Fundraising Website Checkup

It’s a good idea to tweak and improve, or set up your fundraising website now, before the major fundraising activities start in the Fall. We have several articles on raising funds online on this topic, but would like to also point out the results of the donorCentrics™ Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis.

According to this analysis online giving is growing rapidly with many donors still giving offline as well. Well-designed non-profit websites are very useful for attracting new donors and encouraging ‘small-scale impulse giving’, but less effective at sustaining long-term donor relationships.

So how can you make sure you attract as many new donors as possible, collect some funds at the same time and get the most out of your group’s website?


Website check-up


According to the study, only 43% of sites that were analyzed prominently displayed the organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work. Having your mission, goals, objectives easily found by the visitor will create instant trust. Take a look at your website: can the visitors to your website easily find this information?

Also according to the study only 4% of the websites analyzed had information about how donations and contributions were used displayed in a way that was easy to find by the visitors. Again, this information will create trust when a potential donors is trying to decide if they should donate through your website. Make it easy for them!

In addition to analyzing what factors successfully resulted in user contributions, the study also analyzed the turn-off factors that caused visitors to leave without donating, even if they had spent considerable time on their websites.

The donation-killers:

– 47% of issues were usability problems relating to page and site design, including unintuitive information architecture, cluttered pages, and confusing workflow.

– Amazingly, on 17% of the sites, users couldn’t find where to make a donation. You’d imagine that donation-dependent sites would at least get that one design element right, but banner-blindness or over-formatting caused people to overlook some donation buttons.

– 53% were content issues related to writing for the Web, including unclear or missing information and confusing terms.

Websites of local chapters of a national/international charity offer bad user experience

The study also found that bad user experience was caused by inferior integration of local chapters with the higher-level organization.

When users were seeking information about a non-profit’s activities in their communities, usually local chapter websites looked completely different than the organizations’ main sites, often not even following the same color scheme as the main website. If you run a website of a local chapter of a major charity, be sure to integrate the same colors for unified look-and-feel easy brand recognition.

More key findings from the 2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis:

Online giving still represents a relatively small portion of donors and revenue at most organizations, but it is growing rapidly and is becoming an important source for new donor acquisition.

Online donors are younger and have higher incomes than traditional direct mail donors. These are important constituents that nonprofits very much want to attract and keep, given the older average donor age in many files.

Online donors give larger gifts and, as a result, have a higher overall long-term value than donors to more traditional giving channels like direct mail, but they are less loyal in terms of repeat giving. Higher average gifts mask the lower retention rates of online donors, which may present an opportunity for improvement at many organizations.

The online giving channel must be an integrated part of an entire direct marketing program because although offline donors do not generally migrate to online giving, online donors do migrate to offline channels in large numbers. In addition, online donors tend to downgrade when they move offline, further evidence that online donors are not cultivated to their full potential.

If you feel your group’s website hasn’t been very useful or hasn’t attracted the amount of donations you’ve hoped for, maybe now is the time for a usability makeover. Take an honest look at the site or page, get third party opinions and decide if you can make changes yourself, or you should maybe even hire someone to build the site from scratch.

Going forward, a well built site that’s easy for the visitor to navigate and contains all the crucial information will elicit trust and result in more donors and funds for your group. (Tip: you might be able to partner with a webdesign company to do the website for free in turn for free advertising. Read Free Web Services For Your Non-Profit for more info.)

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