Knowing what donors want is a science because sometimes one word, one photo, even a font can influence a donor in a specific way. This is where A/B testing comes in handy, testing small changes to gauge their impact on the donation process. But you may not be ready for that level of campaign dissection, so we’ve offered some broader experiments to help boost your nonprofit’s online donations.
1. Set up a cool landing page
In this example from One, they have a main header with links to an important report and a petition, campaign graphics that can be easily shared via social media, success stories, and the latest campaign news from their social media feeds. I can’t express how important it is to create graphics that can be easily shared. I wanted to promote a local autism walk on several client sites (they are participating in the walk) and I was unable to find one single graphic with the event date and time that could be used to promote the event; I had to either create one from scratch myself and I’m pretty sure most people would not have gone to that much effort. Never underestimate how much your constituents will want to help you!
2. Place your fundraising goals front and center
Seeing the goal on your website and visually showing progress toward that goal can still be a big factor in getting additional donations. Don’t restrict yourself to the traditional thermometer – be different – use a graphic that coordinates with your campaign theme. in this example, the graphic is very modern and reminiscent of a loading bar. Make sure it updates automatically so you don’t have to worry about it, and so donors can immediately see how their donation gets you closer to the goal. Check with your webmaster about designing a custom goal tracker that fits with your campaign theme and helps you track donations live.
3. Make some portion of your text look like handwriting
We see this all the time in printed direct mail letters, usually the P.S., designed to look like a casual handwritten personal note. Using it in your online donation form can create the same personal feeling! Note that big fonts are in, and that whatever handwriting font you use needs to be really readable so nothing too fancy. An orange or orange-red color is the perfect action color to make it stand out without looking cheap/discounted (which can happen when you use a straight red).
4. Get the money shot and use it everywhere
My favorite place to use your perfect photo is in a popup on the main page that directs traffic to your donation / campaign page. Meals on Wheels captured a great shot of a woman receiving her meal with the message: “The greatest gift you can give is nourishment.” You can use the same photo with different messages or a series of coordinating photos with the same or similar messages on your website, in social media and in your printed direct mail piece.
5. Conduct some simple marketing research
Think about adding 1-2 questions at the bottom of your donation form.This will give you some valuable data that you can use either for next year’s campaign or help you adjust your current campaign in progress to target your donors more accurately. Plus this JDRF example also very nicely starts the donation form at the top of the page; by placing the intro text to the left of the form, the form is immediately visible so people can start the donation process immediately if they are ready to go…
6. Focus heavily on monthly giving
Instead of adding a little bit of text with a checkbox below the donation amount, try making your monthly giving options equally as prominent or even defaulting to monthly giving. We all know it’s too easy to lose donors after a one-time donation, so even a monthly donor at a smaller amount can reap more rewards long-term.
7. Ask for a little bit extra
Some nonprofits are recouping their credit card costs by asking the donor to cover them. You have to be careful with how this one is worded; you don’t want it to sound like you are nickel and diming the donor unnecessarily. But it could work to encourage a little bit extra that can add up over time. I would recommend doing some A/B testing on this one to see if it will work for you- testing a couple of different ways to word it and testing donation forms with the extra ask and without.
8. Show people where their money could go
Donors will always want to know where there money goes – both before and after they donate – and this is where I think a lot of nonprofits fall flat. A listing of projects and items that are needed within each project can encourage a donor to donate a specific amount without having to designate funds specifically for that program.
9. Let donors direct exactly where the funds will go
I believe donors will be more likely to give if they have a say in where the donation goes – this way you are more likely to really match up a donor’s interests with a specific program you offer. The donor gets that extra warm fuzzy feeling as they support something they truly believe in.
10. Show off your Paypal option
Paypal is still one of the easiest and most popular payment options, so it’s time to bring it out of the closet. Paypal is safe and secure and it’s just really easy to use. Most nonprofits offer both a credit card checkout and a Paypal checkout. Paypal offers a virtual terminal with the ability to add a credit card reader that plugs into your computer. You can also accept checks and use a card swiper.
11. Create campaign messaging and/or a theme to use in all your campaign materials
That message can be your campaign title and can have even more impact if it has it’s own branding / identity. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is using “I am more than pink” as their campaign message and they’ve created it as a separate identity from their main brand, but tied it together with the familiar pink ribbon person.
12. Have a donation amount default selected
Most nonprofits leave the $25 amount pre-selected; but let’s get braver with that amount. Try defaulting the donation amount to something more in the mid-range of your donation options. Even better, default the form to an amount not even listed in your options (but still mid-range) which essentially extends your options without adding more big buttons. Or you can gently guide people toward a specific amount by saying “most people give….” like Planned Parenthood does.
13. Offer thank you gifts
I call this the Millennial Option because I’ve noticed that millennials gravitate toward donations that include gifts. If you offer gifts, don’t forget to offer the option for the donor to refuse the gift, and set minimum donation requirements in order to receive a gift. In the example below, donors get one gift if they commit to $10 or more per month and another gift if they make a one-time donation of $50 or more.
14. Use current news and events to drive donations
This can be a little tricky especially when touching on the topics of religion and politics or in the wake of serous traumatic event or natural disaster, But it can work if you are careful in your wording, make sure you have a true connection to the topic, and you know your constituents. Some nonprofits are currently focusing on President-Elect Trump (and the uncertainty of what his presidency holds) to gather extra support for their causes.