Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+5Share on LinkedIn1Pin on Pinterest73

donatenowEach year I select 31 Favorite Nonprofits to which I donate 10% of my webinar income. Part of the reason is a commitment to altruism, but I also use (for lack of a better word) these 31 nonprofits to study how nonprofits are progressing in online fundraising, social media and mobile communications. That said, over the last few days I donated $25 to each of this year’s 31 Favorite Nonprofits and was dismayed to see that most of the nonprofits are not successfully integrating social media and mobile communications into their “Donate Now” process. I realize, however, that much of the reason is due to limitations imposed by the “Donate Now” service provider that they are using. As a result, the online donation process for most of these nonprofits seems to be stagnating and stuck in the best practices that ruled in 2006. For that reason I am actively seeking leads on “Donate Now” service providers that are innovating  and keeping up with technology so I can promote them to nonprofits in my blog and webinars.

All that said, when I donated to the 31 nonprofits there were eight basic criteria I was looking for in the donation process. I am not sure how useful this information is to nonprofits. By no means is this a scientific study with a large pool of data, but at the very least you can compare your nonprofit’s “Donate Now” process to this year’s 31 Favorite Nonprofits which range from small, local nonprofits to large, international nonprofits.

1) The “Donate Now” button was prominently featured on the nonprofit’s home page requiring only 2-3 seconds to locate.

Results: 28 of the 31 nonprofits had very easy to find “Donate Now” buttons (or text-based links) on the home page. The best buttons were those that were a bright color and grabbed my attention immediately. The three nonprofits that did not have “Donate Now” buttons on their home page buried the process under tabs or pop-downs menus entitled “Support Us” or “How You Can Help” which for some donors may cause frustration. Also, for the record, I am definitely an advocate of using a “Donate Now” button over a text-based link.

2) If the “Donate Now” process was embedded inside of the nonprofit’s website i.e., the donor was not sent to a third-party website where the donor had to sign up or join the third-party website to make the donation.

Results: 25 of the 31 nonprofits had the donation process entirely embedded inside their website. That’s good because recent data from Network for Good indicates that 6X more money is raised through branded “Donate Now” pages.

3) How many pages I had to click through to complete the donation.

Results: I am believer that some donors will drop out of the donation process if it is overly complicated or time-consuming. Muchos kudos to the nonprofits that kept the donation process limited to one or two pages with only minimal data required to donate (name, mailing/billing address, and credit card information). After clicking the “Donate Now” button:

13 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process on one page.
10 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in two pages.
3 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in three pages.
1 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in four pages.
1 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in five pages.
1 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in six pages.
1 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in seven pages
1 of the 31 nonprofits enabled donors to complete the donation process in nine pages.

4) If the nonprofit had a default donation amount set on the “Donate Now” page.

Results: A few years back I read a study that claimed that a $25 default donation amount results in more money raised online. I can’t find the study now, but my instinct tells me that choosing an amount that isn’t too small or too large has impact on the total amount a nonprofit raises online. Whether not having a default donation amount set improves or hampers results – sorry, I don’t have that data, but Idealware has some advice on the subject. That said:

21 of the 31 nonprofits had not set a default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $10 default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $15 default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $20 default donation amount.
2 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $25 default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $50 default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $100 default donation amount.
1 of the 31 nonprofits had set a $1,000 default donation amount.

5) If the nonprofit required a phone number to make the donation.

Results: Some donors will drop out of the donation process if they think the nonprofit will start calling them asking them to donate more. I know until I got the idea to enter a fake phone number, I would often drop out of the donation process if a phone number was required. That said, 18 of the nonprofits did not require a phone number to make on online donation. 13 did.

6) If the “Thank You for Your Donation” landing page included social networking icons or pitches to “Like” or “Follow” or “Join” the nonprofit on the Social Web and/or a “Thank You” video or slideshow.

Results: These are the results that broke my heart, figuratively speaking. Only four of the 31 nonprofits had added social networking icons or a social media pitch to their “Thank You for Your Donation” landing page and only one nonprofit had a “Thank You” video.

Social Networking Icons on the “Thank You for Your Donation” Landing Page
National Campaign to Protect Social Security & Medicare

NCPSSM

Social Media Pitch on the “Thank You for Your Donation” Landing Page
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

TaskForce

“Thank You” Video on the “Thank You for Your Donation” Landing Page
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta)

petavideothanks


7) If the follow-up “Thank You for Your Donation” email included social networking icons or pitches to “Like” or “Follow” or “Join” the nonprofit on the Social Web and/or a “Thank You” video or slideshow.

Results: Only five of the 31 nonprofits included social networking icons or pitches to “Like” or “Follow” or “Join” their nonprofits on the Social Web in their follow-up “Thank You for Your Donation” email. None included a “Thank You” video or slideshow. That said, only two of the 31 nonprofits had the icons or pitch on both their landing pages and in their follow-up emails:

Social Networking Icons in the Follow-Up “Thank You for Your Donation” Email
National Campaign to Protect Social Security & Medicare

npcssmemail

Social Media Pitch in the Follow-Up “Thank You for Your Donation” Email
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

taskforceemail


8) If the donor was prompted to opt-in to receive text alerts (if applicable) from the nonprofit during the “Donate Now” process.

Results: Only one of the 31 nonprofits had included an opt-in to subscribe to receive text alerts during the “Donate Now” process. That said, I am only aware of two of the 31 nonprofits that are utilizing text messaging in their mobile communications and fundraising strategy.

Text Alert Opt-In During “Donate Now” Process
10×10 Campaign

10X10


Other findings:

* Only one of the 31 nonprofits had all of the above – the National Campaign to Protect Social Security & Medicare, but full-disclosure – that’s likely because we worked together on a social media audit in 2012. The NCPSSM is very familiar with my advice on the subject. Runner-ups were charity: water and Peta.

* The donation process for two of the 31 nonprofits didn’t work. For some reason my donations were immediately refunded by my credit card company. Yikes. This could have been happening for days or weeks which is why it’s important for a nonprofit to donate $10 to itself at least once a month to make sure the donation process is working correctly.

* Four of the 31 nonprofits were using PayPal which can be problematic. Some donors are confused when they are prompted to create a PayPal account to make a donation. It’s not actually a requirement to create a PayPal account to donate, but PayPal hides that fact a bit. They have a vested interest in donors creating PayPal accounts. PayPal is inexpensive, but it’s tool set is very limited.

* Finally, an honorable mention for design goes to charity: water. The vast majority of “Thank You for Your Donation” landing pages and follow-up emails lack visuals and are overloaded with text and white space. Not the case with charity: water. Since their launch in 2006 they have always understood and mastered the power of good design:

charity: water “Thank You for Your Donation” Landing Page

charitywaterlandingpage

charity: water Follow-Up “Thank You for Your Donation” Email

charitywaterreceipt

Related Links:
Webinar: Online Fundraising and e-Newsletters for Nonprofits
Seeking Feedback from Nonprofits: Does This “Donate Now” Service Provider Exist?