Getting the Donor User Experience Right
25 November 2014 at 11:10 am
Putting in the effort to get the online User Experience right will strengthen the Not for Profit brand and help convert visitors into donors much faster than other channels, and at a lower, cost writes digital marketing and fundraising specialist Shanelle Newton Clapham.
I absolutely believe that if you put your donor first – online as well as offline – you will be rewarded financially and socially.
Some charities are incredibly donor-centric. Focusing on User Experience, in both online and offline spaces, comes naturally to this group. Other organisations are so focused on their mission that they forget it’s the donors who make their work possible.
If you’re convinced that digital is a place for engagement only, Iet me guarantee you right now that putting the donor first online will deliver financial results – that excellent online experiences will and do translate into excellent fundraising channels. But first, you have to invest in creating an excellent digital platform, with content to match.
Putting in the effort to get the User Experience right will strengthen your brand and help you to convert visitors into donors much faster than other channels, and at a lower cost.
User Experience in a digital fundraising context
Wikipedia defines User Experience as “the way a person feels about using a product, system or service. User Experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership, but it also includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects, such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system.
User Experience is subjective in nature, because it’s about an individual’s feelings and thoughts about the system. User Experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change.”
For digital fundraising, User Experience is the ability to understand how supporters and donors think, feel and behave when they interact with a website or mobile app that asks for a donation or action. This approach results in high average gifts, repeat cash donations and brand advocates.
What I like most about the Wikipedia definition is the reminder that a user's experience is forever changing online. Think about the last five years of your professional life. I'm sure that you shop, donate and transact online with far more confidence now than you did five years ago. Most likely, at least half of you reading this article have a smartphone sitting within arms reach on which you can Google anything you feel sceptical about for more information.
If your own behaviour online has changed over the past five years, then so has your supporters’. But is your organisation keeping up to date with consumer behaviour?
Create a simple, streamlined donation experience
In an ideal world, your online donation gateway should be one page. You want to keep the form fields that your donors have to fill in to an absolute minimum. You also want to make sure that your donors can clearly see what they’re donating to and where their money will be spent.
There is only one aim for an online conversion funnel (donation payment form or action): to make it as fast and easy as possible for the supporter to give. Online conversion is not about beautiful design, it’s about functionality. It’s your great content that will engage donors; and then it’s your cause that needs to match with their values and compel them to take action. If you can tick both of these boxes, you’ve achieved the hard part of getting them to your website – don’t give them a clunky experience as an excuse to leave.
Effective online conversion funnels
Every organisation has internal politics and processes to navigate, which make it difficult for any donation experience to be perfect. Here are some examples of organisations that are doing it well.
Greenpeace Australia has nailed the one page, simple and easy donation experience.
Oxfam Australia is great at sharing their cause with the supporter and explaining how they will spend the money.
WSPA Humane Chain has a brilliant petition action as the supporter’s point of entry. It has minimal form fields and the thank you page makes me feel part of a committed tribe.
About the author: Shanelle Newton Clapham is a digital marketing and fundraising specialist, author and Chief Adventurer at Parachute Digital. Her latest book is Attracting Donors Online – Digital Fundraising that Works A free chapter is available HERE
 Wikipedia, 2013, ‘User Experience’, viewed 21 August 2014, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience>.
 Greenpeace Australia Pacific Limited, 2013, viewed 21 August 2014, <https://www.greenpeace.org.au/secure/donate/>.
 WSPA Humane Chain, 2013, ‘WSPA Live Export Campaign’ website, viewed 28 August 2013, <http://www.wspaliveexport.org.au>.