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Making Online Giving Easier and More Fun

Resource Center - Foundation

(Jan. 24, 2012) While many organizations understand that it is important to have a prominent “donate” button on their website, it’s just as important to pay attention to what happens after they click that button.

UK digital marketing agency Nomensa reports that nearly half of people who begin to make an online gift to an organization stop before completing their donation. They suggest a four-stage approach for creating a powerful online donation journey: Engage, Nudge, Support and Reward.

Engagement means catching people’s attention and beginning an emotional connection with the cause and can be done online or offline.

Nomensa says that often it is not made clear exactly where a person’s donation will go. In other words, who will it help and how? They suggest adding a “what we do” section that is easily found and offers a specific explanation of how a donation helps.

It is also beneficial, they say, to be transparent about where the money goes in terms of fundraising/overhead costs and program support. For example, a UK children’s hospital in their study has a graphic that explains “From every 1£ you give us we spend 87p to benefit children and use the remaining 13p to raise the next 1£.” The facts are accompanied by a pie chart.

Compelling Donation Pages

It’s also important for a website homepage, at first glance, to convey the very real need your organization has for donations. Explain, if appropriate, that your organization does not receive government funding, state how many people you serve, the number waiting to be served, etc.

At the Nudge stage, the features and elements of the donation page comes into play by subtly offering a deeper explanation of the organization’s work through words and images. “The design must catch more than the donor’s eye; it must begin to touch the heart.”

At this stage, organizations can “nudge” donors by suggesting a donation amount, offering monthly or recurring giving options, or even providing alternative ways to donate if they do not wish to give online.

Organizations cannot count on the fact that a donation will be completed once the “donate now” button is clicked. The journey is really only beginning.

Cutting the Red Tape

In the support stage, the donor either has a simple and clear process set before them, or they feel like they are facing more and more steps with no end in sight. Do you tell people up front how many steps are in the process and then let them know when they reach each stage? Have you streamlined the process as much as possible? Or, do you ask for so much information in required fields and ask so many questions that a donor simply loses interest in giving?

Finally, in the Reward stage, you should offer a positive thank-you message and encourage the donor to engage further, in non-monetary ways, such as a “like” on Facebook, volunteering or spreading the word about the organization to friends and family.

Donors should have an easy time donating from start to finish. In this use, the word “easy” means more than simply streamlining the donation process. It means making the online giving journey clear and simple, trustworthy and secure, informative and transparent, and even—dare we say it?—enjoyable.

For additional suggestions for honing your organization’s online donation process, go to and download the report titled Charities Fail to Make Online Impact.

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