Giving Online

I keep reading how " online giving" is on the rise, as if all a nonprofit has to do to increase its fundraising is to put up a donation page on the web. But all the donate now buttons and donate here pages will be useless unless the organization has clear plans for driving people to those sites and engaging them in such a way that donating to the organization makes sense. The important point about online giving of course is to ensure that your donation page--once someone actually lands there--is inviting, easy to use, and--critically--asks for the right gifts.

A few months ago I wrote about making a birthday gift to a friend's favorite charity. I was going to give a dollar for every year of her life. But when I got to the page, the amount that showed in the gift space was $1. This made the $60 I was planning on feel terribly excessive and as a result, I donated far less. Be careful about the amounts you show--donors tend to take those as suggestions.

Learning what pushes your donors to give online also seems important. Having only one page where everyone lands, therefore, deprives you of important information. Think about how you can have landing pages that, like reply devices on mail appeals, match the ask.

If, for example, a board member is asking his or her contacts to join with him in making a recurring gift of $100 or more per month, you want those contacts to go to a page that easily allows them to join the board member in making such a gift. And, of course, offers other giving opportunities should the $100 a month not appeal.

A one-size fits all landing page may end up making all gifts the same, and your response to the gift inappropriate. A simple “Thank you for you gift,” may not resonate as strong as “thank you for joining our board member in making this wonderful gift.”

As online giving becomes old hat, there are more and more tools to help nonprofits get their gifts online. Make sure you are using one that meets your specific needs and helps your donors make the best online gifts they can.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits, helping them increase their fundraising capacity. Learn how she can help your organization at Don’t forget to sign up for the free newsletter and the free 30-minute consultation.