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How to write a great donation page headline

When it comes to retail stores, getting the customer in the door is not enough to sell product. You still need to have great signage and customer service to sway the customer into making a purchase. This same principle applies to online donation pages.

Many times potential donors will visit your donation page to check it out; they might even hover the mouse over the “donate now” button, but end up leaving the page. How can you increase your online fundraising conversion rate?

It comes down to quality content and great page layouts, starting with your headline.

The key to a great donation page headline

Since founding 4aGoodCause in 1998, I have seen my fair share of donation pages—both good and bad. After building hundreds of nonprofit websites, there are certain donation page elements I have found that prove successful in driving the most donations, starting with the headline.

As soon as prospects land on your donation page, they should understand who you are, what you do and what you’re asking for. Your donation page headline should be short, compelling and sweet. Easy, right?

Malaria No More’s homepage is a textbook example of good headline use. They use just a few words, but make them big, bold and hard to ignore. These headlines also create urgency. They grab the audience’s attention by making them realize this is not a page to bookmark and look at later; as their page says “every minute a child dies.” That is something that makes people stay and give. Click Donate Now and you’ll see their donation page’s headline answers that urgent call by asking donors to “Help end malaria deaths”.

When you think about your nonprofits’ donation page headlines, ask yourself the following:

  • Does it appeal to emotion?
  • Does it drive a sense of urgency?
  • Is it short and to the point?
  • Can you provide an interesting adjective? (words such as incredible, essential, absolute, crucial, etc.)

Once your headline has been established to draw in your constituents, concentrate on the rest of the elements of your donation page in order to keep them there and, ultimately, donate. Think about the following 5 elements to support your headline:

1. Powerful visuals

The first thing people notice when they visit a webpage is the visuals. On your donation page, less is more. Find one powerful image, of your own or a (not-so-cheesy) stock photo, to have on the page. Use that picture to capture and communicate who you are and what you do. To drive emotion.

2. Clean donation page

If you haven’t noticed yet, less is more is the key lesson of this blog post. If you looked at Malaria No More’s homepage mentioned above, you probably noticed it was busy; there are a lot of moving elements and pictures, but now take a look at their donation page. It is still well branded and has powerfully written content, but it is the opposite of busy. It is clean and uses white space to lead the eye to what is important. Branding is key – branded donation pages garner 6 times the amount of donations over generic donation pages. Make it clean. Make it match. Make it effective.

3. Emotional content

You don’t want to write a lot on your donation page because you don’t want your potential donors to get distracted, but what you do write needs to tug at the heartstrings. It needs to show people that you are working hard and making a difference in two paragraphs or less. Our client, Kate’s Club, does a great job of making people feel a lot toward their cause in only a few words.

4. One call-to-action

Speaking of few words, your donation page should have a single call-to-action. Create a “support us” section on your website so you can have one page for donations and one page for volunteers—you don’t want to overwhelm donors with options. When they get to your donation page all you want them to see is “donate now” not “donate or volunteer now.”

5. Make it responsive

Online giving has increased 13% from 2013 to 2014 with website traffic for nonprofits up 11% according to the M+R 2015 Benchmark Study. Add that to the increase in mobile giving and it’s imperative that your donation pages are built for donors who are on the go. Your prospects are checking you out via their smartphones, tablets and desktops. Be sure to have a responsive donation page (and website) that makes it easy for them to donate using any device at any time.

What makes a great donation page is going beyond the generic. Your organization does so many great things, so why just say, “help us make a difference”? Share in a sentence or two how their donations make that difference. Use the tips above to make your page clean and simple and you will see positive results.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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