5 tips to convert web visitors into donors

11 May

Why do you buy books on Flipkart?

For one, the price is just right for an impulse buy. Two, it’s easy, since your preferred addresses are stored and you don’t have to type details in again. Three, you have many payment options, including Net Banking and Cash on Delivery.

In other words, Flipkart makes it easy for you to buy.

The world of non-profits is not that different from the book selling business. Yes, a major difference is that when a person usually visits a Flipkart or an Amazon, it’s with the definite intention of making a purchase. Non-profits on the other hand have to persuade donors to make the “purchase” or the donation.

So what could non-profits learn from the Flipkart experience?

1. Make it affordable

The average online donor has, by and large, stumbled upon your site, and has stayed a bit longer because the story you told caught his attention. Any donation is most likely to be an impulse donation. Impulse purchases (and contributions) are usually small amounts. I would safely assume that anything between Rs 500 (the amount you’d spend at a coffee shop) and Rs 2,000 (the amount you might spend at a fancy meal once a month) is fair game for an online donation.

Online donations can be for higher amounts, of course, but such donations are usually not spontaneous. For example, those who pledge Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 to support causes in marathons have been invited by a friend and have most likely made up their minds to donate.

Therefore, keep the amounts relatively low, to get high volumes of online donations.

2. Make it real

Every non-profit website has the ubiquitous story and an appeal to donate. But often, the stories are either on the home page or inner pages, and the donate page just has the dry donation details. Make it real for the donor, by demonstrating the connection between the story and the appeal. In other words, a combination of the story, a photo and an ask works well. I love the way Kiva does it (www.kiva.org) – it gives you a story with a photo, makes an ask of $25, tells you what the money is for, but also tells you how much is needed in all (with a horizontal bar indicating how much has been raised.)

3. Make it easy

Do you have long forms for the donor to fill out (in your eagerness to develop a database)? Chances are the donor will postpone the act of giving to later (which usually means never.) The Population Foundation of India website asks people to enter their details before downloading any of the reports available on the website. You have to enter your details as many times as the number of reports you want to read! (Note: PFI does not seek to convert web visitors to donors, but it would be so much better to store user details in a database and allow users to login at one time and download as many reports as they want. This would help PFI improve user experience, while being able to track and analyse user behavior.)

Keep only the very essential form fields (such as name and address) that will allow you to send a receipt and thank you letter to the donor. And please make sure repeat donors do not have to key in all details all over again.

Allow multiple ways to give. Use bank transfers, credit cards and direct debits, and not so much the usual cheque and dance routine. There’s many a slip between the intent to write a cheque and the actual writing (or posting) of it.

4. Make it quick

Many non-profits ask early, and ask on the homepage. See CRY, Unicef or Greenpeace. This is the result of years of trial-and-testing and research. Don’t wait to tell your donor the history of your organization and the story behind your programmes. Chances are you’ll lose the donor midway through the history. Ask early, and provide short well-written stories and statistics to bolster your case.

5. Make it credible

It’s likely that no one has heard of you, and that when people do hear of you, they wonder if you’re above board. Factor in your audience’s skepticism into your communication, and answer the questions before they ask. Make your annual report downloadable; put the top numbers right where they can see; give your donors the sense that there is real person behind the faceless website.

Image

Comic strip courtesy Carol Weisman’s blog, http://www.boardbuilders.com/node/55

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