The Ultimate Donation Page Course

Elements of Donation Page Design

If donors are inspired to give, it shouldn’t matter what your donation page looks like, right?
Wrong. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)


We’re visual creatures, which means we put a lot of stock into the way things look. We use images and patterns to learn and process our surroundings. Visual cues provide information that helps us make decisions and avoid danger. Plus, when things are visually pleasing, we tend to trust and enjoy them more. The same holds true for nonprofit donation pages.


In this lesson, we’ll cover:
  • Why donation page design affects fundraising results
  • The right way to brand your page
  • How to choose the right image for your donation page

Why donation page design affects fundraising results

When a donor goes to your donation form from your email appeal or website, does it feel as if they have been taken to a whole other universe? The twilight zone perhaps?

When donors hit your donation page, they shouldn’t feel as if you’ve handed them off to a stranger to take their money. A well-designed page helps your donors feel more at ease when giving. A donation page with your logo, branding, and style looks more professional and creates a warmer, more familiar experience.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The way your page looks can affect the amount of money you raise.

Donation stats from the Digital Giving Index have consistently shown that branded nonprofit donation pages bring in higher average donation amounts than their generic, unbranded cousins.

Branded vs. Generic Giving Pages

Generic giving pages that don’t look like a nonprofit’s brand see 20-30% smaller average gifts than pages that are branded to look like a nonprofit’s website or campaign materials.

Bottom line: If your donation page feels like it has nothing to do with your cause, your donors may wonder if they landed in the right place.

To-do: Try clicking to your donation page from your email appeals or your website. Are there elements of continuity, or is this transition jarring?

The right way to brand your page

For best results, your donation page should match both:

  1. Your organization’s brand and design.
  2. The look and feel of the campaign materials that brought your user to the page.

This reinforces your organization’s identity, and it also improves the donor experience by maintaining a consistent look and feel.

Colors:  Your donation page should focus on no more than 2-3 core brand colors, weave in other colors sparingly to avoid visual overload. Your donation page colors should be the same colors that appear in your logo, on your website, and in your other marketing materials. (Don’t have brand colors yet? Check out this this overview of the science of colors in marketing and design.)

Design:  If you have other design motifs that are key to your nonprofit’s identity, find ways to include them, but make sure they don’t add to visual clutter on your page. Your goal is to enhance your donor’s recognition of your cause and provide a consistent experience.

Text:  Choose fonts and text colors that complement your brand, but err on the side of readability. Dark colors on light backgrounds work best. Stay away from heavily stylized typefaces for the bulk of your donation page text. Aim for maximum utility instead of trying to be too artistic. Use a font size that is easy to read for donors of all ages. When text is hard to read, for whatever reason, it sets off a red flag in your donor’s mind, not to mention that it makes it much more difficult for them to complete your form.

Images: Your logo should appear on your donation page, preferably in the upper left corner. This is where online visitors expect it to be, so don’t try any funny business. Your logo is a visual indicator to donors that they’re in the right place and reminds them of other great expeiriences they may have had with your organization. In addition to your logo, one high-quality photo will help you connect with donors and reinforce your case for giving. Read on to find out how to pick the perfect photo for your page.


Tip: Think of what your nonprofit stands for and how your organization is most recognized by supporters. Use these two things to guide your donation page design.

How to choose the right image

The right picture can add the perfect amount of inspiration to reaffirm your donor’s decision to give. A poorly chosen image, on the other hand, can confuse donors or send the wrong message about your mission.

Your donation page image should capture a donor’s attention and immediately communicate who will benefit from their gift. You need to offer an eye-catching photo that will connect emotionally with your donor. Feature an image of the people or animals who will ultimately benefit from your work. You literally need to put a face on your work.

Right about now, some of you may be thinking, “But my organization is working with [fill in the blank], we don’t have faces to show!” With very few exceptions, all organizations should be able to follow the impact of their missions to an individual person or animal that benefits from their work. Try it. You’ll find that once you do, the rest of your fundraising messages will come to life as well.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting your image:


  • Generic-looking images
  • Images that are obviously stock photos
  • Cartoons, illustrations, or abstract symbols
  • Images of buildings
  • Inanimate objects
  • Images of crowds
  • Photos that are too small to have a visual impact
  • Busy images


  • A single, focused image that reinforces an emotional connection with your cause
  • Close-up images of faces (animal or human)
  • Real photos of your work
  • Photos that focus on one or two individuals
  • Photos of individuals looking straight into the camera
  • Photos that help tell a story of what a donation can do
  • Photos that illustrate the need *or* the need being met
  • Images that illustrate the positive impact of your work
  • Images that are in focus and are the right resolution for Web use

Note: There’s a lot of debate in fundraising circles over whether negative imagery raises more money than more positive photos. In most cases these arguments look at the outreach efforts of large humanitarian organizations, which may not reflect your situation. While I recommend that most organizations start with images that portray the impact a donation will have, at the end of the day, the best image is the image that helps your nonprofit raise money. Often, whether an image is effective or not goes well beyond one facet such as positive vs. negative.

For more thoughts on this topic, check out what fundraising guru, Jeff Brooks, has to say.Daniel Melbye offers another take.


Tip: Use the same photo on your website, in your appeals, in your advertisements, and on your donation page to help tie the whole experience together.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Fundraising with a branded donation page can boost your online donations.
  • Use your organization’s colors, logo, and other key styles to keep your message consistent.
  • For best results, focus on one image that features one emotionally-compelling subject.


Want to be a better nonprofit marketer and fundraiser? Get alerts for free tips, key content, and other training opportunities.