The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

The Quick and Dirty Guide to A/B Testing Your Donation Page

A/B Testing Your Donation Page

Your landing pages are important, and your donation pages are no exception. Do you ever wish you could know which messages, suggested donation amounts, or photos are the best at inspiring your donors to give?

Enter A/B testing.

Although testing might seem a little scary if you’ve not done it, there are simple tests you can perform to ensure you’re getting the most out of your online donation pages.

Basic A/B testing helps you decide which images, calls to action, and suggested donation amounts perform best
Basic A/B testing helps you decide which images, calls to action, and suggested donation amounts perform best by comparing the effectiveness of two versions of your donation page.

Here’s how it works: a randomly selected half of your audience is served one form (the control), and the other half gets another form (the test). The test version has just one variable changed: the layout, image, copy, or headings.

Over time, monitor which donation page has the higher completion rate, calculated as follows: number of donations divided by the number of people who landed on your page.

Not so scary after all, right? Here’s a simple step-by-step guide from my friend (and super-smart fundraising pro) Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies:

  1. Set up a control donation page.
  2. Decide which variable you want to test (see “What to Test” below).
  3. Set up a second donation page with that variable changed.
  4. Make both pages live and drive traffic to both forms. (You can split your email list and include a different page in each email.)
  5. Track completion rates across both pages, calculated by the number of donations divided by the number of people who landed on the form.
  6. Monitor your results (depending on the traffic to your pages, your test may need to run for a longer period of time).
  7. Check your results with a statistical significance calculator like this one.*
  8. The winner of this test becomes your control.
  9. Now, start the process all over again to get even smarter. Test another variable against your new control to learn what elements improve your conversion rate and lead to more donations.

* What’s a statistically significant result? This just means that you can rest assured that your results did not occur purely by chance.

When to Test

The best time to test is when you think you’ll get a significant amount of traffic to your donation page. These moments might include:

  1. A specific email campaign.
  2. In December, when a majority of online giving occurs.
  3. A high-profile event or during media attention

Higher traffic volumes mean you’ll have a better chance that you will get statistically significant results. If you have low traffic volume, you must test for a longer period of time to get significant results.

What to Test

So, what should you test? Here are a few ideas that typically yield useful insights:

  1. Photos: Does a puppy beat a kitten?
  2. Layout: Does a one-column form beat a two-column form?
  3. Testimonials: Does a testimonial from another donor increase completion rates?
  4. Donation amounts: Does a lower suggested donation amount increase completion rates?
  5. Copy: Does shorter intro copy beat longer intro copy?
  6. Premiums: Will offering a thank you gift increase completions?

What Not to Test

On the flip side, there are a few things that aren’t worth the effort. Here are a few tests you can avoid:

  1. More than one variable at a time: you won’t know which element made the difference.
  2. Elements that are outside your nonprofit’s branding: this different experience will likely cause donors to be confused, affecting your completion rates.
  3. Images that are too similar: it’s unlikely this will have significant results, and therefore not worth your time.
  4. Copy that is too similar in tone and length: your donors likely won’t notice the nuance.

How to Read Your Results

  1. After a period of time, run your results through the significance calculator. If you have statistically significant results, you can name the winner and move on to another test.
  2. If you don’t have a statistically significant winner, keep the test live for few more weeks to collect more data.
  3. If you still don’t have a statistically significant winner (and this sometimes happens), try testing a different variable.


The Ultimate Donation Page Guide

Now is the time to start thinking about testing your pages, if you’re not in the habit of doing so already. If you can work in a few tests in the next few months, you’ll be in prime shape to greet an onslaught of donors come December. What do you plan to test? Let me know what you’re testing in the comments and share your results!

Want more tips on improving your donation pages? Grab a copy of the Ultimate Donation Page Guide!

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About This Blog

Lisa Bonanno
Vice President of Digital Marketing

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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