I was talking with an organization the other day who wanted to have a storefront to process their donations.
They felt that with the prevalence of online shopping a storefront would be the best way to get donors through their site to give to their mission.
Immediately, I thought of three reasons why a shopping cart donation process produces terrible results for the donor and the nonprofit trying to raise money:
1. Violates the KISS principle.
Keep it Simple!
There’s a lot of research out there that says the best way to bring in more online donations – is to make to make it easier for the donor to complete their donation. Even Amazon realizes that the faster you can have a person complete a transaction – the more likely it will happen (that’s why they have 1 click purchases). If you make a donor have multiple stages to the donation process (finding the donation amount in the store, adding it to the cart, finding the cart icon, starting the check out process, logging in, entering their name and address info, entering payment info, entering a billing address, etc) you are making a donor have multiple opportunities to abandon the form and not donate at all.
But what if they go through all those steps?
2: You lose the chance for recurring revenue.
Most storefronts only have the option to buy a one-time donation. That means you lose vital recurring donations. Donors who commit to $10 or $25 dollar a month donations help you raise larger than average gifts with consistent cash flow. By going with a storefront – you’ll lose this option. Don’t forget recurring donors are very likely going to be retained, donors. They re more likely to upgrade their giving over time. They are more likely to be advocates for your organization in the community. They cost very little to retain since they’ve committed to monthly giving until they tell you otherwise.
But that’s not even close to being the most significant reason not to use a shopping cart donation page.
3. You lose an opportunity to build the relationship between your mission and your donor.
Donations are not equal to shopping. You want to link your donor with your mission. First-time donor retention rates are in the 20% range. You can boost these significantly by creating a donor-centric and mission-centric experience for your donors. Allow them to know what the impact is that they’re making with their online donations. I consistently chose large donation amounts if I can see that $116 dollars will have a specific impact (over what might have been a $100 donation). You want them to see your mission and your story wrapped around the form. You want them on your website – not directed to a third party’s site. You want to send them to a thank you page that allows them to post their gift activity on Twitter for others to see. And most of all – you want to be able to send a personalized email based on the form they filled out and the cause they supported. They shouldn’t be getting a receipt like they just bought something on eBay.
How well do you do with your online giving forms?