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Join the Race to Innovate Online By Amy Sewell

Maximize Your Online Fundraising Potential

Existing in the online space for a nonprofit can sometimes feel like you’re attempting to walk across a river using pool floaties as stepping stones. Nothing is stable, and you’re likely to fall.

The entrance of new social networks, payment platforms, privacy regulations, and browser changes can be challenging. But since online giving has increased by 42% over the last three years for most organizations, I’m sure you know this is not an area where you can afford to fall behind.

Innovation is the name of the game with the never-ending task of constantly monitoring what’s working, what isn’t, and what you could be testing to equip yourself better moving forward.

Invest in Your Donation Process

One of the best places you can invest in is your donation process: making sure your forms are easy to use—especially for mobile users—can directly impact the number of donations you receive through your website.

For most nonprofits, the primary donation form has a conversion rate of 17%. That means 83% of the people coming to your donation form decide to leave without contributing. But it is possible to improve this number! Some organizations we serve have a primary donation form conversion rate as high as 41%. Let’s run the numbers on this statistic . . . if your nonprofit receives 20,000 donations per year through that donation form and has an average gift of $100, this increase in your conversion rate alone would amount to over $480,000!

So where do you start? Here are the donation form adjustments we have seen make the most significant impact on the conversion rate:

Reduce Form Fields

One of our clients recently adjusted their form layout to only show billing information if someone requests it. This reduced the length of their donation form for most users by about half and resulted in a 61% increase in conversions.

Add Modern Payment Processors

PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet, and Apple Pay create a more straightforward donation process for mobile users. These users typically account for over half of web traffic and are more easily distracted. Adding these quick payment methods increases donations, and some organizations we work with now see as much as 21% of their online giving on PayPal and another 12% using Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Adjust Your Ask Levels 

We recently conducted a test with an organization, increasing the gift amounts on the buttons on their form. The adjustment helped increase their average gift by 103%. But, this test also reduced their overall conversion rate. We are continually testing to find a balance between these two elements.

Start Texting

In addition to your main donation form, there are some critical innovations related to how you drive donors to your documents. If your organization has the capacity, adding in a texting strategy, a new social platform or an advertising channel can reach new audiences and grow donations.

Expand Your Options

Right now, avoiding locking your organization into a single advertising channel is more critical than ever. In the fast-changing digital world, shifting your media from one place to another when you see a decline in results is essential. We saw this firsthand earlier this year when an organization’s Facebook audience targeting was affected dramatically by platform changes. We quickly pivoted and made sure they changed their media mix to incorporate more different advertising channels. Because of this adjustment, they still accomplished their goal of new donors.

Set Online Priorities

Deciding what to try first might feel overwhelming. Start by identifying areas your organization is behind it, according to fundraising benchmarks and metrics—compare your metrics to other similar organizations through reports like the M+R Benchmarks. Then balance things your donors are asking for (like PayPal or Venmo) with the cost (both in time and money) to implement. Prioritize those that are easiest but also have a high potential impact. Then as time and budget allow, you can expand to some of the more complicated technical innovations.

Whatever you do, keep pushing forward! The digital world around us continues to change, and your organization needs to innovate so you can stay in front of donors—engaging and inspiring them—and continue to be a critical part of what is right with the world.


Amy Sewell has worked in the digital space for 22 years and drives the strategy behind all the digital projects completed at Douglas Shaw & Associates. Amy has run social media programs reaching over 2 million followers regularly, creating solutions on these networks that expand the reach and make personal connections with supporters. Amy excels at driving results!

Register today for the Outcomes Conference Global Digital Experience and attend an outstanding training session with Amy Sewell, SVP of Digital Solutions, with Douglas Shaw and Associates! Here is what she is sharing during this event!

Emerging Trends in Digital Fundraising

In digital fundraising, there’s only one constant – change! Privacy regulations, platform changes, and emerging networks can leave you behind quickly. So how can your organization stay responsive, meet donors where they are, and continue to grow?


1) Discover weaknesses hurting your digital fundraising program and how minor adjustments can have a significant impact on results,

2) Evaluate available digital advertising networks to maximize return on investment and

3) Keep up with the latest trends so your organization stays agile.




What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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