4 Reasons You’re Losing Potential Donors

by Emily Snoek

Behavioral Scientist


Once you have a donation page up and running, it’s easy to let it gather cobwebs in a corner. Far sexier topics like optimizing year-end email marketing or planning your next big fundraising event often seem more pressing.

But your donation page is where people become donors, and it deserves your attention. Your donation page can be what gets someone across the finish line to becoming a donor, but it must be hassle-free and behaviorally optimized.

This post will cover 4 of the most common reasons nonprofits lose potential donors on their donation pages.

1. Pre-filling fields.

Typically, forms tell you the information they want from you in one of three ways. They either place a label above each field, next to each field, or they prefill the field with the label. This third option (see photo) can actually cause people to overlook what you’re asking them for.

If someone overlooks a field, they will submit a form they think is complete. But instead of the donation successfully going through they will see a wall of red error text (an unpleasant experience!), and they might decide making this donation is not worth the hassle and their time.

Instead of pre-filling fields to tell donors what you’re looking for, place a label above each field. You want the label above each field instead of next to it to make the experience easier for mobile users.

2. Making your donation page a mobile user’s nightmare.

Design your donation page (and your entire website really) with a mobile-first mentality. Design your donation form for mobile users first, and then make sure the form works well for desktop and tablet users as well.

If someone clicks through to your website, because they received an email from you, saw a tweet, or were sent a link by a friend, the last thing you want them to think is: “Ugh, I can’t even read this website on my phone. I’ll just look at it later when I’m at my computer.” If they think that and click away, 9 times out of 10 they are not coming back!

Having a mobile-friendly website is a MUST in today’s day and age! Make sure your website and your donation page are easy to read and use on different types of smartphones. This is an easy way to limit donation page abandonment.

3. Requiring fields you don’t need to require.

Maybe everyone already knows this but it’s worth repeating. Only require the fields you need and will use. These should include things like name, email address, and zip code; make phone number optional. Don’t waste anyone’s time!

4. Making it feel insecure or unsafe.

Make your donation page feel secure–and make it actually secure! People are parting with their money online. They don’t want to feel like they’re sending their credit card information into the hands of hackers.

First things first, make your donation page PCI compliant and secure. But next up is to indicate to the donor that your donation page is secure. A clean, modern look definitely helps users (particularly younger users) feel more comfortable with giving you their information.

Locks are good symbols to use to indicate security to your donors. See this study from NextAfter for a great example (depicted below).

You can limit donor loss and donation page abandonment by focusing on these four areas!

Your action items to accomplish this are:

  1. Move field labels to above the field.
  2. Investigate if your donation page is mobile-friendly, and update it with a mobile-first perspective if necessary.
  3. Double check you’re only requiring fields you need and use.
  4. Make sure your donation page is secure, and add a visual symbol of its security.

Track your results and let us know if you see a decrease in donation page abandonment because of these tweaks! You may have the opportunity to be featured in a future blog post. And check out Creative Science’s portfolio here.


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