Two Simple Ways to Increase Your Online Giving

November 23, 2009

Several weeks ago I decided to make a donation a local nonprofit organization I worked with years ago and promote them on Twitter, thinking that I might be able to drive a few extra dollars their way.

So I paid a visit to their website to make a donation and copy the url.

I searched and searched for a way to give.  I knew that they had the capability because yours truly had set it up all those years ago.

After searching through several pages, I finally came across this paragraph at the bottom of one page:

If you would like to donate via the internet please go to or . Once on one of those sites you can just search for ORGANIZATION’S NAME. You will then be lead to our donation page.

Folks I couldn’t make this stuff up.


One of the first rules of thumb is to make it EASY TO GIVE.

If you’ve been in the field of nonprofit fundraising as long as I have – particularly if you’ve been working with smaller organizations – you may well recall the time when boards argued endlessly about whether or not their organization should even have a website.


According to the 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, while 2008 certainly wasn’t a red-letter year for fundraising in general, even in today’s tight economic times, nonprofit organizations showed a 43% increase in online gifts.  In fact, the total amount of money raised online increased 26% from 2007 to 2008.  Further, studies show that about half of those who receive your appeal for funds in the mail will go first to your website (the same holds true for that program officer reviewing your grant proposal, by the way).

It goes without saying that your organization should be collecting email addresses (my newsletter, The Grow Report, recently featured  simple, step-by-step instructions for setting up your web-site’s email opt-in box and systematizing your email newsletters).  And it should go without saying that one key to online giving lies in genuinely engaging potential donors.   This requires a regular schedule of emailed newsletters – at minimum once a month, but preferably weekly or biweekly.

Now, optimize your website for online giving by following these two simple rules:

  1. Make giving an online donation as easy as possible.  Include a conspicuous “Donate” button on every page of your site.  Yes, conspicuous.  Yes, every page.
  2. Include a hyperlink “Donate” button on every email sent out by every staff member within the signature line (and what’s to say you can’t request that your board do the same?).

Yes, I know you’re swamped.  Yes, I know your resources are limited.  Yes, I know that there’s more to online giving than these two steps.  Confucius say:  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

How can you create an organization that’s donor-focused, year round?  Learn why called Simple Development Systems: Fundraising for the one-person development office a road map to success that can take the scary out and bring in a sense of comfort, self-confidence, and focus about what can and should be done.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie Lambert November 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

#3: Include a distinct hyperlink for giving in every piece of direct mail, so that:

a) When they go online to check you out, they have a means to give online with a memorable, meaningful hyperlink, and,

b) You can TRACK which mail appeals they’ve responded to online if you make each memorable, meaningful hyperlink distinct from one another…and from the general button.


Nancy Schwartz November 24, 2009 at 9:00 am

You’re right on the mark, Pamela.

One more recommendation — make sure the donate now button is “above the fold” (i.e. users don’t need to scroll down to see it) on every page!

Keep up the great work.


Susan Bender Phelps December 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Also please remember to include a down-loadable donation form for those donors who still won’t give on-line. Make sure it has all of the necessary mailing info.

Lisa Garcia-Ruiz December 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

These are great tips Pamela, thank you! This is something that every nonprofit should think about. I truly believe in taking baby steps to accomplish any goal, large or small.

Elaine Fogel April 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

So true, Pamela. One of the newer studies also shows test results using different colored donation buttons. Always a good thing to test.

Cherita Smith August 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

It seems so basic to me — make it easy, make it obvious. I forget how many organizations still struggle with this. Thanks for reminding people!

Pamela Grow August 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm

It IS basic, Cherita, but it’s amazing how many people still muck it up. Thanks for commenting!

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