Online Giving Test Results Part I

Guide Your Prospects to Donate Online

 Online giving has been growing at an incredible rate the past few years. In 2010, U.S. nonprofits received over $22 billion in online donations. Over 8% of total giving was made online that year. And the pie is growing; online giving has grown at 15-25% every year since 2006.

Are JCamp 180 affiliated camps prepared to take advantage of this fundraising channel?

In December 2012, our Mentors gave (or tried to give!) a small donation to each of the camps with whom they work. We didn't quite reach all of the camps, but we attempted to donate online to 83 camps. The results of this test are summarized in two parts.

In this article (Part I), we review how to get prospects to find your donation page and complete the process. In Part II, we continue to review the donor experience after a donation has been made.

Want to make your online giving process better for your users? Test it yourself! Is the form easy to find? Does it connect with you emotionally? Is it easy to fill out? Is it clear? If you have trouble giving on your own site, or it takes a long time to complete, it may be time to revisit the design process.

Want more best practices to help you optimize your online giving? Read our article on best practices for online giving

In the meantime, here are some of the results from our test:

69 of the 83 offered online giving that could be found quickly and easily.

If you don't offer online giving, you are missing out on both real donation income and initial connection with potential long-term donors. Want to get started but aren't sure where to start? Read our article that compares good online giving vendors. These options offer a variety of functionality at a range of fees; they are all simple to get started.

Some camps we tested offer online giving, but it was very difficult to find a link to the online form. For example, one camp's "Support Us" links were buried in the left-hand navigation...


...and on the bottom of their website.

But this camp was far from the only camp who could make their DonateNow links easier to find.

Who is doing it well? Camp Young Judea Texas has a very prominent DonateNow image on their homepage. They also provide a smaller "Donate to CYJ" button at the top of every page on their website.


Check your site. Make sure the link to donate online is big and stands out. A button of image is ideal.

14 of 69 camps (20%) required more than 2 clicks to get to the online giving form.

Your DonateNow button should really link directly to the donation form. The next best option is to include an interim page to explain your various donation options before the donor finds the form. But no site should ever require someone to click three or more times to get to the actual donation form. If this describes your website, it is time to simplify the process.

34 of 69 (49%) required more than 2 clicks to complete the donation form. Some forms took as long as 10-15 minutes to complete!

 Once a donor reaches your form, it should be short and only ask you for required information: Name, Address, Email Address, Amount of Gift, Designation, Payment Information.

Studies show that even removing one extraneous field from your form can increase your fundraising success. Ideally all fields will be on one webpage so the donor doesn't have to click many times to complete the transaction. If your form requires more than 2 clicks, streamline the form and consider removing unnecessary fields.

For example, this form from Camp Solomon Schecter is simple, short, only requests required information, and is all included on one page.


One last tip re: making the form as simple and short as possible: don't offer too many choices. In this example, the camp provides dozens of potential funds to support.


Try to focus on only a handful of funds or campaigns on your online giving form. For example, it is perfectly fine to ask for donations to scholarship, unrestricted/greatest need, capital, operating, and one or two other specific ongoing campaigns/funds. Too many options slow down the process and could result in people giving up on the form.

Now that your donor has supported you online, what's next? Read Part II of our testing to review the experience a donor has after the donation has been made. Remember that the donation is just the start of an ongoing relationship with a donor.