Should my website have a donate button?

Should my website have a donate button?

Why would you want to have a donate button on your website? Doesn't that make you look like you're begging? Doesn't a donate button irritate visitors to your website?

Websites provide a great opportunity to connect with your parishioners or supporters. Of course, it should provide information about your programs and ministries. But it can do more.

Adding a donate button with a concrete call to action invites your visitors to participate in your mission.

It will not surprise anyone who is visiting your site. They know that you run off donations. If they don't want to click the button, they don't have to. But you want to make sure that you make it easy for them to give if they DO want click that button.

A call to action that should stand out!

Here are a few tips to make sure that your donate button works as expected:

  1. Your donate button should be prominently displayed on the site, near the top of the page.
  2. Put the donate button multiple places on your main page. You can make one more prominent (the one at the top), but a visitor should encounter it more than once. Don't be afraid; they expect you to ask.
  3. The color should be jump out at your audience, but fit in with the overall color scheme of your site.
  4. Research has shown that different color buttons do a better job attracting clicks and gifts. Do some testing and see what color turns more visitors into donors.
  5. Don't feel like you have to use the word 'Donate'… using another action verb can be just as effective. Different phrases can be used: Tithe Today, Feed the Hungry, Build Our Church. You want to create a connection between the donor's gift and the good that it will accomplish usually works best.
  6. Follow the leaders. Look at the way that the big non-profits use the donate button on their website. Most of them are using highly paid fundraising consultants to design their pages. Imitate the best.

Some donate page "do's"

When the person clicks on your donate button, this will lead them to your donate page. They have already shown that they are inclined to give by clicking on the donate button. This page will determine how much they will give. Here are some things to think about to maximize their gifts:

  • Make your donate page as simple as possible to use. Here, as in all fundraising, confusion is the enemy of action. If the donor can't figure out how to make the donation, you'll miss the opportunity.
  • Recurring gifts make a huge impact on the bottom line and will often take the intended one-time gift and turn it into on-going support. You can increase your number of monthly recurring gifts by adding the option to make the gift every month and using that as the default setting. You are not trying to trick the donor here, but you are providing a gentle nudge in the direction you want them to go. Of course a one time gift is just as appreciated.
  • One effective practice is to have pre-set giving levels that tie to a concrete outcome. So you might have $25, $50, $75, and other as options that people can select. Put the highest dollar option at the top of the list, and other at the bottom. You will get higher average donations that way. The concrete outcome might be something like, "Feed a family of four 10 meals" for the $25 dollar level, etc. This is not strictly necessary, but it helps to make a connection between the donation and something tangible.
  • Include an appealing image that connects with the donation being made. Giving is an emotional decision, not necessarily a rational one. Images of your work can stir an emotional response and increase giving.
  • Add information about other ways to give besides online. Make sure this isn't too distracting, though. Put it underneath the form or in a subtle sidebar.

Other considerations.

Again, thanking people is incredibly important. You should be able to set up automatic thank you emails / receipts for all web-based donations. This is standard for most of the donation platforms out there. If yours doesn't, consider changing to one that does.

I also recommend personally thanking people who make a gift over a certain level. Depending on your organization, that level might be $500, $1,000, or $5,000.

Make sure that you get Donor e-mail addresses so you can send them follow-up thank you's. If you want to contact them with an e-newsletter, electronic appeals, or other communications, you need to include an opt-in on your donation form.

Don't skimp on your payment processing provider. Protecting people's financial information is a grave responsibility, and you owe it to your donors to make sure that you are using a reputable company that takes necessary precautions against fraud. If someone links a fraud case to your site, it could lead to a lawsuit and a whole lot of headaches.

Act now!

The donate button should be the primary call to action button on your website. Doing it will transform your website from a simple communications platform into a revenue generator for your organization.

Looking for more articles on offertory collections? Try these:

Check out The Fundraiser's Playbook for a full list of fundraising articles.

Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com, via Creative Commons License, no rights reserved.

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