunt, open-ended questions. For example, “Describe your level of satisfaction with our organization” or, “How can we be better?” Even if a negative response or two stings at first, it can lead to meaningful change.

2. Simplify Donations

Online donation forms are a tricky beast, but they are also the absolute lifeblood for many nonprofits. As mentioned in a previous Nonprofit Hub post, PayPal donations offer a trusted, simplified way to collect payments. Using an online form building service that integrates with PayPal (or Stripe,, etc.) can make the process even more seamless for donors. This way you can select payment option buttons, establish subscription-based donations and remove any barriers potential donors might have before giving away their money.

As for setting up the form, consider making multiple payment tiers ($5, $25, $100, etc.) so that form visitors can see ideal donation amounts. Including an extra option for a “custom amount” is great incase anyone wishes to give even more than you’ve already specified.

3. Utilize Integrations

Whether you’re running a one-person show or are part of a huge organization, you have systems. So why not integrate your web forms with those very same systems? It’s never been easier to connect leads, donors, applicants and volunteers to CRM systems, email systems and even Google Sheets. That means that whenever someone responds to a form, the information you need is updated without having to manually enter any information.

4) Pay Some Attention to Branding

Obviously any form that you’re embedding to your website should match the site’s aesthetics—but you should pay the same attention to standalone forms too (the ones with links you share on social media, email and job postings).

You don’t have to be a professional designer to appreciate branding. Take a little extra time to include your organization’s colors, logo, messaging and any fonts that are distinctly related to your nonprofit’s brand. It adds a level of legitimacy and trust that is important for form visitors.

Have you tried these tips above for your online forms? Do you have any other ideas for creating better nonprofit web forms? Let us know in the comments section below.


Chad Reid

Chad Reid is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. He is the director of communications for JotForm, a form building software often used by nonprofits to power volunteer applications, donation forms, summer camp registration and more.

May 13, 2015

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