Individual donations are the lifeblood of nonprofits, big and small. They’re particularly critical to start-up and small nonprofits relying on the grassroots efforts of their supporters to fund their programs and increase their impact.
So, why is it so hard to give them money?
Take this story I heard recently from a colleague:
“I had a great conversation with someone from a local nonprofit and I wanted to show my support and get more involved by making a gift.
I went to their website and filled in my donation information only to get an error message. I tried again. Same error message. I even had my husband try. He couldn’t make a gift either.
I tried to call their office and ask for help. When I called, their phone directory had three options: enter the extension of your party; directory by last name; or leave a message in their general mailbox. No way to talk to a real person.
I check their website, hoping to get the last name of someone in their development department. No online directory. No way to contact anyone at the organization.
In short, there was no way for me to make the gift online or via phone.”
This story isn’t an anomaly. I once worked at an organization where we discovered that no one had been checking our general “info@” email. When we did...we found more than one question from donors trying to complete donations. They never heard back from us. They never gave.
Nonprofit donation forms see an abandonment rate of 50% to 70%! That means more than half of people who click on the “donate” button don’t actually make their gift.
Making your website donor-centric and easy to use doesn’t have to be a huge project. These five best practices will help ensure that when donors land on your website, they’re able to make a gift and invest in your organization.
1) Make your donation button very easy to find
It should be very, very easy for a potential donor to find your “Donate” button on your home page. Don’t lose a gift because your Donate button is hard to locate, or in a drop-down menu under another section of your site. Can you really expect a donor to click through multiple pages of your website just to find where to make their donation? Make sure your Donate button is:
“Above the Fold” and immediately visible on the top part of your website so it isn’t cut off by different sized computer monitors.
Easily visible as soon as a donor lands on your website (bonus points if it’s another color than other buttons!)
Ideally, in more than one place on your home page.
In the same place on every page of your website. It should be as easy for someone to hit “donate” from your About page as it is from your Home page.
2) Keep your donation forms simple
Every step of making a gift should be simple for your donors. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to your actual donation page! If your donors find your donation form hard to use they’ll probably give up.
Make your donation form uncluttered, minimal, and easy to read with short, concise text and simple branding.
Embed your donation page into your website so donors don’t have to click through multiple pages before they enter their information. Reduce the number of times they need to navigate to a new page to reduce the risk they get confused and abandon the gift.
Only ask for the information you need, and get rid of extraneous fields. Asking less questions and having less fields to fill out may lead to more gifts.
The shorter and simpler your form is, the more donors will actually make it to the end to submit their gift.
3) Optimize for all devices
Your donation form should be accessible - and optimized - on all possible platforms: computer, tablet, or phone. And, it should be as easy and painless to donate on a phone as it is on a computer.
Most donation forms make it easy to optimize for mobile, and many of them do it automatically. Test your donate form from different devices to make sure it’s easy to donate on the go.
4)Make it easy for donors to get their questions answered
If a donor has a question about their donation it should be easy for them to connect with a member of your team. Otherwise you lose a donation but gain a disgruntled donor. Make sure that when someone reaches out to your organization, whether via phone, email, or social media, that they get the answers they need.
Instead of a phone tree that includes a directory by last name, make it easy for callers to connect to each department (this has the added bonus of being easier to maintain especially if you have frequent staff turnover).
And - critically - make sure that someone is monitoring and answering your general “info@” email address, Facebook messages, and anywhere else someone might submit general inquiries.
Don’t forget, every question that a donor asks is an opportunity to engage with them further and deep their relationship with your organization.
5) Make Your Donation Experience Donor-Centric
Just because a donor has successfully made a gift doesn’t mean your work is over. Far from it! Now is the time to continue to engage with them and provide them the opportunity to learn more about your organization and how y'o’ll use their gift. Use your donor confirmation page, thank you email, and thank you letter not just as stewardship opportunities, but as a way to cultivate donors for their next gift.
After a donor makes a gift, the confirmation page should do more than thank them for their gift. Add content such as a video, link to learn more, or upcoming events so they can continue learning about what you do.
The automated email confirmation they receive should also say more than thank you! Include a constituent profile, ways to get involved, and more.
A donor-centric thank you letter should be sent within two business days.
Treating your donation confirmation and thank you letters as part of the donation process will make you stand out as a nonprofit who really values your donor relationships, and increase your renewal rate!
P.S. I got so excited writing this blog post I launched a new service to help you refresh your online giving experience. Giant Squid Group blog readers can schedule an Online Giving Assessment for just $150! Email me at email@example.com to schedule your Online Giving Assessment and kick off 2019 with great online fundraising.