Basics for Building a Persuasive Fundraising Website

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In 2014, all segments of the nonprofit industry saw increases in their online fundraising. Online fundraising is immensely important for small, medium, and large organizations alike, which means having a website that encourages and facilitates online donations is a must for all nonprofits. But how can you build a website that will persuade people to donate to you without coming off as heavy-handed? These tips can help get you started.

1. Focus on what the donor will achieve

It’s so tempting to try to persuade donors to give to you. Technically, you are trying to get donors to give to you, but in an indirect way. Donors don’t want to support a nonprofit organization. Donors want to support the mission that the nonprofit supports. That’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one.

The copy on a persuasive fundraising website doesn’t ask for donors to give to an organization — it shows donors how they will change the world if they make a gift. Supporting a mission means much more to donors than supporting a nonprofit — make sure they feel the difference.

2. Pick a great call to action — and then stick with it

Do your viewers know you want them to donate to you? Your answer is probably “yes, of course!” But do they really? Look at your website. Do you tell your visitors to donate to you? Do you tell them their support is important? Do you tell a story that compels them to give to you? Or do your readers feel like you’re telling them about yourself and not really asking for help? Including calls to action — specific questions, commands, or statements that you want your readers to address — is so important. People won’t be inclined to donate if you don’t tell them to donate.

People love consistency, especially if you’re asking them to do something for you. If you’re including a call to action on a specific page within your website, don’t use a different call to action in the same space. Using the same phrase across all pages to call viewers to act is useful, too, and is more effective than using several different phrases or commands to try to get readers to donate. Whether you decide to go simple (“Donate Now!”) or to get more creative (“Join the Movement!”), pick one compelling call to action and use it consistently.

3. Ask for a small commitment up front

Salesmen will tell you that the secret to making a sale is to get the buyer to say yes to lots of smaller actions before they say yes to the big purchase. You can apply the same concept to fundraising! If you ask a donor to commit to something small in the donation process, they will usually commit to making a gift.

One way to do this is to set up your donation form so the donation amount fields appear before the payment information fields. When a donor selects a $50 donation amount, they’ve already committed to making a gift. Entering their payment information becomes a part of the donation process. Alternatively, asking for the donor’s payment information first turns the process into a chore to complete before they can make their gift.

4. Show donors your appreciation

You can cultivate an attitude of appreciation outside of your receipt page and thank-you letters — and you should! Take a look at your website and see how many times you mention your donors and the sacrifices they’ve made for your organization. You don’t have to come right out and write a specific “Thank you to our donors!” blog entry (although that is an excellent idea) — you can include nods to your supporters in other parts of your website, too. Using simple phrases like “Thanks to our donors” in summaries of events, campaigns, or organization descriptions is an effective way to remind people that you rely on others’ support to run your programs. You can also include elements like photos of volunteers and testimonials or stories from your donors.

Creating a tone of gratitude to donors does two things for potential supporters that visit your website. One, it lets them know that your organization has a great relationship with the people who support you, which is appealing when they’re trying to decide if they want to donate. Two, it creates a sense of a community that comes together to solve an issue, and the desire to be a part of something bigger than one’s self is a powerful urge. If your potential donors can look at your website and see a thriving community based on support and gratitude that is trying to change the world, they’ll get excited about supporting your organization!

Want to learn more about building an awesome fundraising website? Check out this recent article on how to build a powerful fundraising website.

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