3 Ways to Make Online Donors Feel Safe

In my last post I shared 5 tips for optimizing your website for donations based on Nielsen Norman’s extensive user research. There is a 6th element users also want before donating: security.

A recent study from Bizrate Insights found that nearly 2/3 of American shoppers “don’t trust retailers with their payment and personal information.” No surprise — especially after data breaches at large retail companies like Home Depot and Target.

If donors don’t feel comfortable sharing their confidential information on your website, they won’t. Here are 3 ways your site can help online donors feel safe:

1. SSL Certificate
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypts information the moment it’s entered. An SSL Certificate is essential for protecting users’ personal data and can be purchased from providers like VeriSign, GeoTrust and Thawte.

A couple things can signify an SSL Certificate. Look at your donation page URL. There should be a “s” after the http. This stands for secure. Browsers will also often show a little green padlock in the address bar. This is an example of how Chrome shows it:


2. Trust Symbols
Some users might not notice the extra “s” in the URL, so it’s important to add other larger symbols of security throughout the donation process. Often times your SSL Certificate provider or donation page platform will have icons available.


But don’t feel limited. Anyone with Photoshop can make a shield, padlock or icon that reassures your site’s users that their donations are 100% secure.

3. Good Design
Users are looking at every aspect of your site for clues that they should trust you with their personal information. If your donation process is poorly designed, it will erode trust. Examples of poor design can range from a dated look, which might signal that you aren’t current with security methods, to mistakes like misspellings or misaligned form fields that communicate you might be careless.

Many forms don’t do a good job of communicating when the user has made an error. This can leave users unsure about what happened as well as feeling concerned that their information is somehow unsafe. Usability testing on your give form will help you to find and fix these issues.

Take a look at your donation page today. Would you feel secure submitting your personal information? Do you see any opportunities to make donors feel even more secure?