What if you didn’t have to coordinate information collection through a variety of patchwork methods any longer? What would you do with all of your new free time? Online forms on your nonprofit’s website allow you to easily collect information for a variety of key items, from donations to email newsletter sign-ups to client stories. And the key phrase whenever you’re discussing online forms for nonprofits needs to be “on your nonprofit’s website”.
Still using your own email address and phone number on your Contact Us or Get Involved pages? Or are you using a bunch of different third-party websites for things like event registrations or volunteer signups? Let’s get into opportunities to simplify, organize and save you time on common types of information collected through custom online forms.
Why Keep Forms on Your Website?
Some nonprofits may opt to manually enter information into a database or send visitors off of their website to a third-party website to save the hassle of creating the forms themselves. Outside of the simplicity of keeping all of your information collection in the same spot, there are a few other compelling reasons to use online forms and keep them on your site.
- You’ll be able to access and export all form submissions in one, easy-to-remember place.
- You’ll have the capability to update and customize forms to meet your organization’s exact needs.
- Some visitors become wary when you send them away from your website to complete certain actions and prefer forms to be directly on your site.
- After submitting a form, visitors may complete other actions or further engage with your website content if they’re not sent away from your site.
- You’ll avoid third-party fees that come along with using other services to accomplish things that an online form can do.
- You’ll be able to integrate your forms with other software that’s connected to your website, like email marketing services or donor databases.
Convinced yet? Collecting all of the information you need from supporters in one place—your website—streamlines the process for your supporters completing the form and your internal processes for collecting information.
Online Forms for Nonprofits
That begs the question: what forms should you include on your website? Let’s take a look at six common online forms for nonprofits. While not all of these forms may apply to your specific organization’s needs, we’ve found that most nonprofits use these types of online forms on a fairly regular basis.
Basically the end-all, be-all of online forms for nonprofits, the donate form should be, above all else, donor-friendly. Follow best practices and pay attention to giving trends. These can be applied to any online form, but should especially be applied to your donate forms.
- Secure: Anti-spam measures have been taken and the form is connected to a trusted payment processor.
- Transparent: Let visitors know about who you help, your status as nonprofit (or otherwise) and what happens once their donation is complete.
- Mobile-friendly: Giving trends show that visitors want to give on their mobile devices.
- Easy to complete: Limit the number of form fields to only those that are most essential to your organization and keep the entire process on one page.
- Connected: When your donate form is integrated with tools like your email service and donor management system, your follow-up and relationship building becomes less complicated.
To get people to start the donation process, content is key. Get tips on crafting a Donate page to encourage supporters to complete your form.
Email sign-up form
An email newsletter subscription is often the action on a nonprofit website with the lowest barrier to entry, collecting interested potential supporters at the beginning of their journey with your nonprofit and enticing them into further involvement through steady contact. Get tips on building a better newsletter strategy.
Whenever possible, your email newsletter signup form should be a simple, one-field form that collects an email address and automatically adds it to your email list with your email service provider. See why we like MailChimp’s email service for nonprofits.
Volunteer sign-up form
Lots of nonprofits rely on volunteers to move their mission forward. To attract new volunteers and manage sign-ups on your website, many organizations use either a volunteer system or an interest form for new volunteers to complete initially before being vetted for specific volunteer positions.
- Friendly: Set the tone for your relationship by wording questions in a friendly way.
- Include custom details: Note things like how many volunteers you’ll need for the opportunity and whether its a one-time deal or occurs regularly.
- Provide next steps: Whether you’re just gauging interests or allowing actual sign-ups, new volunteers will want to know what happens next before clicking submit.
Event registration form
As with volunteer sign-ups, there are a few ways to accomplish event registration on your website, mainly through an event system or through individual event forms for each event you hold. Whichever direction your organization takes, the registration form should be:
- Quick and seamless: The registration or ticket purchase process should be completed in as few steps as possible.
- Branded: Potential attendees should be confident about what the event is and the organization or project that it supports.
- Include custom details: Let attendees know what’s included and options they have, like t-shirt sizes or meal choices.
- Provide next steps: Whenever you ask for payment or registration information upfront, ease concerns with adequate information about touch points that will occur closer to the event, like if you’ll send them a reminder or follow up with them about where to park.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to weed out spam calls and emails ahead of time? A simple contact form can accomplish that. You should only need three form fields here:
- Collect personal details: Gather their name and at least one method of direct contact (email or phone).
- Provide space to ask a question: Include a paragraph form field where they can add their question or comment.
- Thank visitors for reaching out: Create a Thank You page that lets visitors know about any next steps and links to FAQs or information for urgent help.
It’s also helpful to include a timeline for folks on when you’ll be reaching out with an answer to their questions somewhere on the page.
Share your story form
Nonprofit storytelling is a powerful way to connect supporters with your cause and encourage further support. However, tracking down stories can be a pretty daunting task. Enter: the Share Your Story form. Include all the fields you’ll need, like fields to collect contact information, a photo, and a paragraph text field to add a story. You’ll want it to be:
- Warm and welcoming: Question form fields should make visitors feel safe and comfortable providing their information.
- Clear: Note where you’ll use their story and get their consent to use it in those places.
- Easy to complete: Consider not requiring all of the fields on this form to encourage more form completions. It’s likely you can do without things like a photo or phone number.
Detecting a theme through our form recommendations? Simpler is best. Try to use the least amount of form fields possible to accomplish your goal for the form, which should encourage your visitors to complete the action. Keep it on your website to stay in control and take the time to optimize the process from start to finish for your nonprofit’s specific target audience.
What online forms for nonprofits would you recommend including on a website? Does your nonprofit have all six? Let me know in the comments below.