Online charitable giving continues to be on the rise. These five guidelines, based on extensive user testing, will help ensure your website encourages donations.
According to Blackbaud’s 2015 Charitable Giving Report, online giving now represents 7.1% of total giving. For comparison, e-commerce sales are 7.5% of U.S. retail sales. As Americans’ comfort level with online transactions continues to grow, non-profits will reap the benefit in increased online giving.
The research group Nielsen Norman has probably done more user testing of nonprofit’s sites than anyone. They’ve distilled their learnings down to five guidelines.
1. Clearly Explain What the Organization Does
The most important piece of information site visitors want to know is what you do and how you do it. In the Nielsen Norman studies, this information was often enough to convince a prospect to make a gift. Make sure it is clear, concise and easy to find — front and center on your homepage.
2. Disclose How Donations Are Used
The second most desired piece of information visitors wanted was how the organization used donations. Visitors who couldn’t find this were frustrated and were prone to believe the organization was purposefully hiding bad news. Find ways to show transparency with how you use funds. This might be a pie chart that shows your efficiency or that links to financial accountability documents, like your Annual Report and Form 990.
3. Display Third-Party Endorsements
Visitors want to know if an organization is credible before donating to it. Include endorsements and ratings prominently to show your organization has a legitimate reputation. Include logos from Charity Navigator, BBB, and ECFA; high-profile endorsements; and a statement of how long you’ve been in service.
4. Provide a Noticeable and Clear Link to Donate
After visitors in the study were convinced that they wanted to make a donation to an organization, they found it surprisingly difficult to figure out how to donate. In fact, 25% of the sites in the study didn’t even have a Donate call to action. Make your donation button easy to find and understand on every page of your site. In our experience, nothing beats a button labeled DONATE NOW that takes visitors directly to the first step in the donation process.
5. Streamline the Donation Process
Once you’ve gotten someone to your donation process make donating as easy as possible. We’ve written before about our process for optimizing donation pages. But optimization never ends. No matter how good your conversion rate is, there are ways to make the process better and the rewards for optimization are well worth the effort in the short and long term.
How well does your site do at encouraging donations?
The online giving trend is only going to continue. Complete this short evaluation of your organization’s website to find out if you’re ready: