Optimize, Test, Repeat
Online fundraising isn’t just a “nice to have” addition to your organization’s fundraising activities. It’s a primary driver of overall fundraising success. Nonprofits now recruit more first-time and higher lifetime value donors through the Web, as well as social and mobile media, than through offline channels. And because it raises brand awareness, multiplies campaign response rates and develops a deeper donor relationship, online fundraising also inspires many offline gifts, including multimillion-dollar ones.
Since the cycle of recruiting these new high-value supporters and moving them up the donor pyramid to major gifts and bequests starts with an online donation, nonprofits have to be very effective at online fundraising. They must: 1) ensure a superior experience for the online donor; and 2) continue to optimize that experience through regular testing and analysis.
Too often nonprofits unwittingly interrupt the process of recruiting new online donors and securing those critical first gifts. The problem invariably stems from not having clear online fundraising goals. The results of fuzzy goals are confusing donor experiences and higher donor abandonment. Is your goal to get the most gifts at the highest amount, bring in the maximum number of new donors at any gift level in order to get their e-mail addresses for donor cultivation or verify the effectiveness of your communication program focused on increasing the lifetime value of your relationships? Or is your purpose something else entirely?
Whatever your goal is, make sure everything on your donation page — background information, value proposition, call to action, Web form questions, navigation, etc. — advances the goal and doesn’t complicate gift giving or create “friction.” Examples of friction include asking visitors to jump through unnecessary hoops in the donation process such as sharing their estate commitments, entering solicitor codes so you can properly attribute the gift in your database or following lengthy navigation with too many links. These types of tasks encourage your donors to click away and leave the page.