Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 Views: 2153

Get Ready to Maximize Year-end Donations

The giving season is just around the corner!

Now is the best time to optimize your online giving platform to maximize your year-end donations this year. Is your organization following these best practices, shared by Aplos, for a donor-friendly donation process? By Christy Qualle of Aplos

To Attract Year-end Online Donations, Start Planning Now

December is the season for giving, but nonprofits should prepare long before then to make sure they capitalize on donors looking to give back. Being the nonprofit of choice for year-end donations means making donating easy, boosting donor confidence, and making sure you are on their minds. Here are a few tips to make that happen.

Find the Best Online Donation Platform for Your Needs

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that 30% of online donations occur in December and 10% are made December 27-31! With online donations growing by double digits every year, this is the first place you should examine to ensure you are making it easy to donate.

Even if you love your current provider, see how you can improve it. Ask a few volunteers to go through your online donation process and give you an honest assessment about what they did and didn’t like. Then, try it yourself and make sure you offer each of these key features.

Important Features of a Nonprofit Online Donation Form

  • Brand your donation page – Generic forms don’t cut it for modern donors, so they may stop before donating if it doesn’t “feel” like your organization. This means making your donation page look as much as possible like your nonprofit’s brand or website with logo, color, URL, and consistent campaign image or headline.
  • Mobile-friendly  – Younger generations say they will give using their phone, so be sure to test it on your smartphone and make sure you can easily complete all fields.
  • Recurring donation option – Don’t miss this option that can turn a last-minute donation into a long-term donor.
  • Simplicity – Get rid of any field that is not essential to complete the donation. Nothing will scare off donors faster than asking for too much personal information or having unclear instructions.
  • Security – High-profile hacking has donors on edge, so your donation page needs to set them at ease with professional design and security measures.

Compare nonprofit online donation platforms

There are a growing number of donation platforms available, including ones that don’t break the bank. Aplos offers nonprofits a free, customizable, branded online donation pagewith just a 3% transaction fee. (Disclosure: I work at Aplos and we offer the online donation platform for no monthly fee because we believe in making it easy and affordable to accept donations online.) There are other platforms out there (Network for Good, Stay Classy, Razoo, Blackbaud, etc.).  These come with a range of specialized features, but also higher monthly fees or transaction rates. Grab a cup of coffee, check out the options, and find a good solution that fits the needs of your nonprofit.

Make Your Website Donor-friendly

Can a visitor to your website find donation information within two seconds of arriving? They should. On December 31st, potential donors are on a deadline, so if it is not easily found from your website homepage, they may give up and try another organization. Here is how to turn these visitors into donors:

  • Donate button – Make it large, brightly colored, and a different color than the rest of your website.
  • Above the fold – Donors should never need to scroll down to find out how to donate. A common location for a Donate button is in the top right corner of your website, so donors often look there if they don’t see it immediately.
  • Ratings and badges – Make sure you include your Great Nonprofits badge or other certifications on your page where you are sharing donation information to boost your donor’s confidence.
  • Emails and social media – In social media profiles and each campaign email, include a direct link to your donation page so your donor can donate at any time, from any medium.

…Now, be on their mind

If you wait until December 31st to remind your donors to give for a tax deduction, you already missed the boat. Plan a series of communications using a variety of messages throughout December, so when they are ready to give, you are already on their mind. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Thank your donors and supporters on Thanksgiving
  • Share opportunities to give or serve for #GivingTuesday
  • Share a particularly engaging or emotional story
  • Recap your success and thank them for making it possible
  • Encourage them to give a donation on behalf of someone as a holiday gift
  • Talk about hopes and challenges for the next year and ask current donors to make an additional gift
  • Remind donors about the value of tax deductions if they give before December 31st

Bringing in year-end donations can be simple, but it means planning ahead and starting with a strong foundation. If you are looking at more ways to improve your fundraising, check out the free lessons at Aplos Academy.