Top 10 Things Donors Want From Your Web Site

Year-end is coming!  And we know for a fact that online gifts will spike up in December. 

Is your web site ready to handle all this attention?

Well, get ready!

Most donors check out your web site before they make a gift.

 And they do this whether they are giving online or through the mail.

My very smart Fundraising INSIDERS  subscribers are tackling the brave new world of internet fundraising this month. We’re learning how to create pitch-perfect appeals online with some of our sector’s online fundraising masters. 

The amazing CEO of Achieve Consulting, Derrick Feldman, shared tons of tips this week on how to make websites welcoming and user friendly. It’s not too late to join us to learn how to design perfect email appeals and fundraising campaigns. You really need these skills! 

 Your web site needs to tell a happy story about your cause.

It needs to welcome your donors and visitors.

It needs to have the information that donors are looking for:

1. Easy navigation.

When someone comes to your site, can they find out what they want easily?

Don’t make your donor have to think.

Make everything clear, plain and easy to read and understand.

Use a startling headline or a vivid image to engage your donor quickly.

If your navigation is confusing, you’ll probably lose your donor.

2. Lots of pictures and fewer words.

Terrific photos tell your story visually.  And on your web site, images are more compelling than words.

Your donors are skimming, skimming – quickly, quickly.

Lots of words, cumbersome phrasing, crowded text will drive them away quickly.

Verbosity can kill you on a web site. Let great pictures do the talking.

3.  Links to your Guidestar and Charity Navigator profiles.

I don’t  like this any more than you do, especially Charity Nav. But here’s the reality:

Donors today want to check out your overhead costs. They are obsessing over admin costs.

Yes, it’s crazy. (How can you run a nonprofit without admin costs? – just don’t get me started on this!)

See my post: “How to Talk To Your Donors About Overhead Costs.”

Make it easy for donors to find this information. You will build trust.


Since donors are more mistrustful of institutions and organizations these days, try to convey credibility by sharing:

  • measurable numbers about your impact: how many people did you serve? and how much did it cost you to do it?
  • your track record – successes
  • endorsements
  • your board members names (who’s standing behind this organization? who’s accountable?)
  • testimonials

5. A clear call to action.

Donors are in a hurry.

If they come to visit, by all means, TELL THEM WHAT YOU NEED THEM TO DO!

You should have a call to action in everything you do, everything you send out, and on every web page.

6. An easy way to donate.

Don’t make your donor work to find out how to give. Don’t make them hunt.

Put the DONATE NOW button clearly where they can find it.

Show them the easy way.

Or you may lose them.

7. A simple donation form.

I hear horror stories of how many donors ABANDON nonprofit donation pages.  I’ve heard figures as high as 96% of people who visit the page, will never complete the form.

Just think how many times you’ve loaded up a shopping cart in an online store – and never completed the checkout process.

Consider this: every box your donor has to fill in increases her impatience with the process.

And if she gets to the point of frustration, you’ve probably lost her.

See my rant last week on donation pages: “How to Drive Your Online Donors Away.”

8. A page titled “Your Gifts At Work.”

Donors have changed. They are much more focused on the impact of their gifts.

They want to know exactly where their money is going and how it’s being used.

Lay it out clearly for them in pie charts: where your money comes from and where it goes.

I talk about this alot, and it’s because I keep hearing from donors about it alot.

This is what transparency really means: sharing the details of how much money you are raising and what you do with it.

9. Interaction.

Offer a chance for doors to have a dialog with you. Perhaps a survey to answer.  Can they post a comment?

Donors want the ability to comment, to discuss, to learn more about you.

Get your web site visitors involved: Ask them to volunteer or take some action.

Always ask for more than money.

Treat people like real people, not like they are wallets.

10. Physical address and phone.

I wish I had a penny for every time I had to hunt, hunt, hunt for a darned phone number or a street address.

What’s with it when a nonprofit doesn’t include this essential info?

Give your donor easy access to you.  Be welcoming.

And your donor may reward you with a gift, and another gift!

Was this list helpful? Leave a comment and say why or why not!

  • Howard Shareff

    Thank you, Gail, for this helpful list. We are planning for a new web site lay out and this list is essential for our design. And adjusting the one we already have.

  • kim

    Fantastic. I am going to make some changes to our site, that’s for sure!

  • gailperry

    Howard, definitely take the donor’s perspective when you are planning your new website! good luck!

  • Dave McMahon

    Excellent point! Very Helpful! Thanks!

  • gailperry

    thanks Kim, glad it was helpful!

  • Meera

    Thanks for this, Gail! We are in the process of redesigning our website, and this information is exactly what we are looking for! I’ve also found that donors are unhappy with having to sit through a long intro video/animation (applicable for most sites anyway)!