Going Beyond the Donate Button
The “Donate” button, for all too many organizations, is the Alpha and Omega — the beginning and end — of their online fundraising efforts. But such an unimaginative view leaves thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of dollars worth of potential donations lying on the table.
Since online fundraising became an option, nonprofits have raised hundreds of millions of dollars through new media tools and technologies. And research constantly suggests that online donations and donors are increasing by the month.
Median dollars raised online grew 27 percent between 2005 and 2006. The average amount raised jumped 40 percent from 2003 to 2005, with the number of online donors doubling during the last three years.
In one recent online benchmark study, M+R Strategic Services reviewers Karen Matheson, Eve Fox and Michael Ward stated, “One point is perfectly clear: The Internet is the place for nonprofits to invest!”
The secret to successful online fundraising is the integration of technology and narrative. Technology simply serves to deliver your compelling stories in a variety of formats, from your Web site to video and audio to mobile phones. Despite all the latest technological advances, the old fundraising axiom still holds true: “People give to people.”
So what’s wrong with the “Donate” button? Nothing … and everything.
Consider your own experience of browsing a “competitor’s” site — or even your own organization’s site. Sometimes you can’t even find the “Donate” button, and when you do, it is, at best, an incredibly passive ask. It does nothing to find or motivate potential donors; it just sits there waiting for supporters to find it.
Clicking on the “Donate” button more often than not precedes an unpleasant online experience that tries the patience and perseverance of even the most dedicated contributor. It takes you to a page where you are instructed to wade through a long list of donation options or to click — yet again — to download a form that you must print out, then fill in by hand, stuff into an envelope and then find a 41 cent (or Forever) stamp to mail it. (I have had this experience first hand with several well-known membership organizations!)