It’s no secret that the world is changing. Including fundraising. Although traditional fundraising approaches are still the most often used in the fundraising landscape, they are less likely to attract new donors or continue to convert donations – especially compared to a decade ago.

In a recent Yump study, we found the most common way (65.2%) people are asked to give donations is over the phone (source). With an ageing population, increasing negative attitudes towards cold-calling, and with 40% of consumers preferring to choose self-service over human contact, the need to improve other channels is evident. So as a digital agency made up of young people, where did we look? Online.

To experience first-hand the online experience of donating, and to use our business as a force for good, we donated to some of Australia’s biggest charities. From what we learnt, we put together a list of 7 things you should consider to increase donations.

1. Keep it clean, simple and convenient

Enabling convenient online donations is a whole lot more than having a simple URL or high SEO ranking in a Google search (though that helps too!). It encompasses the ease, speed and comfort with which users can make online donations.

When designing your interface, remove clutter, and keep it clean, simple and intuitive to increase usability and engagement. This includes giving the user a clear idea of how many steps it takes to make a donation, to set up expectations and reduce abandonment. Use a progress tracker, number your steps, and present content in small, easy-to-read (or scan) chunks.

2. Optimise for mobile

With over 80% of marketers believing that improvements in speed for mobile users increase customer satisfaction, not to mention Millennials being the top smartphone users, keep them happy with an experience optimised for the channel they are already on.

Along with design and UX, prioritise your content for mobile too. Remember, a smaller screen means less room for long copy, big photos and large graphics so be smart about the space you do have. Hint: Less content will also improve page-loading time and it’s a win-win.

3. Make the little things count

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the donor – or something like that! Researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read content by 80% (source). While donation pathways should be easy to understand and move through, they should aim to be visually appealing too.

Beautiful design and dynamic content is instantly more engaging for users, thus making them more likely to donate. It’s also a great opportunity to communicate who your brand is and what you stand for. Moreover, don’t forget simple things like an aesthetically-pleasing layout, colour in headings and subheadings, iconography and CTA design. Little things can make a big impact.

4. Consider personalisation

Data is everywhere and is being captured, in real-time, all the time. Use it to your advantage.
Google’s research found that 90% of marketers reported that personalisation on their website or apps contributed to an increase in revenue. If it’s tried and tested for online shopping, imagine how powerful personalisation could be for charities.

Once a customer has made a donation or two, or simply interacted with your website, you’ll start to build up a bank of their online behaviours and personal data. Over time, you’ll be able to use that insight to customise their experience.

Don’t forget to reward and thank them. This could be in the form of a personalised thank you email post-donation or even a thoughtful gift. (And we’re not just talking physical gifts – enrich their day and link them to a great article, playlist or podcast).

5. Empower choice and informed decision-making

Choice can be powerful or a paradox. As humans, we love having options but too many can lead to paralysis, indecision and abandonment. We know from psychology studies that people generally do not seek out information to inform their decision, but the more empowered or educated they feel, the more likely they are to form an opinion, see value in something and make a decision.

Charities should enhance donors’ options and empower them to choose. This includes:

  1. Presenting options in plain language, and as succinctly as possible.
  2. Establishing an attainable default choice to nudge behaviour (A recent Harvard study found when a default choice is offered, most people do not deviate from it).
  3. Explain the implications of each choice, or provide recommendations. That way your users aren’t guessing but making informed, empowered choices.

6. Establish a sense of urgency

We already know that the average user has a low attention span. When it comes to charity sites, Chartbeat found 55% of users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page. Therefore, you need to make that time count. Not only by making your content visually and emotionally engaging, but make it timely and create a sense of urgency.

A sense of urgency can help donors to act quickly without procrastination or abandonment. In Giving Australia’s 2016 study, 60% of respondents indicated that they generally give on the spur of the moment.

For example, if you’re running a Christmas appeal, made deadlines clear by listing dates but also using clever language in CTAs such as “Donate now”/”Donate today”, and remove it once the season has ended.

7. Prove the impact of the giving

Put simply – show where the money goes. According to the 2016 Giving Australia report, non-profit organisations communicated that outcomes-reporting has an increasingly significant influence on donors’ decisions. People want to know where their money is going, how much of it actually gets there (after fundraising costs and overheads are subtracted) and what impact this creates.

An easy approach to reporting outcomes can be through detailed statistics, charts, maps and stories of beneficiaries. It’s also a good opportunity to use personalisation – by telling users what impact they’ve made in relation to the amount or range they donated.

By making people’s contributions more tangible, you are empowering them with knowledge and encouraging them to donate again which after all, is the ultimate goal.

About the Authors

Yump is an award-winning digital agency that specialises in user experience and website transformation for not-for-profits. We help cause-based organisations dramatically increase user engagement and reduce website management time. Speak to us today about how we can help you.