Online fundraising, the digital difference

Portrait of online transactions in Canada

In a report published by The Institute for Nonprofit Studies (based on a survey of Internet use in Canada published by Statistics Canada) online banking and online bill paying continues to grow each year ( 55% in 2005 to 67% in 2010). A Bank of International Settlements study has also revealed that in 2007, Canadians were the second largest users of debit cards in the world, after Sweden.

This trend implies that Canadians have a high degree of comfort with electronic funds transfers and transactions. It also indicates a cultural change that is taking us away from the traditional use of cheques and cash. Because large donations have been made by cheque, and smaller ones usually in cash, the recent adoption of donating via Internet significantly increases opportunities for fundraising for Canadian non-profit organizations.

Fundraisers are increasingly focused on growing online donations but potential donors often complain of complicated systems and poor user experience that deter them from giving online. Despite some of the negative feedback, Blackbaud’s 2011 study of the non-profit industry show that gifts have been steadily growing online since 2009. Another study (Network for Good) revealed that 38.7% of people said they had donated online at least once between 2007 and 2010.

A study of younger donors (age 20-35) showed that 56% preferred a donation online via the website of the organization, while only 21% said they would to do so through to an external (non-branded) site. If you have the resources and capacity to do so, integrate the donation functionality directly onto your website instead of sending visitors to a generic service site. The investment will be worth it.

Do you want it done right, or done right now?

Too often websites are designed in haste and without clearly defining its objectives. This is in part related to the fact that organizations do not have well defined strategic direction for the organization or have not revised their mission, vision and values ​​for several years.

6 actions to ensure your success:

  • Define the objectives of each main section of the site
  • Understanding your visitors needs and interests
  • Engage your visitors
  • Have a professional design that is easy to navigate
  • Create interesting and creative content
  • Measure results and adjust/make updates regularly

Your online donation form

In an effort to keep the process as simple as possible, consider the following points:

Ask only the minimum information

Your donors are there to support you with a financial contribution, not to disclose a long list of information. Get only the information you need.

Indicate progress

If your donation process requires several steps over several pages, try to reduce the amount of information requested. If this is not possible, indicate the stage at which the donor is at in the process so that he does not give up.

Explain each field

Be sure to state the purpose of each field in the donation process. Indicate the name of each field and provide a clear explanation (if necessary) to avoid confusion.

Use a static donate button

You never know when a visitor will be inspired to donate to your organization. When he decides to give his support, be sure that he can find the form quickly and easily.

Create a donate button that stands out

It should be different from other tabs in your site and immediately attract attention. Remember to put it in the top right of the main menu, on every page. This will ensure that visitors will know exactly where to click if they want to give.

Clearly display your financial information

A recent study revealed that 74% of individuals and 80% of financial advisors (who make suggestions of donations to their clients) want to see financial information before any other information on your site.

To ensure you get their attention:
Before they donate, inform potential donors that their contribution can make. Show that each contribution will allow your organization to truly help the community you serve.

After: Share how donations were spent. Donors want to know that the money provided had an impact. Tell them how you used their gift and let them know of the change your organization was able to create thanks to their contribution.

Show the impact instead of writing it

Picture and video content is much more convincing than simply describing the results of your efforts. Instead of telling your donors how you make a difference, show them. Use photos, videos, and infographics about who or what is affected by the donations. The more compelling the stories, the more they will resonate with your audience and those who support you.

Measure, analyze and adjust to improve the process

If the online donation functionality is integrated into your site, chances are that you are able to integrate it into your web analytics tool. You should also make sure it connects directly it to your database to reduce additional administrative work per transaction. By integrating analytics, you will better know visitor behaviour and can make more informed decisions on how best to adapt your website to facilitate the donation process in the future. Plan ahead, get with the program, do what you have to do to get on the online donation bandwagon! You won’t regret the investment.