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How to Provide Donors with a First-Class Online Giving Experience

By Jan McGuire

Imagine you want to take a trip—and it's important to you to make the trip happen. You book your airfare, but you must make multiple connections to get to your destination, no matter which airport you start from. And imagine how you would feel when you unexpectedly find the gate numbers, directions, and signs in each airport are in a language other than your own…if there are any signs at all. Oh yeah, and your connection time is tight—yikes! Imagine the frustration you would feel. You might question if the journey was worth all the trouble.

Now imagine that the traveler is a donor who believes in and wants to support your organization's mission. The journey they must traverse is your online giving page. How many steps do you require them to take when their only goal is to give THEIR money to YOU? How many times are you asking them to input information? Are you doing so in a language they don't understand? Beyond the basics of their name, contact, and payment information, what other "connections" must they make to get to the destination, which, let's not forget, is to give YOU money?

I challenge you to try to find out how often prospective donors start to make a gift on our giving page but abandon the effort because there are too many steps or confusing questions. Here are a few questions to keep in mind to ensure a smooth online giving journey for your donors:

  • Are you asking them unnecessary or confusing questions? (i.e. their constituent ID number, the designation of their gift, or worse, asking them to scroll through dozens of allocations to get the specific fund they'd like to support)

  • Are you using institutional jargon that donors don't understand? Terms like designation, allocation, constituent, and joint recognition make perfect sense to us—we see them daily throughout our work and database. But to our donors – especially first-time and sometime donors—these terms are the equivalent of a language they do not read or speak.

  • Are you giving your donors a first-class experience? They're giving their money to us—it should be effortless. How effortless? It should take a minute or less.

  • What happens after a donor completes their transaction? Do they receive a cold, "Your transaction has been processed"? They've just given to a mission they are passionate about—get them excited about the journey they've just begun with your organization!

Let's face it; once they "travel" with us, we want them to travel with us again and again! We must remember the old adage of "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" as we create and revamp our online giving page. If a prospective donor has a bad experience or abandons our site without making a gift, what are the chances they will ever return? And what other organization receives the prospect's gifts because that organization makes giving easy?

Do you need help and additional insight on how to improve your online giving experience? Or convincing others at your organization that these types of improvements are needed? Join us in July for Baring It All: Competing in the Online Giving Space, where we'll look at the good, the bad, and the ugly and the changes we can make to improve the donor experience and our fundraising efforts.


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