10 Simple Ways to Encourage Donations On Your Charity Website

— 8 min 45 secs —

How do you design a charity website experience that drives healthy donations? The keyword lies within that very first sentence; it’s all about the experience.

As with any website and any conversion goal, a charity website needs to create a positive user journey for donors if it’s going to successfully encourage any generous giving. And, to create this positive journey, websites need to consider everything from people’s emotions and human psychology to visual conversion cues and even SEO.

Setting up or redesigning your charity website? Here are 10 top tips to improve your site and help convert visitors into loyal donors:

1. Consider your SEO

There’s little use in having a spectacular donations website if none of your potential donors can find it. This is where SEO becomes an essential consideration when optimising your website for easy donations, as it helps your charity website rank higher and more prominently in search engine results pages. Have a think about the types of search queries (beyond your brand or charity name) you want your site to rank for, then ensure your site is sufficiently filled with content and information that both includes and answers those queries.

For example, if you’re running a charity to help fund treatment or research for a certain type of illness, make sure your website hosts genuinely useful information that includes key search terms such as ‘what is (illness)?’ and ‘how can I help people with (illness)’. It doesn’t all have to be about pushing donations at this stage; it’s more about helping people find you.

2. Map your Donor Journey

Once your potential donors reach your site, they need to be able to get from the landing page to the donation page easily and in as few clicks as possible. This is where the journey mapping stage comes in handy. Start by thinking about what information your visitors might be looking for when they land on your website, how you can feed them that information and how you can build the donation element into their journey.

For example, if a user lands on your homepage you should have a clear information page ready and waiting to help them find out more about what you do. The next step is to make it clear how much their help could ensure you achieve your goals as a charity, followed by an easy-to-find call to action to help them make a donation.

And don’t forget the post-donation journey. Once they have donated, it couldn’t hurt to say thank you. Perhaps you could also direct them to a new page of information, or encourage them to share your campaign on social media. It’s all good stuff and it keeps people coming back.

3. Tell a Compelling Story

There’s always a story behind every charitable cause. The key is to tell it in such a compelling and engaging way that people listen, form an understanding of your cause and come away from the experience wanting to help. Your story can be in the form of a classic prose (keep it relatively short and broken up into readable chunks), or it can be in the form of a short video or even a series of images.

WWF does an excellent job of storytelling with the help of this highly effective and informative video on its homepage, which illustrates the problems the charity is trying to tackle.

Image from: www.wwf.org.uk

However you present your charity’s story, try to create a clear narrative that vividly brings your story to life. Whether it’s a video diary from your beneficiaries, a history of your charity’s inception or an infographic showing the various elements of your charity’s activities, a good story will evoke emotions and create lasting impact among its audience. All of this can ultimately lead to a steady stream of well-informed, well-deserved donations.

4. Create Prominent Donation Buttons

Depending on the type of website you’re running, it’s not always a given that your visitors will come to your site with the express intention of donating. You therefore need to make your donation buttons as prominent as possible to make it clear that you take and welcome donations. Having your donation links positioned as prominently as possible also makes the user journey from your landing page to making a donation incredibly quick and easy.

This means that any visitors who have visited your website with the intention of donating will have fewer barriers in their way, while any casual visitors are more likely to make a donation due to the sheer ease and speed of the process. Either way, your donors are less likely to give up halfway through the process.

Image from: www.redcross.org.uk

To make sure your donation buttons are as noticeable as possible, you’ll want to include them in prominent places throughout your website such as your main website header, your footer, your navigation menu and on any other relevant pages such as story pages and information pages.

You should also make sure they are easily accessible both on mobile and desktop versions of your site, and they should be designed to visually contrast against their background to draw the eye and those all-important clicks. Keep your button copy simple and direct, ‘Donate’ is clear and self-explanatory enough, so don’t be tempted to go for anything long-winded or fancy as you could end up confusing your users.

5. Be Specific About Where Donations Go

One of the biggest barriers preventing charitable donations is not knowing precisely where or how the money will be spent, invested or distributed. And, when a charity doesn’t volunteer this information, it can lead to a lack of trust among potential donors.


Image from: www.ymca.org.uk

To break down this lack of trust barrier it is important for a charitable website to be entirely upfront and explicit about how donations will be used. You can do this at multiple points across your site, including via your storytelling method from Tip 3, or by setting up a specific ‘Where Does My Donation Go?’ page or FAQ section that directly answers this important question.

6. Use Real Imagery

Your imagery is what connects your potential donors with your beneficiaries and your cause. With this in mind, you should strive to use photography that has been professionally taken especially for your charity, wherever possible. Start-ups may, quite understandably, need to use stock imagery while getting off the ground, which is fine so long as it demonstrates clearly what you do and what you’re looking to achieve. However, once budgets allow, commissioning a professional photographer to take real photos of beneficiaries or subjects can help bring your cause to life, making it feel much more real to your potential donors.

Image from: www.wateraid.org

If you take a look at any well-known charity website you will be greeted with high quality, impactful photography, instantly illustrating the cause as well as showing you the results and impact of donation projects. The more of an emotional connection and understanding you can create for your website’s visitors, the more likely they are to help.

7. Demonstrate Tangible Results

Just as donors will want to know precisely where their money will go before they donate, so will they want to see the real-life impact their money has had. To boost future donations, try creating prominent impact pages or promo blocks on your website with short, sharp facts and statistics that demonstrate the impact your projects have had. Seeing direct results is a powerful motivator and can help drive further donations from both new and returning donors, so make sure you place them front and centre.


Image from: www.savethechildren.org.uk

You should also make sure your results are as visually appealing as possible. Consider displaying them as graphs, videos, maps or striking images to catch the eye, but don’t let yourself get too carried away. Less is more; you want the results to speak for themselves at all times.

8. Offer Manageable Choices

Giving your potential donors too many choices can lead to what’s known as ‘choice paralysis’, which can ultimately lead to a temporary or permanent deferral of the choice. Aside from making the journey to the donation page as quick and easy as possible, the donation itself needs to be straightforward and free from difficult choices to prevent task abandonment.

“Don’t make people think” is one of the fundamental rules of good conversion optimisation, so keep your donation options as few and basic as possible. For example, if you’re offering a choice of pre-determined donation amounts, keep it to a maximum of 3-4 choices that progress in logical increments. Too many choices and your donors may become overwhelmed and quickly lose the enthusiasm for the donation.

Image from: www.ymca.org.uk

9. Use Visual Progress Trackers

There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re ‘almost there’ to generate an extra surge of motivation to reach a goal. This precise psychology is what makes visual progress trackers so effective when it comes to fundraising. If you’re running a fundraising campaign with a specific target, try including a simple visual progress tracker that clearly shows how much has been raised so far and how much further there is to go.

Image from: www.donorbox.org

When the bar is low it can trigger more donations from people who want to help get the project off the ground. There will often be a little dip in donation frequency toward the middle section, but once it gets past the halfway point there follows another surge in donations from people wanting to see the target met. This need for completion proves a highly effective driver for donations, otherwise known as the ‘endowed progress’ effect.

10. Test It

Whether you apply just one or all of the above methods for increasing donations, testing their effects is essential for success. The smallest little details, such as the colour of a button or the wording of a call to action, can make a huge difference to the number of clicks or the experience of a user. This is why A/B testing and constant site analytics is so important, as it can help you directly compare the effects of two different design features and spot problematic areas on your site. Without the testing stage you’re simply guessing, so don’t skip it.

Looking for help with designing or redesigning your charity or non-profit website? Our team of expert web designers knows a thing or two about designing effective user experiences that generate results, whether it be donations, enquiries, purchases or sign-ups. Tell us about your project on hello@designbyday.co.uk and we’ll help get your campaigns rolling.


Victoria Simpson