University Fundraising: 5 Best Online Giving Experiences in 2024

Boost your university fundraising efforts by creating a positive online giving experience. Here's a list of 5 universities that do it well!
University fundraising

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Foundations are the lifeblood of universities to transform areas of the campus.

This may include new buildings, funding projects, or improving the student experience.

When you think of giving to a college or university, you may think of wealthy individuals writing checks to take part in fundraising galas or special programs.

However, online giving has been rapidly expanding in the higher education space.

In fact, University Business reported last year that four-year public institutions saw a 16% increase in revenue from online giving in 2020.

With online giving becoming more important to colleges and universities, it's important to look at the giving experience for supporters.

There's an assumption that if someone wants to give, then the experience isn't as important. In fact, the giving experience has an significant impact on conversions.

NextAfter has conducted over 3,000 online fundraising experiments and their tests with Dallas Theological Seminary proved that slight tweaks can lift donations by 100+%

For example, something as simple as reducing the amount of content on a page can increase conversions by 134.3%.

In this post, we will explore some higher education institutions that are shining examples when it comes to making it easy for their supporters to give.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA best university fundraising experience


UCLA's online experience recognizes that people need to quickly find what they want.

On the university's homepage, the "Give" button is placed in the right corner with a blue background. This makes it stand out from the rest of the content on the page.

Upon clicking the "Give" button, the supporter ends up in the Give To UCLA portal.

This giving page has branding consistency, as they use the same colors and fonts as the homepage.

Also, this page makes it easy for supporters to give in exactly the way they may want to. This includes choosing a one-time or monthly gift.

They also allow supporters to customize their gifts. They can choose to give to a school, campus, or cause.

Their giving form has minimal fields and makes the entire experience feel easy and seamless.

It's clear a lot of thought was put into making UCLA alums and supporters feel like their donations are personal.

→ Learn about the 8 ways you can optimize your school's donation page!

University of Maryland, College Park

University of Maryland best university fundraising experience


The University of Maryland's homepage has an easy-to-see "Support UMD" button at the bottom of the navigation.

When a supporter clicks "Give Now," they are immediately taken to a donation page where they can view a list of the most needed funds.

Supporters also have the option to give to different colleges/schools, programs, and more.

Once the supporter chooses their gift amount and answers a few questions, they can quickly give their gift.

The only critique we would make on the Maryland giving experience is they should consider asking for recurring gifts earlier in the donation process.

The return on investment (ROI) is very high for monthly membership programs. So it may make sense for them to consider discussing the value of giving monthly as part of their ask.

The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University best university fundraising experience


On The Ohio State University's homepage, there is a very visible "Give today" button in the top right corner.

Once a supporter clicks on that button, they land on the donation page.

Giving to The Ohio State University does not need significant mental labor. They immediately explain why someone should give and how to give.

Their donation form focuses on monthly giving, as "Monthly" is the default gift frequency.

They also have buttons that display dynamic gift amounts, depending on if the supporter is giving monthly or one-time.

Simple is the best way to explain this giving experience, which is a great thing. Effortless experiences that give your supporters options have a direct correlation to conversions.

While Ohio State's web design isn't that modern, it is highly legible. There's a fine line between edgy and modern and outdated, and Ohio State has found a good balance.

→ Want to grow the impact of your fundraising efforts? Here's a list of 9 important higher education fundraising statistics and strategies!

Louisiana State University (LSU)

LSU best university fundraising experience


LSU has a very unique giving experience built around their capital campaign, "Fierce for the Future."

The "Give" button is nested in the website navigation. Upon clicking the "Give" button, the supporter is taken to the dedicated website for their capital campaign.

The branding, video, and explanation of where donations will go are compelling. It makes supporters want to give and helps them understand why their gift matters.

Once the supporter is on the dedicated campaign page, the "Give" button is bold in the top right corner.

On the next page, there is a list of different schools and an explanation of the major areas that the campaign is focused on.

When the supporter chooses to give, they are provided with the option to give once, give on a recurring basis, or pledge.

The layout is clear and asks for information that helps guide the supporter's personalized experience.

LSU's effective branding and compelling messaging provide an example that other higher education institutions can learn from.

Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS)

RTS best university fundraising experience


RTS is a bit different on their homepage, as they chose to hide much of their options in a single collapsible menu.

However, when a supporter clicks on that menu, "Donate Today" is the most prominent button.

When they click that button, it's easy to navigate to the actual donation form.

For RTS, all of the data collection occurs on a single giving page. This is nice because it helps show the supporter how many more steps they need to complete to make a donation.

One great learning you can take from RTS is brand consistency. The color scheme, branding, and language used are consistent across the whole giving experience.

Like the others on this list, their experience is much simpler than many other higher education institutions.

→ Learn how to maximize your university's social media marketing strategy with these 14 tips!

Closing thoughts

RTS giving page for university fundraising

All these examples have an easy-to-find donation button, nice design elements, and simple experiences for supporters.

Unfortunately, many colleges and universities hide their giving buttons. Then, they provide supporters with a poor experience that does not make them want to finish their donation.

Hopefully, these examples have helped give you some ideas about how you can improve your own online giving experience for supporters.

Also, if you want a beautiful donation page like RTS, feel free to contact us!

Here at Anedot, we work with higher education institutions to improve their donation experience for supporters.

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