As the cost of living is rising, society is tightening its purse strings and charities are starting to feel the brunt of this, we take a look at 5 key areas to address to make sure you are making the most of your charity’s website.

1 Messaging – clearly state core message

We all know having a clear message that gets to the heart of your cause is important, but have you considered evaluating yours recently?

It’s worth reminding ourselves…

A core message is key to getting across why supporting your cause is vital, in just a few words. The message content can form the foundation to your organisation having a strong voice and position within the charity sector.

Take a moment to check that when people visit your website, the message is simple to understand and interpret from a supporter’s point of view. Are you telling them clearly what you are doing or what you want them to do?

2 Show who benefits from the donation – put the donation into context

Point 1 leads nicely on to point 2… you know how important support and donations to your charity are, but do the visitors to your website know?

With your website being your shop-window, billboard, rostrum all in one, make sure it is stating exactly where donations are going. As this gives great opportunity for visitors to think about donating more than they had originally considered.

An effective way to doing this is to put a definitive figure against an action or activity the charity undertakes. The YMCA does this well with their ‘Sponsor a room’ donation page. There the image on their website changes with the change of donation amount chosen, and the adjoining text explains what each amount will provide.   

This not only gives context to donation amounts you are requesting, but also reinforces your charity’s cause. Do be mindful when asking for given amounts as visitors to the site could be turned off or feel ‘bullied’ into giving more than they can afford. This can be overcome by enabling the option to also donate ‘an other’ amount.

A great way to ensure you’re optimising your charity website content and maximising donation opportunities, is to A/B test alternative amounts to judge the most appealing amounts for your audiences. And remember, your audience are varied, therefore targeted campaigns dependent on your various supporter demographics are essential.

It is incredibly important to be transparent on how donations are used. Consider using graphics on your website to demonstrate, in a simple way, how a supporter’s donation is apportioned.

Another way of contextualising a donation is to compare what a donor is spending on ‘trivial’ items… eg. By donating £X is the same as X coffees bought on the way to work a week! Putting monetary levels into context like this can help people understand the imbalance and how easy it is to make a real difference for little cost.

3 Offer something in return – keep the relationship going

Which brings us nicely on to our 3rd point.

Offering something in return doesn’t automatically mean you need to go out and find merchandise to brand, bulk buy boxes of chocolates or drain Amazon of their gift vouchers.

A simple thank you is the most basic form of offering something back to the donor, but can easily be forgotten!

Your charity most likely has both one-off donations as well as supporters who give regularly. But what if you’re missing a trick with turning one-off donors into more regular supporters, simply because you don’t follow up their donation with a thank you?

Donors who feel un- or under-appreciated will remain (or become!) one-time donors. The fact that they have chosen your charity as the cause of choice is a great thing. By sending a thank you by email offers a great opportunity to continue engagement with that donor and also offer onward relationship journeys. (We’ll come to that later!)

Or are you thanking donors more publicly on your website? Within the restrictions of GDPR of course, a public thank you not only recognises the supporter, but this can help to strengthen potential donors’ convictions to invest their time or money to support your cause.

Do you have a good mix of content on your website (eg. useful information, real-life stories? It is important to consider your audience and what will interest them. Therefore, analysis of visitors to your website is crucial to ensure your content is relevant to them. A supporter may be donating as your charity’s cause may directly affect them or a loved one, and they are keen to understand more. The content you provide on your website can be invaluable to some of your visitors, check that you are keeping it current and relevant.

Also consider the wording and phrasing within your website. Try to add focus on your donors rather than purely on what the charity achieves e.g. ‘your donations provide…’ sounds much better than ‘we provide…’

Remember, by connecting with supporters on a regular basis will show how you value them, their support and their donations. Strengthening your existing donor relationship is more important and easier to maintain than pursuing new donations.

4 Easy donor journey – remove the noise

Firstly, your donate button should stand out and make it present on every page of your website… if it doesn’t, this is a fundamental necessity and a very quick win!

Keep it simple, keep it short.

Once the visitor hits your donation page, how straightforward and focused is it?

Do not have any distractions on your donation page that can draw the visitor away from the donations process, ie, remove the noise or clutter around a donation process.

Make sure you are keeping additional activity you want to offer to the visitor to after they’ve donated. The onward journey is important, but as it indicates… it should be an onward journey after donation, not a sideways alternative path during the donation process!

And on a par with a straightforward donation process, it’s vital to keep it as short as possible. Avoid click fatigue. We have seen that is one of the main reasons for drop-off or failures to fully donate. As a consumer, ask yourself, how many pages / fields do you want to plough through to get to the end of a payment process? Probably not many!

Consider what information you are asking of the donor and question whether you do need that amount of data from them. Remember, data is only going to be useful if you intend to and know how you’re going to effectively use it.

Do you really need a donor’s date of birth? Maybe if you plan to send them a message of thanks or such on their birthday but generally… no. Trivial questions simply generate ‘click fatigue’ and potential loss of the donation and supporter. Reduce the number of clicks required and fields to complete as far as possible. Ideally, a donation form should be no longer than a web page.

It’s also advantageous to provide an auto-fill where possible. Postcode address look-ups and hiding unnecessary fields dependent on what a donor clicks are all great ways to reduce the donation process.

And of course, it’s vital that any form is mobile optimised. If you consider the amount of both web browsing and transactional activity done via mobiles, especially by the younger / next generations, then it would be foolish for any charity to be ignoring the mobile-savvy audience.

These suggestions may seem obvious, but we often see many donation forms that are cluttered with distracting content or excessive question fields!

5 Onward journey – keep supporters engaged

I said we’d come to it later, and here we are… the onward journey.

Hopefully a visit to your website and a user-friendly donation process ultimately creates a donation to your charity, However I’d hope you’re not thinking it ends there!

Your thank you message following a donation should certainly signpost to other ways a donor can support the charity, e.g. volunteering or considering in memory or legacy donations. Check there is signposting within the message!

Back on your website, do you encourage visitors to sign up to your newsletter at every opportunity? Make sure you have a call to action like sign up or donate buttons on every page.

Have you thought about asking your donors questions? They are obviously interested or even passionate about your cause, therefore you shouldn’t hold back on an opportunity to gain feedback which can then help you develop your website content to suit a like-minded audience.

Ensure you maximise this activity by utilising your social media accounts, where things like asking for feedback or advertising events can then be shared further afield by your donors. Don’t be afraid to ask them to!

And why not get your donors involved in blog posts? Ask them to write a post for you. This not only engages them further but will help with the ‘real life’ content that is integral to your website. Asking why they decided to donate to your organisation or perhaps the way the charity has personally impacted their lives will not only make the donor feel more appreciated, but will likely resonate with other potential supporters.

To summarise…

A simple core message, relevant and fresh content, saying thank you, involving the supporter in your cause and a focused donation form will all help to deliver an engaging website to ensure visitor retention and donation creation.

The goDonate online donations platform offers a succinct, dynamic, mobile optimised donation journey, which seamlessly integrates into your website. Find out more on how goDonate could help enhance the user experience on your website by clicking the button below.

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