5 Tips for Creating Your Online Salesforce Donation Form
By: Tim Forbes, VP of Products and Marketing – Soapbox Engage
Salesforce is the world’s leading CRM platform for a few reasons, but chief among them is its flexibility. For nonprofits, whose projects, campaigns, and events rely on so many moving pieces, this level of flexibility can be a game-changer. Salesforce apps have totally changed the game when it comes to customizing your organization’s database.
Building out a fully customized toolkit that can draw directly from your wealth of data has never been easier. It’s also never been more important, especially for nonprofit organizations.
More and more nonprofits are turning to the Salesforce platform as an ideal database solution because it’s robust, scalable, and customizable.
While organizations should always try to stay updated on new nonprofit productivity tools that emerge, never forget the essentials! An app for accepting, processing, and reporting online donations is probably one of the most important tools that any nonprofit on Salesforce should have in their arsenal.
At Soapbox Engage, we specialize in developing Salesforce-integrated apps for nonprofits, so we’ve seen firsthand what the right tools can do for an organization that’s just gotten started on the CRM platform.
This quick guide can walk you through the essentials of Salesforce.org Nonprofit Cloud donation apps, and we’ll cover 5 best practices for customizing your donation form once you’ve got it configured. First, let’s cover the basics of Salesforce apps for nonprofits more generally.
Salesforce Apps for Nonprofits
As mentioned above, donation apps are among the most important tools that a nonprofit needs to make the most of Salesforce. A donation app should accomplish a few important tasks:
- Accept and process online donations
- Allow donation forms to be easily integrated with your website
- Directly report transaction data to your Salesforce database
If you’re new to Salesforce, never underestimate the value of automatic data reporting. This alone is the main reason why going with a Salesforce-integrated tool is almost always the best choice for organizations already on the platform.
Automated reporting not only streamlines your record-keeping, but it also ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. A full data set gives your team a much more comprehensive view of the performance of your fundraising campaigns and marketing efforts, which helps you refine your strategies in the future.
The value of automated reporting doesn’t just apply to donation apps, though. Nonprofits on Salesforce use a wide variety of other integrated tools and apps to pursue their missions and streamline their operations. These include:
- Event registration, planning, and management tools
- Customizable online forms to collect information
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaign management
- Petitions and targeted action tools for advocacy campaigns
- Digital marketing management and analytics
- eCommerce capabilities
Again, aside from their core functions, each of these tools is made even more useful by the fact that they help you develop more data-driven strategies and continually refine your techniques based on what’s proven to work. Plan smarter events, engage more donors online, and craft highly effective marketing campaigns by throwing more data into the mix.
Features to Look for in a Donation App
When it’s time to find a new (or first) Salesforce-integrated donation app for your nonprofit, there are a few important features to look for. Some are evidently essential, but you might not initially consider some others. Be sure to examine any potential tools from all angles.
Consider these features:
- Intuitive reporting. As mentioned above, automated reporting is essential. However, data reporting shouldn’t just be automatic, it should also be intuitive. For instance, if a previous donor makes a new gift online, the donation app should report that transaction to that donor’s profile in your database.
- Mobile responsiveness. With more people using mobile phones to get content online, your donation form has to work well and look great on smaller screens. Otherwise, you risk unintentionally turning away a huge segment of potential donors. (For more on recurring donors and web marketing, see this research report.)
- Additional capabilities. Make sure any donation apps you consider offer additional tools and features beyond simply accepting and processing donations. Examples include recurring donation options and easy peer-to-peer fundraising tools for donors to set up and share their own donation pages for your cause.
- Full customization. Your app should also you to fully customize both the content of the donation form and the appearance of the page itself. This enables you to collect all the information you need from donors, and consistent branding across your pages reassures donors of your professionalism.
For more features, context, and examples, explore the Soapbox Engage introduction to Salesforce donation apps.
Best Practices for Customizing a Donation Form
With the right Salesforce-integrated donation app to support your online fundraising efforts, your organization next needs to focus on customizing the donation form itself.
Remember that your online donation form is incredibly important in the process of securing online support; it’s the last point of contact between your organization and the potential donor before they choose whether or not to complete the transaction. Everything else on your website up until that point should help to convince them that your mission is worth supporting.
The main job of your donation form, then, is to ensure that your donor can quickly and easily act on their motivation to give. Consider these best practices for optimizing your donation form:
1. Balance your required fields to be thorough but concise. Your donation form is a great place to collect additional information on your donors, but the last thing you should do is slow down the process too much. Ask for everything you need to know, not necessarily everything you want to know.
2. Provide additional options after the donation has been completed. Configure your donation form to lead donors to a thank-you page. This is where to include additional options, like newsletter sign-up or extra information fields.
3. Use consistent branding to maintain continuity. Your donation page and form should visually resemble the rest of your nonprofit’s website. Strong visual branding improves the user experience by making a great impression and reassuring donors of security.
4. Provide intuitive payment options. Today, there’s no reason to limit the ways that donors can give money online. Look for donation apps that allow you to accept donations via PayPal, for instance. Recurring donation options are also a best practice.
5. Make sure to configure automatic reporting. Remember: intuitive, automated reporting is one of the most important features of any Salesforce-integrated tool. Take the time to review and configure your tool’s reporting settings before taking it online.
Integrated Salesforce Ecosystems
Finally, let’s review why it’s important (and valuable) to build out your nonprofit’s toolkit with Salesforce-integrated apps.
Creating an ‘ecosystem’ of integrated tools means each of your tools contributes to and draws from the same sources of data, your central Salesforce database. As mentioned above, donation apps provide your organization with some of its most important data for measuring both organizational performance and donor engagement.
The main idea is that using more Salesforce-integrated tools makes your wealth of data more useful and comprehensive in the long run.
Event planning is a particularly good example of when a rich database and toolkit really come in handy. If you use a Salesforce event registration app, you’ll be able to more accurately (and automatically) track engagement with your events and have that data reported to the correct donor profiles in your database.
If your larger nonprofit uses a more heavy-duty, Salesforce-integrated event planning platform, you’ll be able to draw directly from your database when building guest lists, marketing campaigns, and more.
Salesforce is changing the way the world does business, in large part because it allows organizations to both customize their toolkits and make full use of their data in new ways.
For nonprofit organizations, these abilities make a crucial difference. With such tight budgets, any edge in streamlining operations, refining strategies, and engaging supporters can be a game changer. Salesforce apps, and especially intuitive donation apps, are the perfect way to get started.
For more on improving your marketing to drive fundraising results, see this report that analyzed 4,117 email communications, 534 direct mail letters, and 83 phone calls from real donations to 115 nonprofits.
About the Author
Tim Forbes, VP of Products and Marketing at Soapbox Engage, orchestrates the Soapbox Engage product teams while educating organizations about efficient and effective use of modern technology. These duties are informed and inspired by more than a decade of work at nonprofits in the U.S. and overseas where his experience has included project management, strategic planning, marketing, and fundraising as well as website development.
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