Digital fundraising | Top Tips

5 ways to improve online donations

Digital has provided charities with a whole new way to spread the word about their causes. But very few charities have a seamless and convincing online donations process. How can you optimise your potential donor's online giving experience, and receive more donations as a result?

By Reason Digital · March 27, 2015

People are lazy

55% of visits to online news articles last for 15 seconds or less. So imagine what someone’s tolerance is for a website where they have to give their own money. Therefore you have to keep the process as short, sharp and concise as possible.

Take out any surplus fields such as telephone number and consider whether you really want to ask your donor whether they want to opt in for marketing emails. Also, pre-select any options that you want the donor to select, such as £15 instead of £5 or monthly donations rather than one-off donations. This means that it’s up to the user to change away from the default.

Tangibility and transparency

It’s estimated that UK charities lose out on over £650 million per year due to a perceived lack of transparency. Therefore it’s your job as a charity to convince your donors of your trustworthiness. You need to tell them three things:

  • How you’re going to spend their money, for instance on a mosquito net for a child in Nigeria.
  • How you plan not to spend their money, for example on your CEO’s holiday.
  • Where you plan to spend their money, whether locally, nationally or internationally.

A lot of donor’s will get cold feet as they go through the donations process, so it’s your job to warm their feet up again. You need to give them tangible evidence of the vital difference that their funds will make.

Storytelling; not statistics

Donating to charity is an emotional action, not a rational one, and the best way to appeal to this emotionality is through empathy. And the best way to appeal to this empathy is through narrative storytelling. 56% of those who support non-profits on social media state that compelling storytelling is what motivates them to take a charitable action.

A great example of this is Steven’s Story, a blog written by a teenage cancer sufferer. This communicated the human nature of the issue much more than large scale statistics would ever have done.

It’s all in the eyes

We all know how powerful images and symbols can be – most of us think of Aid’s awareness when we see the red ribbon. Images of humans can be particularly effective at communicating this, as it makes the situation seem more human to us.

Researchers have found that placing an image of watching eyes near a charity collection jar increased average donation amount by 500%. They argue that this is due to a desire to be seen as generous.

Encourage sociability

Three of the most successful charity campaigns of the last year all have one common theme. The Ice Bucket Challenge, the #NoMakeupSelfie and the continued success of Movember have all relied either on nominations or taking socially conspicuous actions. The question is, how can we harness this to improve our own online donations? the answer is social proof – encouraging people to encourage others.

39% of people whose friends posted about a charitable donation on social media subsequently donated themselves. This can be applied to your online donations forms in two ways. First of all, show a trend for donations as this increase both trust and momentum in your cause. Second of all, give your donor the opportunity to show off on social media after their donation, as this can turn one donation into many.

So, to improve your online donations process; make it short and sharp, make it transparent, tell a story, include images of eyes and encourage your donors to encourage others to donate and you’ll be sure to increase your online donations.

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