by Darian Rodriguez Heyman
More and more nonprofit donations take place in today’s digital landscape, but how can causes of all sizes ensure their online storefront is not only open for business, but optimized?
As I explored this critical issue in my new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, I interviewed Roderick Campbell, the CEO of nonprofit fundraising platform CommitChange. He shared a few takeaways from their efforts to maximize digital donations for Mercy House, a $3.8M nonprofit that has provided housing and support to California’s homeless since 1989. We also talked about a range of resources to help smaller, grassroots organizations in the early stages of embracing online fundraising, including Network for Good, NTEN, and Beth Kanter’s blog.
This simple formula helped Mercy House double online giving in just six months, and I believe it can do the same for your nonprofit, too.
- Break it Down: CommitChange helped Mercy House break the donation process down into four steps: recurring versus one-time; amount; info; and payment. Instead of asking for the information all at once, they simplified the process, which is especially helpful for digital donors contributing on their mobile device. Another great example of what this looks like is charity: water, also profiled in the book. Whatever your process, be sure to look closely at recurring giving, as this creates valuable ongoing funding for your cause, increases gifts since people are more likely to donate $10 a month versus $120 now, and simple tweaking here can yield tremendous results: by leading with the recurring gift option, Mercy House increased the number of donors signing up as sustaining members by 400%!
- Stay Consistent: The data proves what we all know in our guts: nobody likes to feel like they’re leaving your website once they hit that donate button. So be sure to keep the look and feel of your donate page consistent with your website and other communication materials and ensure your logo remains visible throughout the giving experience. This simple change helped Mercy House convert more of the people who clicked “donate” to actual supporters, while simultaneously increasing average gift size.
- Streamline Donations: Less is more, and once someone clicks “donate,” your job is to make the giving process as simple as possible. In fact, CommitChange discovered that every field eliminated from the donation experience increases conversion by 2%. They further optimized conversion rates by adding some simple programming, so when Mercy House website visitors click the donate button, a new tab opens up exclusively dedicated to the donation process, ensuring a closed environment free of distractions.
By making these three simple changes, Mercy House was able to improve online giving by 110% in just six months, and it didn’t stop there. They continued to enjoy the fruits of their labor and saw an additional 73% increase in the six months after that. The point is, if you take the time to build a solid foundation for the house that is your online giving experience, the sky is the limit to what becomes possible.
Darian Rodriguez Heyman is an accomplished fundraiser, social entrepreneur, and best-selling author. His work “helping people help” started during his five-year tenure as Executive Director of Craigslist Foundation, after which he edited the best-selling book, Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals (Wiley & Sons) and co-founded the global conference series, Social Media for Nonprofits and Sparrow: Mobile for All. His new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, is a comprehensive yet practical guide to all aspects of fundraising for your cause, and chapters 15 – 18 are dedicated to online giving. Heyman is also an in-demand fundraising consultant and a frequent keynote speaker at social impact events around the globe.
Free webinar March 9, 2016
Darian Rodriguez Heyman will be presenting a special free webinar on March 9, 12 p.m., Engage Millennials and Drive Event Fundraising, co-hosted with KC Fox of EventBrite. For more information and to register, visit the Center for Non-Profits’ Events page.