Thank you to the charities that made it easy for me to donate online. Especially since I left it to the last day before June 30. Even though some of you did send me letters and emails throughout May and June asking for gifts.
Despite my best intentions to give earlier, I found myself scrambling on June 29 to actually donate. (I also wondered whether I’d get a tax invoice dated appropriately to claim my tax deduction in that financial year).
That being the case, I was really, really grateful when I found charity websites that:
- Removed frustration and made the giving process easy
- Made me feel the charity was being courteous and considerate of my feelings as a donor.
Rather than a straight fundraising analysis, this is a post about how charity donation pages made me feel as a donor.
So here’s what you did that made me love you.
1. Prominent donation buttons and appeals on web pages
It’s hard to believe that some charities still think a Donate button hidden in a submenu is an acceptable way to get people giving online. (Yes, I found some of those.)
That’s why it was a relief to visit charity homepages that have highly visible Donate buttons or even Donate boxes. Click! There’s more information and the donation form. I like not having to hunt to donate.
Some websites divide the home page according to audience. So you pick Services, Volunteer or Donate. No trouble figuring out where to go there.
Others feature multiple appeals on the home page. Thumbs up there. If running a specific campaign, dedicated appeal pages are a must. You really shouldn’t send donors to a generic Support Us page.
Perhaps some non-profits had too many appeals on their home page. But there was certainly no difficulty with finding a place to donate from.
2. Single page form
Oh the joy of a single page donation form.
I can see all the information you want from me in one hit. I don’t have to wait endlessly for screens to load each time I click Next.
If I omit a field or get it wrong, I only get the red warning once. Instead of “You have not filled in the XYZ field” on every – single – screen.
And if your system gets it wrong, spits the dummy or otherwise finds “something went wrong with this request”, I only have to fill in one screen again. Not three. Or four. Or five.
3. Specific dollar handles
Maybe it’s just because I work in fundraising myself. But I really liked it when you gave me an option such as:
$60 will provide enough seeds and tools to feed five families in a remote village
Because I spend a lot of time figuring out such dollar handles for clients, I found my own reaction to this type of messaging very interesting. I liked having this picture of what my gift could do – but get this – even if I didn’t actually select that option and specified my own gift amount.
Remember, as a fundraiser, I actually know my gift will go into a general pool of funds. In other words, I know I’m being sold. But I liked it all the same.
I just didn’t get the same warm and fuzzy feeling when you presented me with the options to give $50, $100, $500 or $1000.
4. Giving donors options to allocate funds to a specific program or project
Even if I didn’t pick a specific program, I appreciated the fact you gave me a choice. It made me feel my gift wasn’t going to disappear in the admin part of your general funds.
5. Giving donors options to be on a mailing list
Several charities offered options to receive further communications. But the ones who stood out were those who went very specific.
Would you like to receive:
☐ Crazy Animals Newsletter
☐ Appeal information
☐ Information about the Spring Animal Trail Hunt
☐ Invitation to Animal Frenzy Gala Night
☐ No mail
It was nice to be asked what I wanted. I felt you were being considerate of my feelings. Rather than inundating me with every single piece of communication you have to throw at me in the next year.
6. Warm, friendly confirmation screens
In many cases, confirmation screens after I’d finished donating did little else than confirm a successful transaction.
Rarely did I see a nice message of appreciation that didn’t sound like the default text that came out of the software box. So when I did, I actually took time to read it.
As well as saying thank you for my gift, a very few charity websites had nice words like:
We’re greatly encouraged by your gift.
Or made an effort to reinforce how my gift would be used:
Your generous donation helps to keep homeless people off the streets.
Your gift helps provide a poor mother with a loan and small business skills that helps her whole family. This maximises the impact of your donation.
Read more here about dry and boring confirmation screens (point 6).
7. Options to engage further from the confirmation screen
I was very surprised that hardly any charities invited me to further engage with them through the confirmation screen. No pointers to other appeals. No links to information that may interest me. No invitations to subscribe to a blog or newsletter.
In fact, I’d suggest an invitation to receive a newsletter could be more appropriate here than as a checkbox during the donation process. It cuts out a step in the giving process. A small step, sure, but the fewer steps involved in giving the better. That would be interesting to test. But I digress.
A couple of charities provided links back to their home page from their confirmation screens. Another sent me to a page telling me where my money goes and invited me to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
But by far the best engagement option I saw on a confirmation screen was the non-profit that said:
Just before you go, we’d love for you to spend 30 seconds to tell us what XYZ Charity means to you. What impact has it had on you? Why did you make this donation today?
Then there was a box underneath for the donor to type in some text.
I love this because it’s asking the donor for honest feedback. It’s not asking the donor to do anything that’s obviously going to lead to another ask.
I also love the wording “we’d love for you to spend 30 seconds…” Everyone is busy but most people can spare 30 seconds to type in a few words.
Also, for this non-profit, it was a great way to gather feedback and possible testimonials for future appeals.
What do you think? Please share your experiences with online donation pages below.
Also see 6 no-nos for online donation pages.