Online Fundraising

Don’t Make It Difficult!


Online and mobile donations are growing at double digit rates each year. No wonder -- it’s quick and convenient. Plus, your supporters have the satisfaction of feeling they’ve made an immediate impact.

While eager to take advantage of these trends, many organizations still find themselves tripping over the somewhat tedious, but surprisingly important details of payment processing.

What are some of the unanticipated pitfalls? A theater website, initially built to sell tickets, may require a prospective donor to establish an account and log in. A membership group (or organization that sells products) may be set up for a more complicated selection and purchase process. A captcha form intended to reinforce security may prove difficult for an older donor to read. A charity that uses a third party processor may find it difficult to get the donor back to their site.

The list goes on.

The processing decision is a complicated issue that rightfully demands consideration of IT, accounting or other departments throughout the organization. But this goes well beyond simply collecting and transferring funds. As development director, you should take an active role in the decision, paying particular attention to issues that may affect the donor experience. Some of these include:

  • Ease of use Be careful about introducing roadblocks of any kind. More steps lead to more abandonments.
  • Consistency Is the look and feel of the donation form (your brand) similar to that of the email message or web page that initially made the case for giving?
  • Flexibility Can the full range of support options (one-time donations, monthly commitments, event registrations, tribute or honor gifts, etc.) be seamlessly identified and selected?
  • Customer service What communication, beyond confirmation and tax notification would you like to have with the donor? Can you add an additional message of appreciation? Identify and welcome a first time donor?

The devil is in the details. Your involvement on the front end will have tremendous impact on what is normally considered a “back-end” process!