Online Donation Platforms: How to Find the Best Fit For Your Nonprofit

August 31, 2022

4 mins

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you’re always looking for ways to increase donations and bring in more revenue. One great way to do this is through online donation platforms. But with all the options for giving online, which is right for you?

While major donors often prefer to write a check, digital donations are on the rise. This Blackbaud report on online giving trends demonstrates that people are looking for charitable organizations they can support with minimal hassle—which is why an increasing number of nonprofits use online donation platforms.

These realities beg the question: how well does your website handle online giving?

If you’re looking for online giving best practices or want to make changes to your online donation platform, this post is for you. Below we explain:

  • How to choose the best online donation platform
  • What donors are looking for when they give online
  • The benefits of building a custom solution
  • Thoughts on off-the-shelf third-party integrations

There are a number of fundraising platforms for nonprofits that can help to streamline your process. But before you choose a strategy, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the functions and limitations of your chosen service. Read on for guidance on using an online giving platform.

How to Choose the Best Online Donation Platform

Choosing the best way to collect donations online is crucial for nonprofits. The right platform will be easy for donors to use and provide you with the tools necessary to manage donations effectively. Here are a few questions you need to answer before choosing a donation platform:

  1. Do you want to offer recurring donations? This can be a great way to encourage continued support from donors. However, not all platforms offer this option. If recurring or monthly donations are important to your nonprofit, be sure to choose a platform that supports them.
  2. Do you need additional functionality? Some online donation platforms offer additional fundraising tools like event management and volunteer coordination. If you can benefit from these features, make sure the platform you choose offers them.
  3. What are the fees associated with the platform? Some platforms charge a percentage of each donation, while others have a flat monthly fee. Make sure to compare the fees associated with each platform before making your final decision. We suggest focusing on solutions that offer fees per transaction.

While there may be some benefits to using an off-the-shelf online giving solution, there could be limitations you haven’t considered. Before moving forward, be sure to evaluate what matters most to your organization and to your donor base.

Read More: Is Your Nonprofit Website Helping You Grow? If Not, Here’s How We Can Help!

What Donors Look for in a Nonprofit Online Giving Solution

You know what you want in your online donation platform, but don’t forget to consider your donor’s preferences. The actual process of giving an online donation should be easy for donors to navigate, designed in a way that instills confidence, and ensures a secure transaction. If the steps are clear and the form is easy to find, donors are more likely to give online.

Donors are looking for a seamless experience. Aim to keep them on your website when completing a transaction instead of sending them to a third-party platform like PayPal. Keeping the donor on your site in a branded environment improves their confidence in giving on your site (and your brand). Otherwise, you may confuse your donor and lose the gift.

Read More: Brand Identity 101: The Ultimate Guide to a Fresh New Look 

Donors like options. If you limit their abilities, they could become frustrated and leave your website. For example, giving donors options is helpful when they are undecided on an amount, and offering a suggested amount is more likely to produce a gift. Offer donors as many payment options as possible, but focus on credit cards as the prime choice (credit cards, ACH transfers, Apple Pay, etc).

Disadvantages of Third-Party Online Donation Platforms

Plug-and-play options for online giving rarely meet all of our client’s needs. It may seem quick and easy, but you often end up compromising on features that are important to you (or your donor base).

Other potential limitations could include:

  • Inability to customize donation amounts
  • No option for recurring donations
  • No options for ACH or mobile payment alternatives like Apple Pay
  • Limited (or no) ability to add your nonprofit branding to the third-party platform

For these reasons, we recommend nonprofits build a custom online giving solution using Stripe as the payment processor. Stripe has a robust platform that is able to handle one-time and recurring gifts with ease. Furthermore, the setup process is both simple and secure.

While third-party systems usually handle most online giving scenarios, they are clearly limited in their capabilities. Our nonprofit clients often choose to develop a custom giving or donation form explicitly aligned with their unique needs and priorities. A custom build also allows us to integrate the giving tool with the nonprofit’s customer relationship management (CRM) software when possible.

Read More: Find the Best Website Design Company in 5 Easy Steps (Hint: Write an RFP)

Customized Online Giving Solutions for Your Nonprofit

If you’re looking for a customized online giving solution that provides your donors with the best experience possible, we at Cross & Crown are here to help. We will work with you hand in hand to create the features and tools you need to make it easy for your donors to give and help you raise more money. Schedule a meeting with our team today so we can discuss which of our services would be the best fit for your nonprofit. We look forward to hearing from you!

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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