Online donations are increasing every year … and yet they still have a huge potential for additional growth. In early 2016, Blackbaud released its Charitable Giving Report for 2015. Based on data it obtained from about 4,000 organizations, it estimates that online giving represents 7.1% of all giving, up from 6.7% in 2014. 

Just as online donations are increasing, so too has digital fundraising. A report by Charity Dynamics, The Next Ten Years in Digital Fundraising, predicts digital fundraising to grow to 20% or more of total fundraising within the next 10 years. These projections mean that now is the time to focus attention on how your organization can increase overall donations by improving your web presence. 

Supporters generally come to your website looking for either information, the opportunity to give, or both. Therefore, it’s essential to make their experience easy and simple — otherwise, they might leave and give their dollars to another worthy cause. A proven way to keep visitors engaged on your site is to feature worthwhile and relevant content on your homepage (or at least prominent links to such content), telling the story of how donations have a positive impact. 

Here are ten key recommendations for improving your website to increase online donations. 

1. Craft a simple and clear message for your faith-based organization. 
What does your organization do, and for whom? What makes your organization unique? What motivates people to give to your organization? The answers to these questions need to be on your homepage, and written in clear, engaging language. 

2. Create branding that is consistent and strong. 
Does your website reflect your brand, and is it carried through to all your donor touchpoints? Is your donation form designed to reflect your brand’s look and feel? It’s crucial to keep a consistent, focused message about the mission of your faith-based organization — so be sure not to confuse visitors with conflicting visuals or messaging. Donors need to feel confident that all collateral is coming from the same organization. If you are struggling with maintaining consistency in brand messaging, consider getting help from a capable freelancer or professional. 

3. Build a website that is easy and intuitive to navigate.
Is the navigation of your site simply a recitation of your organizational chart? Have you tested your site to see what users actually do when they come to your site? Update the site structure to support the viewpoint of the site visitor, rather than how your team views your organization internally. With navigation that works, the site visitor will be able to easily find what he or she is looking for. It’s also worth considering testing the website periodically for usability, and addressing any problems you encounter. 

4. Write content that is engaging and timely.
Is the content on your website relevant and updated often? Are stories written from a recipient’s viewpoint, reflecting how they benefitted from your services? Donors want to know where their money is being spent. Emphasize the important role that each donor plays and on the good that their money is doing. If writing is not your strong point, consider retaining the services of a freelance writer or editor. 

5. Develop a website that displays well on mobile devices.
Is your website responsive? That is, can visitors access it easily on a smartphone or tablet and make donations? According to Blackbaud, nearly 14% of all online donations were made on a mobile device in 2015. Millennials are using mobile devices as their primary browsing device, according to a white paper by comScore, Marketing to Millennials: 5 Things Every Marketer Should Know. That document also reports that 86% of Millennials owned a smartphone in 2015, with 1 in 5 using it as their primary browsing device. You can’t afford to ignore or lose this large donor pool. 

6. Build a donation form that makes donating easy and secure.
Do you know what makes a donation form secure? Do you know the options for online giving, and the advantages and disadvantages of each? Don’t give your site visitors a reason to leave and donate their money to another group. Earn your site visitors’ confidence by promoting the security of your online donation process. Examples include integrating an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate, or relying on a well-regarded service provider such as PayPal or Stripe.

7. Track the traffic on your site regularly.
Are you using Google Analytics or a similar tool to view the site traffic? Do you know the most popular pages on your website? If you know these stats on your website traffic, make sure to update those pages regularly. You want to give people reasons to keep coming back. 

8. Know when it is time for a website redesign.
When is it time to redo your website? Is your site responsive? Does it have a content management system (CMS) to support easy content updates? There are different ways to approach a redesign, with a range of costs. There are many templates out there — and some of them work better than others. If you are overwhelmed, ask a professional.

9. Keep active social media icons on your home page. 
Are you actively using Facebook or Twitter? Do you have social media accounts that you aren’t using? An inactive presence is worse than no presence. Find your “sweet spot” in social media and stick with it. You can assign social media management to a junior member of your team. Just make sure to provide content guidance to avoid possible mishaps. You may want to consider implementing an auto-feed to display Facebook or Twitter content on your homepage. 

10. Market your website and your online donation form. 
Can people find you online? Include your website URL and a “teaser” message in direct mail pieces, newsletters and email touchpoints in order to give supporters multiple reminders to visit your site to learn more. 

Your executive director should lead the implementation of some of these recommendations, and your internal staff can handle others. Several tactics should be completed with input from everyone, including the board of directors, while others may need help from outside consultants or professionals in the field. Your website is a vital component of your fundraising toolkit, and you need to think about your long-term fundraising goals and budget the necessary funds on an annual basis. 

More than likely, your website is crucial to your ability to encourage and accept donations — and thus, your ability to carry out your mission as well. By giving careful and serious attention to your brand, messaging, and online giving experience, you can turn your website into a powerful and cost-effective fundraising tool. Give it sufficient time and effort, and your organization will reap the rewards.