A Guide to Preparing Your Website for Year-End Giving Season

Over the past year and a half, your nonprofit has weathered the stormy seas of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’ve struggled to pivot to virtual events or have been working with fewer staff members and resources, you’ve likely struggled to meet your fundraising goals. And now you’re facing one of the most important times of year for any nonprofit: year-end giving season.

Thankfully, the outlook for this year’s end-of-year fundraising season appears sunny. According to GivingTuesday’s 2020 report, giving patterns are expected to return to pre-2020 levels and small nonprofits are expected to rebound. This means your nonprofit needs to put its best foot forward to take full advantage of this year-end giving season. 

One of the best tools you have for doing so is your nonprofit website. When you design (or revamp) your website using your nonprofit-specific content management system (CMS), you’ll be prepared to both meet your year-end donors’ needs and your fundraising goals.  

Wondering how to get started? That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll cover four best practices you can implement on your organization’s website, regardless of web design experience: 

  1. Ensure your donation form is easy to use. 
  2. Offer multiple ways to give and get involved. 
  3. Create year-end event landing pages. 
  4. Encourage social sharing with social media integration. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been planning your year-end campaign during the summer months or you’re just a few weeks away from launching your big end-of-year fundraiser. With the right nonprofit website builder, you can easily make changes to your website that will have a big impact on your year-end results, setting you up for success in the new year! Let’s get started with our first best practice. 

1. Ensure your donation form is easy to use

Your donation form is arguably the most important part of your website at any time of the year, and it’s definitely worth your while to revisit it in anticipation of the year-end giving season. 

Because the year-end season coincides with many holidays and family get-togethers, your donors won’t want to use your donation form if it takes them away from important moments and celebrations. In short, you need to ensure your form is simple, easy-to-use, and convenient for your donors to access. 

According to Morweb’s article on donation page design tips, here are a few ways to optimize your donation form : 

  • Brand your donation form to maintain trust with your donor. An unbranded donation form can make your form and payment processor seem suspicious to donors, even if they’re not. It can also make the giving experience feel disconnected from the rest of your website, and by extension, your cause. To avoid these issues, make sure you customize your donation form to display your organization’s logo, color schemes, and any other visual elements that help your supporters recognize your organization. 
  • Optimize your donation form for mobile devices. Many of your donors will be giving on the go during this busy time, so your donation form (and the rest of your website) should be responsive to smartphones and tablets. This means your donation form should adjust to fit the size of the screen your donor is using. Choose a nonprofit CMS that will do this for you automatically so you can ensure your form’s fields are “thumb friendly” and that a slow load speed doesn’t slow your donors down. 
  • Use a minimalist form design. Once your donor has made it to your donation form, you don’t want to bog them down with too many bells and whistles. Keep the donation form simple by only asking for necessary information, marking fields that are required, and condensing your donation appeal. You should also space out content with white space in between the elements on your form so your donor doesn’t get overwhelmed by too much text or an overload of images. 

Brand your donation form to maintain trust with your donor.

Even if you follow these tips and make adjustments to your donation form, you might still wonder if your form is ready to go for year-end giving. To find out how effective it is, test it out. Simply split a group of staff members or volunteers into two, have them use two different versions of your donation form, and then ask them for feedback. Keep the changes minimal between the two forms (ideally limiting it to one difference), so you can clearly identify what is working and what isn’t. This will help you know what your donors’ experience will be like during your campaign. 

2. Offer multiple ways to give and get involved

Every donor has a different capacity to give, especially during the holiday season when some people receive bonuses on their paychecks or have smaller budgets after buying gifts for loved ones. Donors appreciate when the organizations they care about recognize this and offer multiple opportunities to give back. Here are some ways you can diversify your donors’ involvement options using your website: 

  • Include a matching gift search tool on your donation page. The year-end season brings out donors’ generosity, and many of them would likely take advantage of corporate gift matching if they knew their employer offered it. Select a matching gift provider to put a matching gift search tool on your donation page. Donors will be able to find out if they’re eligible for donation matching and increase their impact much easier when all they have to do is search their employers’ names. 
  • Allow donors to opt in to a recurring gift program on your donation form. Not only does the year-end season bring out the generosity of your donors— it’s also a time when everyone is looking to the year ahead and incorporating new habits into their lives to improve themselves. One of those habits can be giving to your organization on a regular basis through a recurring gift program. Allow your donors to opt in on your donation form, then they’ll be billed automatically each month. This will provide a consistent revenue stream for your organization and a consistent giving habit for your donor! 
  • Use your website to spread the word about year-end season volunteer opportunities. Some donors won’t be able to contribute financially to your end-of-year campaign and will want to get involved through your volunteer program (or do both). Make sure to have a dedicated volunteer page or portal where you post up-to-date volunteer information and opportunities your supporters can sign up for. 

Every donor has a different capacity to give, especially during the holiday season when some people receive bonuses on their paychecks or have smaller budgets after buying gifts for loved ones.

Whether it’s time or money, each contribution to your cause makes a difference. Let your supporters know you value them, no matter what they give, by making sure you have a system in place for thanking donors and volunteers. For the year-end season, you could even send handwritten holiday cards as a thank-you with an extra personal touch

3. Create year-end event landing pages

The year-end giving season can be a great time for hosting events that help you end your year with a bang. Whether you host a large-scale gala to celebrate this year’s successes or a virtual benefit concert to pull in last-minute donations, create dedicated year-end event landing pages that house all of the information your guests will need about each event, including: 

  • The purpose of your event and how it’s tied to your cause 
  • Your fundraising goal for the event 
  • Date, time, location, and parking details
  • Livestream links for virtual or hybrid events 
  • Information about attire (especially important for themed events, like a Winter Wonderland gala)
  • Registration form
  • Online store with event swag 
  • Entertainment, catering, and sponsors 
  • Auction items and bidding information 
  • Sign-up options for your newsletter, recurring gift program, and volunteer opportunities 

The year-end giving season can be a great time for hosting events that help you end your year with a bang.

According to Morweb’s article on Giving Tuesday campaigns, another fun element to include on your event landing page is a fundraising thermometer. This can help your guests see how far you have to go before you reach your campaign goal and encourage them to give more before the event and on the day of. 

4. Encourage social sharing with social media integration

Whether you’re hosting a walk-a-thon fundraiser, planning a fancy gala, or setting up a text fundraising campaign, you’ll want your supporters to share your end-of-year campaign with their family and friends. This will not only help you boost your fundraising, but will also help you pull in supporters you can steward in the new year. 

Social media is the best tool at your disposal to get your supporters talking about your cause and year-end fundraising goals. Here are some features you can implement on your website to encourage social sharing:

  • Social media icons. Social media icons signal to your supporters that you have a social media presence and want to connect with them. They can also encourage your supporters to quickly click through and share an event landing page or donation form with their friends and family. 
  • Live social media feeds. With the right nonprofit CMS, you can embed a live feed into your website. Display your live feeds on your homepage so that website visitors see that you’re regularly posting content with updates on year-end fundraisers. A live feed encourages visitors to move back and forth between your social media profiles and your website, and it also shows them what content you’ve created related to year-end giving that they can then share with their own networks. 

Social media icons signal to your supporters that you have a social media presence and want to connect with them.

As you employ these social media features on your website, your supporters will have an easier time spreading the word about your cause and end-of-year goals. Remember to thank supporters who share your social media or website content. This can be as simple as a thank you in the comments or a direct message. 

The Gist 

As you strategize for your end-of-year campaign and use this guide to prepare your website for your donors to use as a resource to give and get information, remember to take a walk in their shoes. Think through what tools they need on your website to get involved in your year-end fundraiser and how you can use your website to make them feel seen and valued by your organization. Good luck!

By Murad Bushnaq. Murad is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.

Published: October 20, 2021

Engaging Your Board In Year-End Fundraising
6 DOs and DON’Ts of Hosting an Auction
How to Create Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Presence
How Our Nonprofit Managed Donor Outreach During a Virtual Year-End