More Than Just a Warm Fuzzy
With just the click of a mouse, shoppers can buy nearly any product online — from groceries to cars, from insurance policies to home loans. And potential donors can form intimate relationships with the nonprofit organizations of their choices — getting information, registering for events and responding to other calls to action, and, ultimately, making donations or, better yet, signing up for automatically deducted monthly giving programs.
So as long as your organization’s Web site is good-looking, easy to navigate, full of useful information and proudly displaying a “Donate Now” button, you should be OK, right?
Not if you want people to actually use that button. Just like consumers expect merchants to not only make their products available on the Web, but also to make paying for them a simple and secure process, donors want to know that their personally identifiable information and banking details are safe with your organization and on your Web site.
A survey by ACNielsen found that the top security concerns of America’s online shoppers include:
*Not receiving the items purchased or receiving items different from what was described.
*E-mail addresses being sold to third parties.
*Fears about personal or financial information being stolen.
*E-mail scams known as “phishing” or “spoofing” in which consumers receive messages from dishonest sources disguised as messages from trusted retailers, financial institutions or nonprofit organizations.
And don’t think the concerns are any different just because your site visitors aren’t technically buying anything. From unclear donor messaging to shoddy follow-through to concerns over being scammed and robbed, your donors are just as worried about their online experiences with you as they are with their online florists, stock brokers and shoe stores.
Assuring Web site visitors
These third-party companies are referred to as trust-seal companies or trust-certification companies. There are different types of trust-seal companies that also have different products. In the end, it all boils down to what your organization’s particular needs are — if you’re a national or international organization, if you have commerce on your Web site or only information, etc.
You don’t want to pay out your nose for a trust seal that is completely unnecessary. Be wary of companies that basically will give their seals to anybody who is willing to pay the annual fee. Reputable firms will require an annual audit of your Web site policies.
Benefits of a trust seal
There are many more upsides than there are downsides when you have a trust seal on your Web site. This is a proven fact — both in customer satisfaction and also statistically.
Trust seals are good guarantees of security, and online visitors are getting increasingly used to seeing them and being assured by their presence. In a time where the call for transparency in all markets — especially in the nonprofit world — has increased, and a potential purchase or donation can disappear with a single click, a trust seal can be that little extra detail that will prevent that from happening.
*Trust-seal companies know about online commerce laws.
*Trust-seal companies know about online ethical demands.
*Trust-seal companies know about privacy and security issues.
*You almost certainly will get a much higher conversion rate (i.e., a click turn into a donation).
More and more organizations are investing money and resources in their ethical and social profiles. By doing so, they send a signal to their supporters that they are serious about conducting lawful and ethically correct business online.
Being awarded with the trust-seal certification is very much about having an ethical attitude toward how the organization intends to act and appear on the Internet.
Most people have no problem giving credit card details to large, online stores like Best Buy, Macy’s or Nordstrom — and to the largest, most reputable nonprofits — simply because they know them and know they’ve been around for a very long time. They know they’re real — and that’s key! But without that longevity — even with it, since the nonprofit world still is fairly new to the concept of raising money online and even the largest organizations lack a real track record —
most organizations need to convince visitors that their Web sites are safe and serious places to trust their information.
How it works
After your Web site has been approved by the trust-seal company, the seal typically will be placed at the bottom of the page. Visitors to your site can click on the mark/icon and will be notified that you basically are who you say you are and that the trust-seal company vouches for the way you do business online. Your name, address and seal-certification details will be shown on this certificate, thus giving the visitor that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with feeling safe about an online transaction. FS
Soren Grau is founder, principal and managing member of Los Angeles-based Internet trust-mark certification company e-icon.