Best Practices For Converting Donors Through Donation Tiers

Olivia James
Olivia James

Education at CauseVox

Your donation form should be helping you get more donors — whether it’s on your website, or on your crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or virtual campaign site.

To make sure you’re getting as many donors as possible, your focus should be on increasing your donation form conversion rate – which is the percent of people who actually complete a donation once they’ve landed on your site.

And how easy it is to give makes a big difference: if your donation form is too long, too confusing, or not mobile-friendly, many potential donors will navigate away.

However, when your donation form makes it as easy as possible to give, you can actually raise up to 2x as much, without any additional asks.

For example, CauseVox users typically raise 82% more when they switch from a generic Paypal donation form, helping organizations raise nearly 2x as much through their website.

And a significant part of driving conversions on your donation form has to do with your suggested levels of giving — aka your Donation Tiers.

The IIIC reported a $100 increase in average gift size when they started using the CauseVox Donation Page – which they largely credited to the use of Donation Tiers to drive up lower gift amounts.

Optimizing your conversion rate and average gift size isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s the difference between your organization growing and your organization barely scraping by.

Here’s how you can use Donation Tiers to increase your donor conversion rate and drive up gift size:

How Donation Tiers Drive Donor Conversion

This all sounds pretty amazing, but how does it work? Essentially donation tiers rely on two kinds of pressure on your donor: the first is that it builds a social expectation. If donors see what they “should” give, they’ll assume others are giving that much too. It will push them to choose an amount you’ve listed, or at least something close to fit in with the pack.

But donation tiers also remove the bad kind of pressure from your donors by minimizing the choices they have to make. It makes the whole process faster and easier, making the donor more likely to give.

Finally, with some careful social science, you can use your donation tiers to subtly signal to your donors how much you really want them to give. This can increase gifts overall. Let’s take a look at how you can use your donation tiers to increase giving.

5 Top Tips for Donation Tiers To Convert More Donors

1. Don’t Offer Too Many Options

One of the benefits of Donation Tiers is that it minimizes the number of decisions the donor has to make, removing the friction that comes with making a decision of how much they should give.

If you have a big list of 10 different options, the decision making process becomes longer. They have to think, should I give $15, or $25, or $35, or $50? 

For most people, it’s likely that someone that could afford to give $15 could also easily give $25. If you have both options, it’s just unnecessary clutter. If you only provide a $25 tier, you can pull some of those $15 donors up, and allow all donors to quickly find the amount that works for them.

At CauseVox, we’ve found that the optimal donation experience has between 3-6 donation tiers.

Any more, and your donor will feel overwhelmed by the number of choices they should make. 

And, if you use Descriptive Tiers (ie: $10 feeds one homeless person for a day): they should be short and easy to digest.

Have you ever seen a donation page so clean?

Especially if you know folks will be giving on mobile (as we’ve seen 65% of them do), you want the form to be as short and simple as possible. One great option for mobile giving is to use CauseVox’s new Simple Tiers. 

Simple Tiers give you:

  • A shorter form – no descriptions required!
  • Enhanced UI for the easiest donor experience, especially on mobile devices.
  • Flexible tier options so you can tailor your donation page for your needs.
  • A faster, simplified process so you get more donors completing their donation.

With shorter and simpler donation tiers, you remove friction, and therefore help them get onto the next step faster.

2. Tailor It To Your Needs

Each nonprofit is different, and any good donation page is customized to your needs.

Maybe Simple Tiers are the right choice for you, but you may also want to tell your donors a little bit about what each amount will do. 

In fact, a survey from Charities Aid Foundation found that 68% of their respondents said that it was important to have evidence about how a charity is having an impact. Descriptive Tiers are a bite-sized way to provide that information.

This can give some donors the final push to make a donation. You can use Descriptive Tiers to share specifically about the impact of a donation at each giving level.

Simple Tiers vs. Descriptive Tiers on CauseVox

There are so many ways to describe impact. Possibilities include:

  • Person to person (ie: $10 feeds one homeless person for a day)
  • Item based (ie: $10 provides 3 meals for someone in need)
  • Time based (ie: $30 provides a counseling session to someone in need)
  • Recognition and rewards (ie: $15 gives you access to email updates and a bumper sticker) 
  • Titles (Ie: $20 is a Mental Health Supporter, $50 is a Mental Health Advocate)
Summit Assistance Dogs uses impact-driven tiers
Stupid Cancer’s title-based donation tiers

For details about the different ways you can use descriptions, check out this blog post with more best practices.

What’s really important here is knowing your organization and your donors. 

Maybe you don’t have a clear description (ie: $20 or $50 both go towards cancer research), or you know your donors are ready to give by the time they hit your donation page. If you want a short and clean process, stick with Simple Tiers. 

But if you want your donor to see their impact of every donation amount, Descriptive Tiers may be right for you. 

3. Customize Your One-Time Donation Tiers For Your Audience

Ready to build tiers that work for your audience? Start by looking at your average gift size.

When you pull the average gift size, including the median gift size, you’ll have a great jumping off point to help you create your list of 3-6 customized tiers that fit your own audience.

Better yet, take a look at your existing median gift amount, and start moving it up a bit to help push donors to give more.

Is your median gift $50? Instead list $55 as your donation tier.

If you don’t know where to start, the average donation on CauseVox is about $109. If we were to create a site-wide set of donation tiers, we’d start by building one right at $109 (or maybe $100 if the randomness of $109 gets to you). Next, we’d fill in one below and one above, and add in at least one that’s over double. 

4. Customize Your Recurring Donation Tiers

You can take it one step further by customizing recurring donation tiers to increase giving.

Recurring donors typically give 42% more over the course of a year, and have a 90% donor retention rate.

This means that your recurring donors give nearly twice as much, and stick around for longer.

To maximize recurring giving, you’ll want to create customized donation tiers that help drive more recurring gifts.

Ie: Let’s say your first one-time donation tier is $30, but your first recurring donation tier is $10. Sally comes to your page, initially thinking to give a $30 one-time donation. But instead, she also sees the option to give $10/mo to provide ongoing support. It’s less money out of her pocket in the moment, and she’s excited about what you’re doing, so it’s a nice alternative. 

Sally chooses the $10 option, and you’ve just increased Sally’s gift size 4x times over the course of a year, with no more effort on Sally or your organization’s part.

CauseVox’s latest product update allows you to create one set of donation tiers for one-time donors, and another set for recurring donors.

Segment out your recurring donor average/median gift amounts, and use recurring donation tiers to drive up recurring gifts too. 

Pro-tip: If you want more recurring donors, make sure “monthly recurring” is your defaulted, so it’s the first option your donor sees.

One-time and monthly recurring donation tiers on CauseVox Donation Page

4. Use Multiple Pages For Different Audiences, With Custom Tiers

The same set of donation tiers isn’t going to make sense everywhere. If you’re running a high-end gala with your top donors, you’ll want a set of donation tiers that matches the depth of their pockets. If you’re running a school fundraiser with local parents, you want amounts that will feel accessible to everyone. 

Stupid Cancer's donation tiers for an event. Each tier ties back to supporting the event.
Stupid Cancer created these custom donation tiers for their Toast Gala fundraiser.

This might mean creating different pages or campaigns to be used in different settings. Segment your donors based on the data you have about them, and provide each segment with tiers that fit in their budget.

5. Think Design

When restaurants create their menus, they often use principles of design to push diners to certain items. You can do the same with your donation tiers. For example, out of all the donation tiers, most people will choose the second option on the list.

This little factoid relies on a quirk of human psychology: we don’t want to spend too much, but we don’t want to seem like we’re giving the least. If there’s one amount that you really want your donors to give, place it second.

Another trick is called anchoring. You’ve probably seen some donation pages that have one amount highlighted. This makes that number seem more important than the others on the page, and will pull donors to give that amount.

CauseVox builds these design principles into our Donation Form, helping you create tiers that match your needs. 

Raise More With Free Customized Donation Forms

Do you want to make your donation tiers a thing of beauty? CauseVox is here to make your fundraising easier.

Watch a tutorial of our new donation tiers.

Learn the ins and outs of the new system, take home best practices, and set up your own donation tiers to be the best they can be.

Are you ready to get started? Sign up for free.

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