Your 2017 New Year Resolution — Make it Easier for Donors to Give

For many nonprofits and churches, January is the start of a new fiscal year and when many groups start the year fresh with new plans, goals, dreams, and organizational resolutions. December can be a very busy month for many groups and hopefully you saw a flood of steady donations and sincere interest in your mission. The first few weeks of January might be slower than usual in terms of donations and activities as people regroup from the holidays, but it is a great time to review and prepare for weeks ahead as you move into the new year of your fundraising strategies.

One easy and practical resolution you can make for your nonprofit or church is to do some easy house cleaning to ensure that it is especially easy for donors to find you and make a donation. During the last few weeks of December, I personally visited 50-60 different nonprofit/faith-based websites and giving pages to see how easy it would be to either get information or make a donation. I found this activity to be educational, eye-opening, and at times frustrating as a potential donor or someone wanting to learn more about an organization.

After reviewing some of the personal notes I made of both the good websites and those that need improvement, I have come up with three simple things you can do right now to kick-off the new year in the right direction while helping to make your donor interaction with your organization a positive experience.

Review Your Website

One of the most common mistakes organizations are making that can cost donations and interest are those using old websites that are outdated, lack information, and are hard to navigate. Your website does not need to be fancy, and you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on it, but its design should be easy to navigate. Of the 60 or so websites that I looked at in December, close to 10% of the organizations had outdated information, and in some cases, I could not find simple information such as a mission statement, who they serve, or even a contact person for more information. Donors and potential donors do not want to spend lots of time trying to figure you out, so it is important that you make it easy for them by including a simple call-to-action with how to donate. Several of the sites I visited all made me search really hard for the ‘donate now’ page — in some cases there wasn’t even a button or link!

Check for Broken Links

Over the holidays, I received a number of invitations to donate from a variety of organizations. Some were ones I have a personal history with and others I saw through social media (think Facebook and Twitter!). I came across eight different invitations where the link was either broken or the page did not exist. FYI — this is an immediate turnoff and I simply did not want to spend more time trying to figure out another option. A few of the broken links came from newsletters, and other times I was sent to the wrong page. Please, take the time to make sure your links work in all formats (website, Twitter, MailChimp, etc.) when asking donors to respond. Also, be sure and test all formats (not just when you send it out) and check on it a few times during the duration of the campaign or promotion.

Evaluate Your Online Donation Process

Have you reviewed your donation process recently? This is a good practice to be doing on a regular basis. First, are you using a processing platform that gives you the most “bang” for your buck? Nothing frustrates donors more than finding out that you and the donor are both paying high processing fees.

Also, is the donor experience a positive one? I made two donations in December to different organizations, and I still have not received any confirmation of any kind. I am not talking about a thank you here, folks, just a confirmation from the nonprofit! Be sure that your automated features are working and are as personal as possible. This means including the donor’s name and not a generic greeting like “dear friend.”

Finally, try and use a credit card processing tool where the donor does not feel like they are leaving your website and going to a third party. Many online giving pages and credit card processing features will allow you to build them into your own web pages so that the donors feel like they are giving to you and not a third party. In the industry, this is called white labeling.

Hopefully, one of your New Year resolutions for 2017 includes raising more money! If so, make sure you or someone in your organization is taking the time to clean, check, and review all the ways in which people are interacting and communicating with your organization.

Happy fundraising in 2017!

Eric Burgess serves as Aplos’ Marketing Director and is passionate about all things digital media. When he’s not writing searchable content for churches and nonprofits to find online, he’s likely spending time with his family or out riding his downhill mountain bike in the Sierra Nevada mountains somewhere. Oh, and he's deathly allergic to tree nuts.

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