Oh, you don’t want to keep them away?
I know you’re working hard right now to make the most of the last few weeks of the year. Your website is an important part of the plan.
But are you seeing with your donors’ eyes?
You might be surprised to learn how easy it is to put up barriers to giving.
Every item on this list happens to perfectly nice organizations on their perfectly nice websites.
So beneath, I’ve included some suggestions for the people who DON’T want to keep their donors away.
1. Make sure all is happy on the homepage.
Does your homepage show why a donation is needed and what a donor could make happen? Does it show a problem the donor can solve?
Or is it all happiness?
I know you want your organization to look good. But if it looks so good that the problem is solved, there’s no need for a donation or a donor. Make sure your message isn’t “don’t worry – we’ve got this!” Better to show the problem and invite the donor to solve it.
2. Keep fundraising to a minimum – especially on the homepage.
I know this page gets political. Everyone wants to highlight their department’s work. Staff end up elbowing each other for a starring role on the website.
But this isn’t about ego, or what makes your organization look best. It’s really about what makes your site most useful for visitors.
Do you know who visits? People may come to the site for more than making a donation. Information, for instance.
But if a donor visits the site, considering a donation, what will he find there?
Even if you have to share space during the year, consider making the homepage all about giving this month – or at least for the final week of the month.
3. Make sure any donate buttons or links are tastefully blended with the site.
No, not really. Have someone who doesn’t know your website take a look.
Can they find a way to give easily? Is there a donate button prominently placed? How about a menu link?
If your button isn’t found easily when you test it, consider making it more obvious. A brighter, different color. You want it to be easy for anyone to spot immediately.
4. Be sure to educate your donor thoroughly about why she should give.
Once she clicks that link, can you donor make a gift immediately? Or is she taken to a page full of text, explaining why the gift is important?
If she’s ready to give, get out of the way. She doesn’t need to read all about your organization!
If you walked into an auto salesroom and said you were ready to buy a car, would you want the salesperson to spend another half hour telling you why you should buy it?
You should make your case on the website. You should make information available to anyone who needs it.
But your “donate” button should take a person right to the donation form.
5. Use your donation form to collect all the information you want.
How long is your donation form? Does it go into two pages?
Pare it down! Ask for only what you need to process the gift.
I know you want to know everything about this donor. But that’s your job after the gift. You need to develop the relationship and learn everything over time.
At this point, you haven’t earned it yet. Make it easy.
Captchas – just don’t.
6. Monthly giving is too confusing. Don’t offer it.
Offering both a one-time and monthly option might take some good design to keep it clear. But don’t let that stand in the way of offering the option.
7. Keep your confirmation page is business-like.
Is yours dull and formal? Or does it confirm – emotionally – that the donor made a great choice?
Don’t leave your donor wondering. “Did my gift go through OK?” Or “Are they thrilled about it? Did it matter? Do I matter?”
You can find some good ideas and examples here on Bloomerang’s blog.
You need to answer all those questions right away. Make the page and your email auto-response warm and personal, not officious or robotic.
And remember the page doesn’t take the place of the thank you letter you’ll be sending, pronto, right?
Online giving doesn’t rule yet.
But it’s certainly growing. Make sure your website can do its job and your donors will want to use it!
Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire