Nonprofits by and large have embraced online donations as a standard part of their fundraising mix. But from our experience working with hundreds of nonprofits the evidence shows most are stuck at or below 10% of their total funds raised coming from online sources.
But donor giving patterns and preferences are changing. Donors of all ages are increasingly comfortable giving online. In fact, in 2013 more baby boomers gave online than gave via direct mail. Donors also expect nonprofits to provide the user friendly experience of e-commerce sites. In usability tests conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group, they found that while “people have high expectations of nonprofit and charity websites,” it takes shoppers an average of 3:58 minutes to checkout when purchasing online, but 4:15 minutes for donors to complete an online donation.
Nonprofits that provide an optimized donation experience are growing their online revenue both in dollars and as a percentage of total revenue.
The Nielsen Norman Group offered five recommendations for how nonprofits can improve the online giving experience to increase online donations. We believe these are solid recommendations and provide the basic foundation all nonprofits should adopt.
- Provide a Clear Explanation of the Organization’s Mission
- Show Where the Money Goes
- Feature High Profile Endorsements
- Provide a Clear Donation Link
- Make the Donation Process Quick and Easy
5 Additional Practical Steps to Improve Online Revenue (or Increase Online Donations)
While these five fundamentals are important and essential, we have five more to share to really ensure your online donation process is optimized for the donor experience.
1. Request Only Essential Information
Decide what information is absolutely crucial for you to have before someone makes a donation or registers. The reason so many forms have three or more clicks is because organizations ask for information that is a nice-to-have but not relevant to the task at hand. Adding additional fields adds time to the donation process thus increasing the interaction cost.
2. Pay Attention to Your Ask Array
Use data to determine your ask amounts, ask order, and any default/pre-selected amount. Have a testing plan to test open asks, ask amounts, and giving options like sustained giving, impact of a gift, etc.
3. Add a Donation Form To Your Home Page
Don’t make your donors click a button to get to a form on a separate page. The more clicks you throw in their path, the more friction you create; studies have shown that 50% of visitors drop out of the process on each click to a new page. For example, PBS affiliate KLRU in Austin provides a drop-down donation form on their home page that is activated when a donor clicks on the donation tab. This practice provides and a direct donation path for supporters ready to donate.
4. Make Use of Contextual Messaging
Provide contextual messages adjacent to your donation forms to reinforce your message and motivate your prospective donor to complete the transaction. This could be an emotional video about your mission reminding supporters exactly why they’re donating.
5. Remove Distractions
Remove distracting and unnecessary add-ons, such as you organization’s overall navigation bar, and any links that take your potential supporter away from the donation page, etc.
Your Next Steps
With the above ten recommendations, five from the Norman Nielsen Group, and five from Kimbia’s consulting and professional services team, you are now armed with practical, proven and tested ways to increase online donations, and make an important impact on your nonprofit’s revenue.
We’d love to hear from you on how things progress!