Online giving has been here for over 15 years. Crazy, right?!

Dunham+Company reports that 42% of U.S. churches have online giving. Seemingly low being that churches have had 15 years to get on the “online fundraising” bandwagon, but when you take into account the fact that there are over three hundred and twenty thousand churches in the U.S., the number seems reasonable. 42% of 320k = ~135,000 churches with online giving.

For those that allow members to give through the church website, they’re likely seeing growth in this area as the latest figures from the Blackbaud Charitable Giving Index show that online giving continues to grow at approximately 7% year over year.

I’m sure there are likely many reasons for the shift to online giving – comfortability with computers and smartphones increased confidence in security protocols and less paranoia about identity theft, more millennials giving through mobile technology, etc.

So …  at this stage, the question is less about if you’re doing online giving at your church and more about how effective your church online giving program is, right?!

Before we go any further, let me ask you this. How much more online giving revenue would you have if you could increase your online donation form conversion rate by 2%?


Let’s do a bit of math …

If you get 100 visits to your giving form and 1% convert into donors, you’ll have 1 online donor. Meh.

If you get 100 visits and 3% of them convert into donors, you’ll have 3 donors. That’s a 200% improvement!

Imagine if you had 5,000 visits to your church giving form and 3% converted into givers. That’s 150 donations! If your average gift size is $100, then you’d have raised $15,000 online vs. if you had the same amount of traffic and only converted 1%. That would only yield 50 donations for $5,000. You see the point here? Focusing on your church donation form conversion rate can make a HUGE difference.

It’s with that in mind that we present 11 online giving form optimization tips that you can implement fairly quickly. Have a look and let us know what you think in the comments below.


1) Make your donation form simple to find

This one may sound obvious, but the easiest way to optimize your online giving form is to make it easily findable! Take a look at your church homepage. Can you spot the give button/link easily?

You don’t have to be obnoxious or “in-your-face” with it, but you should make it super simple to find. Take First Baptist Church in Woodville, TX. They’ve got a very clean website and don’t overdo it with the “GIVE” button, but you can certainly spot it in the navigation.



2) Keep donors on your website!

If one of your church members is on your website and clicks on a GIVE button, then is taken away to a third-party website to complete the gift, you stand a higher chance of donation form drop-off. Meaning, when people are taken to that third party page, for a split second, they wonder what just happened and can I trust where I’ve been taken.

That momentary question or hint of doubt placed in the mind of a possible giver about to transact online leads to some percentage of people deciding not go give.

The point here is that people want to know they’re on a secure site when giving a gift and sharing credit card information. Sending supporters away from your site is likely to raise questions and leave supporters wondering if they should rethink giving to your organization online, or at all.

The point, keep them on YOUR church website vs. sending them away.

Check out Planetshakers church in Australia. Once a person clicks on the GIVE button from their website, a simple overlay church giving form shows up right on their website allowing someone to give and never leave the main site.


3) Put your church brand on your donation form

Your church probably spent a fair bit of time creating a nice website with a clear brand and public-facing presence. That brand and communication style should be consistent all the way to the donation form experience so that your givers feel confident at the moment where they pull out their credit, debit, or bank account information to give.

Maintaining trust and confidence by keeping people on your website and branding your giving form increases the likelihood that a person visiting your donation form will complete a transaction. In fact, studies have shown that

To drive the point home, consider this fact. Potential donors are 41% more likely to leave without completing their donation on an unbranded donation form according to Blackbaud!

Imagine if you converted 41% more people into givers just by being able to brand your church online donation form!

Check out Vantage Church in Toronto, ON. They’ve added their core logo and brand colors to keep their online communication and messaging on point all the way through the transaction.


4) Keep it to one step.

In a report by Dunham+Company they showed that 65% of nonprofit websites require people to click three or more times to give a donation (see graph). How many clicks does it take on your church website? 1, 2, 3, 5 … more?

The main point here is that single step (aka one page) donation forms perform much better. Requiring your donors to take multiple steps in order to give to your organization can cause significant donation drop-offs.

Don’t make it hard for people to give.


5) Don’t make people tell you their life story–limit the number of fields.

People are in a hurry, live in a 140 character world, and don’t want things to be a hassle.

In a still highly relevant case study by Optimizely in 2013, removing the title and phone number fields from a donation form resulted in an increase of 11% in average donations per pageview for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Only collect what you need on your donation form!

It’s obvious, people don’t like to share any more that what is minimally required to complete the transaction. Make sure you’re being sensitive to this by limiting your church online giving form to only the fields you truly MUST have.


6) Make sure your donation form is mobile optimized.

Over 80% of landing pages are not optimized for mobile! Yet, according to Blackbaud, in one short year, mobile giving increased 45% from the 2014 giving season to the 2015 season. What?


With the increasing use of mobile devices and the increase in mobile giving, your church needs to ensure that donations can be made on the go.

If your online giving form isn’t mobile responsive, you’re missing the boat.


7) Make recurring giving a prominent feature.

A financial gift is a blessing, one that every church is grateful for.

That said, a one-time gift, even a big one, ends there. But a monthly recurring gift, even if for a smaller original amount, is so much better!

Why? Because monthly recurring giving means a long-term commitment.  Being able to plan on that type of giving from a large group enables your to create an operating budget that’s more predictable, plan better, and increase financial consistently for your church.


Make sure you make it simple for your new donors to turn their gift into a monthly recurring donation!


8) Give donors the ability to cover the fees.

One of the biggest reasons churches struggle with introducing online giving is because there are fees associated while taking cash and check donations via the offering plate are “free”. But, well all know “free” is a myth because people are counting the money, creating reports, depositing the funds, and making sure the books are balanced. All of that takes work and has an associated resource cost to consider.

One of the ways you can help offset the actual cost of online giving is by allowing your donors to “cover the fees”. Check out the image below. See the little switch to “Cover card processing fees”? We’ve seen that over 25% of people will take advantage of this feature!


9) Send a custom email confirmation.

Someone just opened their pocketbook to give out of faithfulness and gratitude which presents an incredible opportunity for you to connect with that person.

This is the emotional high point for the donor, yet most churches do very little to give donors that warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of the donation process. In fact, nearly two-thirds of organizations surveyed by Dunham+Company did not have any type of next step for a donor to take!

Make sure you’re thinking strategically and fully utilizing the confirmation email a faithful giver receives immediately after they give. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Say thank you.
  2. Let them know how their donation will be used.
  3. Invite them to take the next step with your church.
  4. Share information about volunteer opportunities.
  5. Ask them to share with their friends on social media why they supported your organization.

There you have it. 9 ways you can optimize your church online giving form to increase its performance and grow giving revenue. Let us know if you have any questions or additional optimizations you’ve implemented on your church website.