Websites provide a great opportunity to connect with your parishioners or supporters. Besides providing information about your programs and ministries, it can offer them an opportunity to make a donation. The ‘Donate Button’ is one powerful way to do so.
Your donate button should be prominently displayed on the site, near the top of the page. The color should be jump out at your audience, but fit in with the overall color scheme of your site. 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. Something that creates a connection between the gift and what it will accomplish usually works best.
When the person clicks on the donate button, this will lead you to the Donate Page. Here, as in all fundraising, confusion is the enemy of action. Make your donate page as simple as possible to use.
Some donate page “do’s”
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.
Again, thanking people is incredibly important. You should be able to set up automatic thank you emails / receipts for all web-based donations. I 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. And make sure that you get their e-mail addresses so you can send them follow-up communications and electronic appeals.
Include an appealing image that connects with the donation being made.
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.
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.