I thought it might be time for another quick primer on how to write effective copy for your donation page- it’s a delicate art and requires really putting yourself in your donor’s shoes and telling them what they find most essential, not always what you most want to say. Below are seven essential tips for improving content on your donation page and some examples of our clients, who- often through a process of trial and error- are really getting it right!
1.) Be Brief
Whatever you have written, remove half. Sometimes, explanatory text is necessary to illustrate a complicated membership program or otherwise integral to the donors understanding of the form- by sometimes, I mean very rarely. Remember that by the time your donor has landed on your donation page, they’re already sold on your mission- they just need a brief reinforcement of why their contribution matters. The type of text I like to see on donations pages is exemplified by the Sightline Institute, in Seattle. Sightline does a lot of work and has a fairly in-depth mission- they save this all for their excellent ‘About Us’ page, which gives a thorough breakdown of what they’re up to and why. The donation page has two strong, carefully written sentences that encapsulate their efforts and a thank you- this is really all you need on your donation page: remind your donors why you’re awesome and thank them for helping out! Any more than that can bog down a donation page with too much content- your page isn’t where you’re going to make your sale, it’s where you’re going to reinforce why the donor is making a good decision by contributing. Give them a well-written reminder and let them get down to business!
2.) Additional Text/ Tagline Content
If you have supportive text content on your page (hopefully in place of full navigation, since you don’t want to give donors many options for leaving the page, once they’ve arrived ), make sure it’s unobtrusive and truly emphasizes why your donor should continue their forward momentum through your site and complete their donation. Adding a graphical tagline to the sidebar or in place of navigation is can be very effective- it makes the donor feel that they’re still engaged with a fully functioning page of the website but doesn’t give them too many avenues for backing out or getting distracted. Scout’s Honor in Houston, is one of my favorite examples of a well-placed and designed tagline: the basset hound and their tagline add visual interest to the page without drawing focus from the donors job, which is to complete their donation to your organization.
3.) Add a Testimonial
A testimonial from a person your organization serves or from another donor about why they choose to financially back you can be a very effective tool in assuring donors that they’re making a great choice by giving their hard-earned bucks to you. A testimonial can put a human face on your work and make understandable the most complicated of missions- hearing (briefly) about the experience a real person has had with your organization gives a great level of support and ‘backup’ to the donor completing the donation process. Put your testimonial in a distinctly ‘supportive’ area, like a sidebar or a header graphic, not within the actual payment form, where it can side-track donors or make the page seem at first glance very complicated.
Two of our clients that do this very well are Meals on Wheels and Circle Boston- both testimonials are relevant, formatted well and actually contribute to donor understanding of what their money will do. In Circle Boston’s case, their testimonial is two-fold effective- their member mentions both why the organization is important for the community and mentions a specific event that exemplifies their mission and values.
4.) Pair Your Text With Strong Graphics
I think that if you have a strong image focus on your site, it’s best to keep your donation pages as simple as possible, to showcase your elegant, vivid design. Two organizations that are totally rocking simple donation pages that heavily rely on design are A Home Within and GAIN- both these organizations combine their well-written text with strategic graphic headers that further support and confirm the essential nature of their missions. Both pages are supremely usable, attractive, strategically written and designed for donor ease- the graphical text in the header image really leaves a lasting impression. If you have a strong website, let it shine on your donation page- don’t clutter up the design with too much text or superfluous other graphics.
5.) Proof Thoroughly
Yes, this is a total no-brainer, but I’m not shocked when I see an error in the copy on a donation page; they’re surprisingly common. Be sure your copy has been edited thoroughly for little errors, as these can be . . . less than confidence inspiring and distracting to your donors. No ‘their’ when you mean ‘there’ or anything like that- be sure you get more than one pair of eyes on your page copy before you add it. We are all guilty of rushing projects out the door just to get them off our desks- be sure you don’t phone in your donation page copy, because it does matter!
6.) Be Specific
Make your text really count- if you have affecting stats, deploying them usefully on your donation page can boost your average donation amount and inspire donors to pass along that type of quotable info to their friends. Donors don’t need a huge breakdown of all the ways you’re positively affecting your community or target issue, but if you have a few statistics that specifically illustrate how your organization contributes to your chosen cause, don’t be afraid to boldly plaster them across the top of your page. Chimp Haven is an organization that actually benefits from a bit more text and navigation- they use really specific language describing what different levels of giving will accomplish for the chimps living at their sanctuary in Louisiana (which, as you may remember, I’m very fond of). The visible navigation to other donation pages on their site- one for materials donation (the chimps need toys!) and one where donors can sponsor an individual chimpanzee- actually acts as a nice funnel that can keep the donor engaged while they’re completing the process, but not draw focus in a negative way.
7.) Make It Quotable
Think of the text on your donation page as the last chance to make a major impression on your donors. You want your donors to not only be long term supporters of your organization, but also to tell their friends! Keep your content fun and repeatable and they’ll remember to share the news through social media or otherwise pass it along.
Happy writing, happy fundraising . . .