The online donation experience has grown exponentially over the years. Shoddy dial-up connections, shortages of skilled professionals and underwhelming online user experiences are but a distant memory.
In the last year, average online charity donations increased by 32% to nearly £70. The way UK donors engage with charities is evolving with 17% of UK adults donating money to a fundraising campaign online, including social networking sites. Because of this, building a seamless digital experience for prospective donors is imperative.
Back in May, Shout released a White Paper sampling online donation experiences across a variety of charities. Among a number of insights we found that:
User experience is a key component to retaining users/visitors. A website has to be optimised, responsive and in line with digital trends to better appeal to new visitors and keep existing ones. Growing online payments require an improvement of the online payment process to create a seamless digital experience.
With increasing mobile traffic on the web, UX and UI advancements and consumers' expectations, we wondered how charities can optimise the online donation process, specifically the payment process. And with the incredible amount of resources available to charities today, how do you choose which resources will work best for you, and how can you ensure an optimised online donor experience?
In this article, we’ll review:
The first thing to consider, whether you’re developing a website for the first time or auditing an existing site is whether you will use an integrated or third party payment system.
Online platforms run by third parties like JustGiving are used by a large number of charities to collect donations. There are alternative options, however, such as integrated payment directly to your charity’s website.
There are obvious benefits to supporting integrated payment in terms of donor retention. Chief executive of Harrison’s Fund, Alex Smith claims their donations have increased by 600% now that they have switched to a fully integrated payment system. That being said, typically only larger charities will have the resources to do this due to the cost implications of using a merchant bank facility.
Although this option may not be feasible for smaller charities with limited resources, luckily there are a host of third party payment gateways that are built to offer charity an equally successful user experience.
Below are some of the third party payment systems available today:
MyDonate - MyDonate is a not-for-profit, online fundraising service for UK charities from BT. The service provides a secure, easy-to-use way for millions of people to raise money for their favourite charity.
Charity Choice - Charity Choice brings charities and charity supporters together. They’ve been helping charities of all sizes gain support for over 25 years. Now every UK registered charity can benefit from a free personalised "microsite" entry within Charity Choice's online directory including a safe, secure and commission free online donation facility.
Givey - Givey launched in 2012, and describes itself as a 'social donation platform'. It makes its money from its business arm and from a transaction fee added to your chosen donation so it's free for charities but you'll need to factor in the transaction fee. It's also free for charities to register and set up a page too.
JustGiving - JustGiving is probably the best known of the online fundraising sites with over 13,000 causes to donate to. It is a profit-making site and attracts the big names such as Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation, but this does come with a big £15 monthly fee for charities, which the bigger organisations can probably afford more than the smaller charities.
PayPal Giving Fund - PayPal Giving Fund (formerly Mission Fish) is a registered charity which allows charities to raise money online through eBay sales or PayPal usage. It allows sellers to donate a proportion or all of their profits, or allows one-off donations to charities on its site. Uniquely, it charges no fees or commission. However, you must sell in the normal way on eBay, which means you can't use this to raise money through sponsored events.
As you can see, there are a variety of service offerings on the market today so it’s important to focus not only on fees and processing charges, but the requirements of your charity. A simple, straightforward system that is robust enough for your needs is key to achieving the best ROI.
What’s the point of having a brilliant payment platform if the design of your website doesn’t keep donors around long enough to experience it? Here are a few questions your charity should ask when auditing your online donation experience:
By utilising firm parameters against which you can measure success, you can monitor and measure, tweak and fine-tune your website UX, evolving a strategy to get you the best possible results.
A/B testing is one way to gain these insights. By tracking the way visitors interact with the page they are shown – the buttons they click or whether or not they make a donation – you can determine which version of the page is most effective. In addition, multivariate testing uses the same core mechanism as A/B testing, but compares a higher number of variables, revealing more information about how these variables interact with one another.
That being said, all of your efforts are potentially in vain if your website isn’t fully optimised. With mobile usage overtaking desktops in 2014, it’s safe to say that much of our digital engagement happens on mobile devices, whether that is through browsers or apps.
Many prospective donors will be smartphone users; therefore sites should be responsive as well as being compatible with both iOS and Android. To ensure that your website or mobile app is running smoothly, check out our tips on conducting good quality assurance testing.
To achieve this simplicity isn’t always easy, but with the right tools and planning, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a seamless online donation experience.
With expertise and sector experience that spans across several industries, such as the NFP & Charity Sector, we’re committed to the user experience. We’ve worked with organisations like NCFE and the Great Run Company to produce successful, award winning digital and mobile solutions.
If you’d like to discuss how you can improve your online charity payment experience, please get in touch.