Why Donors Don’t Donate On Your Web Site

Usability, or lack thereof, is one of my pet peeves. The other day I was hopping around some of the big nonprofit sites to see how they were handling their donation user experience. I thought that perhaps there would be some best practices that I could glean and share with my clients. It didn’t take long to discover that most nonprofits do everything that they can to discourage would-be donors from making a donation. One particular site that stood out the most had no fewer than 11 screens that the poor, helpless potential donor would have to click through in order to make a donation. Can you believe it, 11 screens! I guess that they wanted to make sure that the donor was really, really, really serious about making a donation.

So you don’t make the same mistake, consider these following best practices:

  • It’s all about the experience. Making a donation has a completely different feel than ordering tchotchkes from Amazon. Do away with the online store feel and try to create a one-to-one relationship between each project and the associated donation response form.

  • Less clicks, more dollars. There is a direct correlation between the number of clicks that you put between a user and goal and conversion rate. The technical term for this is called Funnel Abandonment or Checkout Abandonment. Try to limit the number of screens that the user must click through in order to complete the donation. If at all possible, enable the user to complete the donation on the same page that prompted it.

  • Um, can I have a little help here? If you do have a multi-step check out process, clearly communicate that to the user. Provide some frame of reference as to where they are in the check out process and when the torturous form-filling will end. Give them clear directions as to what information is required and optional, and for the sake of everything holy, provide the user with coherent and easily identifiable error messages.

  • You have not, because you ask not. We recently launched a microsite for a client that included a free resource offer for users that filled out a registration form. The goal was purely name acquisition. About a month into the campaign we added an option for users to also make a donation through the form. That simple little change translated into thousands of “extra” dollars and did not affect the conversion rate for the form whatsoever. Whenever appropriate, add a donation option to registration or name acquisition forms.

  • No, I don’t remember my password! Putting a login screen between a user and a donation form is like putting an obstacle course between a grocery shopper and the check out lane. It seems like a good idea—after all, once the donor sets up their account all of their information will be saved, right? Wrong! I learned this lesson the hard way. Trust me, don’t do it.

Although this is not a comprehensive list, by following these best practices you will be helping to make the online donation experience a positive one.


Post a Comment