A Monthly Giving How-To: Test Your Forms
As a fundraising consultant, I’m always learning and researching. I do this by working with clients, vendor partners, databases, payment processors and so much more. I have many answers, but not all.
That’s why I enjoy the research and experiments NextAfter does, especially when it comes to donation forms and emails.
Even a small change can make a huge difference when it comes to donations and monthly gifts. Of course, every organization is different, so what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. That’s why you should always test new things.
I see many nonprofits do just that, but then they sometimes forget to test the form for completion. Pretend to be a donor. Ask someone who’s not as engrossed in creating new forms as you are.
Have them make a donation and see what happens. And make sure you do this before you go live.
Yes, I realize you’re excited when you’ve spent all this time finding the right pictures, the right amounts to ask for, the right look and feel of your forms and how it fits with your website, etc.
You’re ready to roll, just before the deadline, right? But do yourself a favor and take just a few more extra minutes and test your form.
I recently experienced firsthand how important that is. Whenever I start working with a new client, I make a monthly gift to see what it’s doing.
When I did this recently, the form worked just fine, but when I received the confirmation, it told me this was for three months. Wait, what? I didn’t sign up just for three months.
When I checked with the organization, it turns out it had an end date turned on in the backend. Of course, it immediately turned it off, so moving forward, this will not happen again.
But for donors who already signed up to give monthly, the organization had to contact them to ask them to opt into a new form without an end date, or ask donors for permission to update the form for them.
Fortunately, the organization caught it early. But had it tested its forms before going live, it would have seen the confirmation email earlier.
So always test your forms, and make sure your confirmation emails, landing page etc., are all saying exactly what you want them to say. And then make sure that the information from your forms feeds into your database the correct way, so you don’t have any problems later.
Take an extra half hour before going live, and test your form(s). You’ll prevent a lot of trouble later. You’ll keep your monthly donors a lot longer, and you can focus on getting as many people to go to your form and sign up, so you’ll grow your program to the next level.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.