The Science of Improving Online Donations
Anyone on social media sees the requests for help. Someone’s friend finds herself in a tight spot, or a group they work with is seeking online donations for a building fund, so they post a message about it and include a link where we can give a couple dollars to help. It is crowdfunding, and it works.
One of the reasons is donors can easily see where their money is going. The need is specific and the donation is direct. There is no “general fund” to worry about. The bigger reason crowdfunding works is because it is easy. A couple of clicks and a donation is made.
The question becomes, if we like our online giving to be easy, why aren't more organizations simplifying the online giving experience to make it easier for people to give?
Making It Easier for the Donor to Give Online
The truth is, there’s money to be had. Only 57 percent of potential donors are giving. This means $36 billion is being left on the table. Out of those that do give, 75 percent are on social media and 61 percent prefer to give online.
Thanks to companies like Amazon, with its single-click purchases and hassle-free returns, people have come to expect simplicity and ease from online transactions. That includes the donation experience.
Luckily, there are some proven scientific laws developed by leading behavioral scientists that can help us simplify the online giving process.
Hick’s Law: Remove Unnecessary Options
When a person is ready to make a donation, but has too many options available of equal hierarchy, they can suffer from analysis paralysis. According to Hick's Law, when you increase the number of choices, you also increase the decision time as well as the chance that the person will leave without making a donation.
This is why, when you create a donation form, you want to consider the fields that are nice to have versus the ones that are essential for a donation to occur. Any extra fields that you do not need should be removed to decrease your abandon rate.
Miller’s Law: Keep Relevant Information Together
Miller's Law shows us that people remember information in chunks. When applied to donation forms, you need to keep the relevant information within a logical group so that it is easier for the user to absorb. Doing so will increase the chance of the person filling out the donation form.
While Miller's Law is different than Hick's Law, they can both be used in conjunction. Hick's Law addresses the time and effort required to make a choice, while Miller's Law is about memorability and focus. Applied together, these can improve effort, speed and time it takes for a user to fill out a donation form.
Fitt’s Law: Make the Buttons Big
Have you ever tried to use an online form with your phone and found the buttons almost impossibly small to press? Fitt's Law tells us that the time needed to rapidly move to a specific area of the screen is a function of the distance to the target along with the size of the target.
Now, how does that help us improve donations? The bigger and closer a donation button is to the call-to-action the faster and easier it is for a person to push it.
From the perspective of donation forms, you want to make bigger and easier to use donation buttons so that donors are less likely to get frustrated when using a mobile device. This design style will also help your form stand out.
Use Single Column Donation Forms
Eye tracking studies and A/B tests have shown us that single-column donation forms are easier, faster and more likely to be completed than having a multi-column form. People are more likely to complete a single column form. According to the CXL Institute, single column forms are also faster to complete.
Limit the Number of Steps
When a person starts your donation process, how many clicks will it take them to complete their donation? According to one survey, 65 percent of organizations surveyed made their online donors click at least three times.
Increasing the number of steps required to complete the donation form also increases your donation drop-offs. To improve donations, use the minimum number of steps possible to make a donation.
Every organization wants to do more. You need money to do that. Increasingly, that money is online. If you want to boost your online donations you need to make the giving process easy. By following some established rules of human behavior, you can modify your embedded forms and accelerate your impact on the world.