Once you’ve spent the time and effort putting together a savvy strategy for soliciting online donations, how can you be sure you are providing soon-to-be-online-donors with a stress-free, barrier-free donation experience? Here are a few things to consider before you “go live” with your solicitation.
Barrier #1–Email can be perceived as “bulk” or lacking a personal touch
Solution: You already have a database with plenty of information about your donors–use it to your benefit when sending e-mail solicitations. Be sure to personalize both the e-mail message and the online experience by using database variables. Speak to them by name and–as appropriate to the message being sent–include giving status, personal interest, YTD giving / amount, acknowledge past utilization of their gifts, etc.
Barrier #2– Online whiplash & form fatigue
Solution: Avoid the “whiplash” that can occur when your giving page doesn’t match what the donor saw on the appeal. Don’t give them any reason to question if they are in the correct place to make their gift. Custom giving pages should be designed based on the appeal, be specific to “the ask,” and re-communicate the appeal within the online form. To cut down on form fatigue, pre-populate the donor information you already have in your database along with the specific ask amount.
Barrier #3–Third-party giving / collection software
Solution: Avoid using any software that requires your donor to register in order to give a gift (Pay-Pal is one example). You might believe that you are getting a good deal for the organization, but if the process cannot be well-integrated with your appeal, you could lose potential gifts along the way. Also consider whose name shows up on the receipt, if it’s not the name of your organization it may cause confusion and lead the donor to dispute the charge or cancel the credit card because they fear the number has been stolen.
Barrier #4–Thank appropriately based on donation amount
Solution: It may not be the barrier to THIS gift but it could be a barrier to the next one. Are you thanking your donors in the same way for a $5 gift as you are for a $5000 gift? If so, you could be perceived as insincere on both ends of the spectrum. Be sure to use appropriate language and a level of follow-up that clearly communicates your appreciation for their gift.
Barrier #5–Processing donations through shopping cart software
Solution: For best results, use custom forms and online giving software. Shopping cart software is for online stores. It is designed with language about shopping and purchasing, not donating, giving or supporting an organization. It may seem like a minor thing, but you could be creating confusion and an unnecessary barrier to receiving the gift.