IDEAS | BLOG

Online Giving is Growing. Is Your Nonprofit Ready?

A strong digital presence and ability to accept online donations is more important that ever for nonprofits worldwide. Simply put: make it easy for your supporters to donate. Create a digital experience that creates confidence and makes them proud to be a part of your mission.

According to Blackbaud’s 2017 Charitable Giving Report, online giving grew 12% in 2017, and 26% of online donations were made from a mobile device. Online giving is more important than ever before. With a steady increase in online giving, here are some important things you can do to make sure your donors can easily give online.

Make the Experience Seamless

The last thing you want is a donor—who’s ready to give—being sent to a web page that loads slowly or renders incorrectly on their smartphone. When someone is ready to donate, all your systems should be in place and working seamlessly. That means that your donate page (and your entire site, frankly) must be responsive, load quickly, require as few steps as possible, and be tested regularly.

If you’re struggling to make this happen, take the time to run through and answer the following questions:

  1. Does your online donation form adapt to all screen sizes (desktop, tablet, smartphone)? Use Google’s Mobile-friendly Test to check your page.
  2. How long does it take for your donate page to load? Check your analytics or use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check this. As a reference, most people leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 
  3. Are there form fields you can live without? Only include the fields that are absolutely necessary. The longer the form, the higher the abandon rate.
  4. Have you conducted usability testing on your donation process in the last six months? Nothing beats watching actual people use your site. Observe five people go through the full donation process using desktop, tablet, and smartphone. I myself learn something new from every single round of usability testing I do, so don’t underestimate the value of doing and redoing this.

Know Your Donors (Existing and Potential!)

It seems so simple, and yet people often skip over this important step. If you want to know what your donors think and prefer, you need to talk to them! Surveys and interviews are the most common forms of market research we recommend.

To get started on this, answer the following set of questions:

  1. Have you sent a donor survey in the last six months? Start with SurveyMonkey’s Donor Feedback Survey Template.
  2. Have you asked donors about their experience? This is a great opportunity to understand how easy or difficult the donation process was, how often they’d prefer to hear from you, and what channels they prefer (email, mail, phone, text, social media).
  3. Have you interviewed donors in the last year? A one-on-one interviews is the best way to dig in and better understand a donor’s behavior and motivation. Why do they give regularly? What made them give the first time? What programs, events, or topics are they most passionate about? What improvements would they like to see? 

Review and Gather Data

Without the numbers, it’s incredibly hard to understand what’s working and what is not. The data points don’t lie! Make sure your analytics are configured properly, you’ve set goals, and you’re communicating your findings.

Questions to ask yourself at this stage:

  1. Is GA set up on your site? I still hear about small nonprofits who don’t have Google Analytics installed on their sites. It’s simple. It’s free. And the data you gather will help you understand what people are actually doing on your site.
  2. Have you set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? It’s hard to make sense of the data if you don’t know your targets. Check out our How-to Guide to KPIs to see what KPIs make the most sense for you.
  3. How successful is your social media presence? Check out Facebook Page Insights or Twitter Analytics. What content gets the highest engagement? What can you learn about your followers on social media?
  4. Are you reviewing your donor and analytics data regularly? Another overlooked step is to share the data you are gathering. It’s important for your teammates to know what’s working and what’s not. Use the data you gather to track progress.

Segment and Optimize

The messaging and design of your donate page can greatly affect your conversion rate. A/B testing can help your team determine which photos or headlines are the most effective. Take the guesswork out of these decisions and gather some data!

Questions to ask yourself at this point:

  1. Have you conducted A/B testing? We’ve found that A/B testing allows us to take a data-informed approach.
  2. Have you created custom donation pages for key donor segments? If your current donate page treats all people the same, try creating a custom page for a specific donor segment (e.g., first-time donors, recurring donors, high-value donors, lapsed donors, former event attendees). This will allow you to test out customized messaging and compare the conversions to your standard page.

Get It Done Soon!

Giving Tuesday is November 27, 2018. That gives you about 8 months to get these updates rolling. We know that #GivingTuesday contributions grew 28% in 2017. And December remains the largest giving month of the year with 18.2% of overall giving.

Looking for Donor Support?

Our digital fundraising specialists are ready to help you whip your online donation game into shape! Contact us for help with usability testing, audience research, analytics, and A/B testing. We want 2018 to be your biggest year yet!