We all know it’s important to accept online donations, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Online donation tools are meant to make the donation process as smooth and simple as possible. However, if that means sending donors off of your site, you may be losing out on dollars along the way.

As a nonprofit, you have a few options when it comes to online donation tools, but these options can be broken into two main categories — self-hosted and hosted by a third party. A self-hosted donation page is a page with a donation form on your website, while those hosted by a third party (often your payment processor, donor database or an online giving platform) send potential donors to an entirely different website to make the actual donation.

Is your nonprofit accepting donations directly on your website? If you’re sending potential donors to a third party site, you may be losing some folks in the process. Accepting donations directly on your website encourages trust, donor ease and an overall better experience. User research by the Nielsen Norman Group found that leaving the nonprofit’s website confused some users and caused them to change their minds about donating.

We pulled together some benefits to accepting donations directly on your nonprofit website.

Your Traffic Stays on Your Website

This benefit is simple and straightforward. By keeping donors on your website to complete their donation, they remain on your site and can go on to read and interact with more of your content, perhaps even completing another big call-to-action like registering for an event or signing up to volunteer. By sending donors to a vendor’s website, you’re losing that opportunity as it can be difficult to direct them back to your website once they’ve left.

Customize Your Donate Page as Much as You Like

While many third-party online donation tools offer some customization and generally follow best practices for web design, there are always boundaries. Only a self-hosted donation page offers you free rein with customizations. Spending the time and money to create a donate page with a special look and feel can have a big impact on donations. For many nonprofits, donations are your bread and butter. Why not make that clear with a strong donation page that inspires supporters?

You’ll also have much more control over the donation form itself when it’s housed on your website. Create as many custom fields as you like to capture the information that you need from your donors.

Create a Trustworthy URL

A self-hosted page gives your nonprofit the ability to choose your own URL. A short and clean URL invokes more trust than a long URL to a different site with a slew of jumbled letters and numbers tacked onto the end. If you were given the choice between https://nonprofit.org/donate and http://third-party.org/site/384hfk3/donate_nonprofit/s3i5u803/seiru2093wjfo=03, which one would you trust more? When it comes to donations, you don’t want to leave even the shadow of a doubt.

Integrate Online Donations With Your Donor Database

Keeping your donation process completely on your website allows you additional customization when it comes to integration, meaning you can likely integrate online donors with your donor database automatically. When the other options are exporting and importing data that can get lost in translation, or even manually entering donor data, this integration keeps your data safe and can be a huge time-saver and headache reliever.

See why we recommend the Bloomerang donor management system.

Streamline the Donation Process

Donors can be fickle and wary with their support. By making the donation process as clear, simple and easy to understand as possible, you can streamline the experience and thus increase your online donations. Don’t ask questions that you don’t absolutely need the answers to and be sure you’re phrasing those questions so they’re easily understood.

Simplicity and trust are key here. Kicking visitors off of your website and onto a vendor site encourages neither simplicity nor trust. However, housing your donation process directly on your site is not only simpler and more trustworthy, but it also gives you the freedom to mold and customize your donor experience.

Are you accepting donations directly on your site? What online donation tools are you using? Let’s talk more about online fundraising in the comments!


    • Thanks for commenting, Sharifa! When you create a website with our platform, you’ll be able to take advantage of all its nonprofit-specific features, including the ability to accept one-time and recurring donations directly on your website through an integration with the payment processor of your choice. We’d love to hear from you about getting started!

    • Hi, Bekka. We’d recommend using Stripe as a payment processor. It facilitates the whole online donation process, including the payment gateway. Plus, they offer a pretty great discount for nonprofits. Check out other benefits and see why we recommend Stripe.

  1. Christine, I agree with what you said that charity websites should have a clear, simple, and easy process for online donations so people would keep on donating since the process is fairly easy. My dad has been wanting to donate to a frontline medical caregiver drive ever since the pandemic started, but he’s having a hard time looking for a senior-friendly website. I’ll try to help find one this weekend when I’m no longer swamped with work. Great article!

    • Thanks for the comment, Levi. I’m sorry to hear that your dad has had trouble giving to an organization who undoubtedly needs it right now. Would you mind sharing what his pain points were in donation process? (No need to point fingers or name the specific organization.) Hopefully, you’ll be able to help him find a good organization to give to this weekend!

    • Thanks for the comment! That’s exactly right. Simplicity and security are crucial when it comes to online donations.