Online 'Pledging' — It Just Isn't Worth It
Hi, Marc …
When talking with leaders from churches or nonprofits beginning to consider mobile, they almost always wanted a “Donate Now” feature. I questioned the wisdom of this because I didn’t see that just being on a mobile site somehow triggered the urge to donate.
I can see the utility of having a donate feature tied to an event-specific mobile site — say a fundraising dinner — where a speaker can ask the attendees to access the site now and do their donation thing. But even there, since most people would have to use a credit card, wouldn’t the physical mechanics argue against much success? Wouldn’t people prefer to give through a desktop computer?
Now on the other hand, a “pledge” action, where the people indicate their commitment to make a donation, seems to be perhaps a better model.
As a website professional, I feel somewhat ill-equipped to guide these clients to making the right “choice,” and I thought I’d ask the professional for his opinion.
— Sincerely, Thinking Technologically
Dear Thinking Technologically,
A pledge option would stink. Totally stink. Online pledges waste everyone’s time. Here’s why:
- The nonprofit has to follow up. Often multiple times.
- The donors … er … “pledgers” can get annoyed. Once the emotion wears off, they may not even remember pledging.
- The donors who do remember may still have a hard time actually getting around to making the gift. So they put it off …
- … leading to the nonprofit issuing more “bill collector”-like pledge reminders.
This isn’t a great donor-retention strategy. This wastes a lot of communication that could be much more productive thanking a donor rather than reminding a pledger.
Online donations are where it’s at
People online want to give online, not by mail or phone. They’ll type in their credit card numbers. But they want to give now and move on with their lives. (Our online attention spans are about the size of a gnat’s.)