Before Sending a Fundraising Appeal Do This, Not That
When is the last time you asked someone who didn’t know your organization to go to your website and try to make a donation? Do it! Why? Because your donate button shouldn’t be as hard to find as the button in the traditional children’s game. It should be easy to spot, on just about every page. And it should work!
Sadly, too many nonprofits don’t make it easy enough for supporters to give to them. They think they’re making it easy, but they miss some things that are pretty simple to fix.
I was recently on a charity website, and half of their “donate now “buttons and/or links gave me error messages. Some worked; but too many didn’t. On another site, I had to click three times before I was actually able to make a donation. That’s two clicks too many. On a third, I was able to give, but I couldn’t earmark my gift for the program I cared about.
Your online donation page(s) should mirror your remit pieces and give donors the same options. It’s not sufficient to have check boxes on just your direct mail. Everybody who’s anybody these days is going to charity websites to make their donations online. It’s not just for young folk. A majority of donors age 60+ give online — and, once engaged online, will continue to use this channel — and more frequently— than younger donors (according to research by Dunham + Company ).
Also check to be sure your website is upfront about security. Donors care about this. And please take down any outdated information. If your Gala happened three months ago, don’t keep the option of donating to it on your donation page.
You may think you know how your website works, and how it may be perceived by prospective supporters. Be SURE you do.
P.S. You’ll of course want to cross-promote your online donation pages in all your offline communications – newsletter, annual report, direct mail, etc. Just be certain that your donate buttons and online donation pages are functioning optimally before you start promoting.
If you ask a ‘stranger’ to navigate your website to make a donation, please share what you learned from the experience. I’ve found that whatever problem one of us have, it’s likely 10 more of us have the same problem! Let’s learn from each other.
why are so many charities in the past? I haven't seen an up to date website for a nonprofit that didn't have a large bankroll ie red cross. It makes me feel that the services the charities are providing aren't current to the needs of their beneficiaries either
Thanks for your comment Humberto. You make an excellent point. Many nonprofits are strapped for resources, and simply feel they don't have staff or funds to allocate to things like updating the website. As you comment clarifies, this is a penny-wise and pound-foolish strategy.
Just learned of some research that shows that “Donate Now” buttons that stand out from your website’s overall color scheme result in more online dollars raised because online donors can’t help but notice them. For example, if your website and your logo use two colors, pick a third color that coordinates well with them for your “Donate Now” button. Again, your “Donate Now” button should be visible and obvious on every page on your website. Design it into your website’s template or navigation bar.
Your “Donate Now” landing page should be as simple as possible and clutter-free. In just a few sentences, let donors know how their donations will support your mission and programs and feature one powerful image or video that speaks to your work and progress. Be sure to mention that donations are tax-deductible. If you have positive ratings from Charity Navigator and the BBB, feature those graphics in the margins or along the bottom of the page. Neatly align all required fields for contact and credit card information, and double-space between fields and line breaks. Donors also appreciate simple pie charts that show how much is spent on programs vs. operations—as long the chart reflects that at least 75 percent of your budget goes directly to programs. Charity Navigator reports that 7 out 10 nonprofits in theUnited Statesdo meet that minimum benchmark.