The ability to smoothly process online donations is of crucial importance for nonprofits today. In many ways, the online space is now the most central space. If there’s a snag in any of your online donation processing tools, your entire giving revenue stream could be disrupted for days or even weeks at a time. This can be especially troubling for smaller organizations without dedicated technology teams.
Many nonprofits aren’t highly tech-oriented, so diagnosing and solving online donation processing issues can seem intimidating at first glance. Oftentimes, though, these problems can be solved without a developer. That’s because either a solution will be much simpler than initially expected, or because the problem had more to do with user experience than with any technical issue.
As with any technological issue, a problem with processing nonprofit donations may be solved by identifying both its real root and the resources you’ll need to either correct or avoid it. If your nonprofit is experiencing a mysterious dip in online donations but hasn’t significantly changed any of its campaigning or marketing habits, first identify the issue and then try one of the following solutions:
1. High abandonment rate? Optimize your entire donation page to boost user experience.
Abandonment is the rate at which donors start to complete a donation to your nonprofit but then, for whatever reason, change their minds and close the page. A high abandonment rate is a serious issue that requires smart action.
If you’ve used nonprofit analytics tools to identify abandonment as a considerable issue in your online donation process, you’re probably now desperate to know its cause.
Remember, poor online user experience is a major contributor to donor abandonment. Put simply, an unintuitive or clunky donation page is a huge turn-off for donors who might be pressed for time or who decided to make a donation impulsively.
If you suspect that your outdated donation page might be to blame, take the time to make some updates or a complete overhaul. Following a few donation and campaign page best practices will go a long way to improve donor experience, plus those pages will look more professional.
A modern donation page should be efficient, intuitive, and flexible. Follow these core guidelines when optimizing your donation page:
- Minimize the number of fields for donors to complete: Keep it to a bare minimum.
- Clearly link from your other pages: Donors should be directed to a single donation page from anywhere on your site to keep your link structure organized.
- Remove any unnecessary design: Keep your visual brand present but unobtrusive.
- Provide some extra tools but don’t let them clutter the page: Recurring donation options, matching gift search tools, and email newsletter signups are good examples.
Most importantly, put yourself in your donors’ position and walk through the donation process. Is there anything that loads too slowly, distracts your attention, or wastes your time? Remove or change it.
Simply updating or redesigning your donation page can provide the user experience boost you need to reduce a high donor abandonment rate.
2. Complaints or generally poor performance? Examine some analytics to identify the snag.
Have you received any complaints that your donation page is difficult to find? Or have you noticed a general dip in online donations not clearly linked to a rising abandonment rate?
For challenges like these, you need to take a look at your web analytics.
You structure your fundraising and marketing campaigns to create a conversion funnel through which general supporters will be converted to committed donors. Think of your website and donation page in similar terms. After all, they should be serving the same purpose.
To identify the snag in your online donation process that might be generating complaints, start by examining the different web traffic sources that direct users to your donation page. That is, where are online users clicking on the links that take them to your donation page?
Online analytics tools and services can make it easy to find all the sources that generate web traffic to a specific page and then sort them by volume.
If your organization takes the time to report and record this kind of historical data, you can quickly identify which source is causing a dip in traffic and completed donations. For instance, you might have links to your donation page:
- On your donation appeal emails: Lower than average clickthrough rates from fundraising emails might mean you need to rethink your appeal strategy.
- On your homepage’s banner or header: A dip in traffic from your homepage could mean a formatting error has affected the link.
- On your social media pages: If social media followers have stopped clicking through to your donation page, examine your engagement strategy and check the page’s settings.
These are some fairly basic examples, but checking traffic sources and tracking historic volume data for your donation page is a great best practice for heading off any challenges before they become major issues.
If your organization is new to these kinds of strategies, be sure to start your research with some smart analytics resources.
3. Have to redirect to an external donation site? Embed your own donation form internally.
Many nonprofit organizations use donation processing services that require them to direct their donors to an external site. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, it can lead to major issues since donors can become confused or (rightfully) suspicious whenever a website directs them to an external payment service that could be handled internally.
A dip in your completed online donations could be the result of not hosting your own donation tools internally, or maybe your external donation processing service has made updates that reduced its ease-of-use and created a poor user experience. Creating and embedding your own customized donation forms into your website is the perfect solution to let you be in control of how donors experience the donation process.
Find embeddable donation form tools that allow you to include custom options, like:
- Fully customizable information fields
- Preset donation amounts
- Credit card and bank transfer capabilities
- Recurring donation buttons
- Round up options for donors to cover processing fees
Then, embed your donation form directly onto your donation page or anywhere else you deem appropriate for targeting donors where they’re most likely to take notice. Embeddable tools are also a perfect option for small nonprofits that are new to accepting digital donations. For an idea of what an ideal tool should be able to accomplish for your organization, check out these customizable donation forms from Donately.
Keeping your donation form hosted internally is a simple way to ensure that your user experience remains entirely in your control, and it also lets you make quick adjustments whenever you decide to change your preset donation amounts or add a new field for donors to complete.
4. Spending too much on low functionality? Find a more comprehensive donation management tool.
Nonprofit software solutions can sometimes be too expensive for what they deliver, especially when the average nonprofit organization is operating on an extremely tight budget. If your organization’s donation processing is supported through a standalone solution and you’re unhappy with either its cost or functionality, research some new options. Your ability to accept and process online donations is too important to leave unattended simply because your organization is worried about the logistical stresses of switching to a new software solution. Besides, the top donation management tools for nonprofits will typically address many of your digital management needs at once.
While they might not first come to mind when considering the kinds of software solutions that help boost the effectiveness of your online donation conversion funnel, fraternities and sororities are often managed through extremely effective software tools.
After all, they have to simultaneously address many important organizational needs, like:
- Donation processing
- Dues collection
- Accounting tools
- Data reporting
- Committee management
- Automated marketing tools
If you’re curious about what these software solutions might look like, check out Double the Donation’s list of the top fraternity management software.
If any of the digital management needs listed above (and especially donation processing!) sound like areas that your organization could use some help with, start researching your software options. Updating your donation processing capabilities might be a great opportunity to refresh other aspects of your digital operations, too.
Plus, uniting multiple aspects of your digital operations through a shared management tool will create a more streamlined workflow and ease the sharing and reporting of data!
5. Difficulty reporting donation data? Use donation tools with integration capabilities.
Another way to streamline the ways that your nonprofit collects, organizes, and makes use of donation data is to consciously find donation processing and form hosting tools that will integrate with your other data tools. The ability to collect and report data from your donation page and forms is of huge importance. Aside from the actual donation itself, the donor information that you receive through those outlets is extremely valuable to your organization.
If your recent fundraising strategies have been missing the mark or you feel that your donation tools could be more immediately useful to your strategy, take a look at their data reporting capabilities. The most common way for donation tools to report the data you’ll need to inform your fundraising and accounting decisions is through third party integrations with any apps that you use for tracking logistics and operations.
Any donation platforms, tools, or processing service your organization chooses should provide some or all of these kinds of integrations:
- Salesforce or other CRM integration: Your donation data should be automatically imported into your database to ensure nothing gets left out.
- Google Analytics or other analytic tools: This kind of integration is a perfect built-in safeguard that allows you to identify trends and issues as they emerge.
- Automatic mail and marketing integration: Your donation processing platform can integrate with marketing tools to send automatic thank-you emails or receipts.
Data collection and app integration are extremely important aspects of accepting donations online. If you’re unsure whether or not your organization’s current solutions are providing the greatest possible integration functionality, do some research and identify where you might have room for improvement.
As you start to examine and diagnose any issues that your organization experiences with its online donation processing, always ask yourself two questions: Is this a technical issue or a user experience issue? What resources can solve this problem or help me avoid it entirely?
Online donation tools are extremely important for nonprofits of all sizes, so never let any digital processing challenges stand between you and your donations!