Overcome common fundraising hurdles and maximize incoming donations
Everyone involved in a student’s education—teachers, administrators, parents, PTA and booster club members, and sports coaches—knows the importance of providing a wide variety of opportunities for students to get involved. From tutoring to drama clubs and sports programs, these opportunities enrich the student experience and increase the value of your school's offerings.
While opportunities like these are essential for creating a robust school experience, there’s one downside that often keeps these plans from becoming a reality: they cost money.
This is why schools need to be well-versed in fundraising. And in this day and age, a large part of that includes having the right online fundraising tools, like a dedicated fundraising webpage on your school website for easy online fundraising.
school-specific content management system (CMS) comes in handy. With a website builder created specifically for school professionals, PTA parents, and club leaders, you can easily enhance your school website to emphasize valuable engagement and fundraising opportunities.
However, you’ll need to know a little bit about design to put your CMS to good use. In this guide, we’ll discuss five design elements to incorporate into your school fundraising webpage to maximize incoming donations:
- Optimized donation form
- Online merchandise store
- Accessibility widget
- Social media integration
- Mobile optimization
Fundraising is never easy, but the last year or so has been especially difficult. Your school community has likely adapted to fundraising during the pandemic, and with a well-designed fundraising page, you can now enhance your fundraising efforts even further. This can help your school reach parents, community leaders, and other donors during a time when in-person fundraising is particularly difficult.
If you’re eager to boost your incoming funds and leverage the power of your online tools, this is the article for you. Let’s get started!
1. Optimized donation form
Your donation form is arguably the most important part of your school fundraising page. But even though most school professionals or parents know that, many still let donations slip out of their fingers due to a poorly-designed form. Revisit your donation form often to make sure that it works and is fast, convenient, and easy to use. It should also feel connected to the rest of your website and your institution in general.
According to Morweb’s article on donation page design, here are some ways you can improve your donation form to streamline the process and better reflect your school:
- Brand the donation form. The look of your donation form should match the rest of your school’s visual brand, like its logos and color schemes. But it should also reflect your school’s overall values and mission. For example, you might add your mission statement to the top of your donation form. Keeping your brand consistent will not only make your school look more organized and professional, but it will also reassure your donors that your donation form is connected to your school and not hosted by an untrustworthy third party.
- Keep the form simple. More and more donors are giving on the go each day. To make the giving experience quick and easy for them, make sure your form is simple. Only ask for necessary details like contact and payment information. If you do want to ask for other information to get to know your donors better, make sure you clearly mark which fields are required and which are optional.
- Offer multiple giving options. Donors, especially those who give to schools, often like to have multiple options for how to contribute. Consider offering the option to turn a one-time gift into a recurring monthly gift. You can also help your donors take advantage of donation matching by partnering with a matching gift company to include a matching gift database on your form. All your donor has to do to find out if their gift is eligible to be doubled (or sometimes tripled!) is to search the database for their employer.
If you’re short on time, your donation form should be your first priority on your fundraising page. Think through the experience you want your donors to have while giving and design the form so they’re able to use it easily and often to give to your school.
2. Online merchandise store
Who doesn’t love repping their school with branded merch? Or buying a treat to support a team they love? A great option for enhancing your school fundraising page is to include an online merchandise store. You can sell items such as:
- Branded t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, hats, or water bottles
- Sports fan products like foam fingers, banners, and horns
- Products like cookie dough, discount cards, or candles
Having an online merchandise store allows you to continue fundraising for your school around the clock. It can pair nicely with any school fundraising campaign or event you decide to host, and you can encourage donors to browse your online store when they land on your fundraising page.
If donors end up adding an order of cookie dough or a branded water bottle to the donation they were already planning to give, you will see a significant boost to your annual revenue. Not only that, but awareness of your fundraising campaigns will increase as donors use or wear the branded merchandise they’ve purchased from your online store.
3. Accessibility widget
Accessibility is a hot topic in web design, and for good reason. The last thing you want for your fundraising page (and your school website in general) is to turn people away because it can’t accommodate their needs.
In order to make sure your website is accessible to all students, teachers, parents, and donors, we recommend you add an accessibility widget to your website with the help of your school CMS. An accessibility widget empowers your website visitors to do the following, according to their needs:
- Increase text size
- Change the font type
- Change coloring to greyscale
- Highlight links
A widget helps a website visitor customize their own experience, but there are also things you can do while designing your fundraising page through your CMS to ensure your fundraising page adheres to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Here are some suggestions:
- Provide alt-text on all images and graphics.
- Include captions or transcripts for all multimedia content, like videos or podcasts.
- Make sure the background and text colors you use have a high contrast ratio.
- Use easy-to-read fonts (sans serif options are best).
Optimizing for accessibility takes a little bit of extra work on your end, but it’s a great way to show your school community that you’re striving to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of ability. Plus, it allows you to connect with any donor who might want to give to your school programs!
4. Social media integration
In addition to your website, your school’s social media accounts are critical to your online presence and, by extension, your fundraising efforts.
Using social media is a great way to get the word out about fundraising events and campaigns. While word-of-mouth is always effective, you can significantly enhance your supporters’ efforts to share your fundraisers (especially peer-to-peer fundraisers) by regularly posting to your social media. Increase your reach by encouraging followers to share your fundraising page or other content on their own social media accounts.
Make sure your website visitors are aware of your activity on social media by integrating your social media into your website. Try doing the following with the help of your CMS:
- Provide a live social media feed on your homepage or fundraising page to showcase posts about your fundraisers.
- Include social media icons on your fundraising page or donation form for fast and easy social sharing.
- Embed promotional YouTube videos and Instagram photo slideshows into your website.
These social media integration strategies can create a healthy two-way street of traffic between your social media profiles and your fundraising page. You’ll gain more followers and get more interaction with your posts on social media, and you’ll start to see more people clicking through to your fundraising page to contribute to your school.
5. Mobile optimization
As we mentioned before, parents, students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and other community members are always on the go. This is why your fundraising page needs to be “thumb friendly.” Many of your donors will want to give on their smartphones or tablets!
If your fundraising page isn’t optimized for mobile use, your donors could encounter annoying pop-up windows they can’t easily exit out of, or the need to pinch and zoom to see images and text clearly. This can frustrate your donors, or, worse, make them abandon their plan to donate altogether.
Instead of missing out on a donation, choose a school website builder that provides automatic mobile responsiveness. This is an easy way to achieve peace of mind about your donors on the go and make sure you secure every possible gift you can!
Instead of spending your time pulling your hair out while trying to figure out the technicalities of a generic CMS like WordPress or Ghost, leverage a school-specific CMS to easily design a fantastic fundraising page. As you incorporate these design elements into your fundraising page, make sure to keep your donors’ needs in mind.
If you need examples of what is possible with an easy-to-use school CMS, check out Morweb’s roundup of the best college websites to get inspired. Good luck!
Guest Author Bio
Murad Bushnaq 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.