5 ways charities can quickly improve online donations

14 Nov

Donation appeals from charity websites

A report recently published provides an overview of charitable giving in the UK. It says that charity donations are down by 20% since the previous year. The report suggests that the overall number of people donating fell as well as the amount they are giving.

So what can charities do to boost their donations in difficult times? From hours of research with users we found the following 5 actions any charity can take to ensure they keep online donations pouring in.

1. Clearly demonstrate why donations are needed

Some charities are guilty of assuming that people understand what they do and why donations are needed. However, in our research we found users would search for a specific cause they were concerned about i.e. a particular disaster, or a broader theme i.e. cancer, then struggle to understand what specifically each charity did to solve the problem.
Users need to see a clear mission statement along with examples of what projects and initiatives the charity runs to support the cause.

2. Show them where the money goes

In addition to a clear mission statement and examples of charity initiatives, users look for case studies and concrete evidence that the charity is actually making a difference. They want to see what the money they give goes towards and specifically how donations are allocated to the different projects they are running.

3. Tell them how much money will reach the cause

Once users are convinced that the charity is a worthy cause, and is a credible candidate for their support, users then want to see how much of their donation reaches the cause. Users can be sceptical of how much of their money actually sees the front line. Those charities that did well to reassure users were the ones that broke down how many pence in a typical pound went to the cause, to future investments, internal administration costs, and future research.

4. Allow them to donate to specific campaigns/disasters

Users who were concerned about specific campaigns or disasters run by a charity were frustrated when they were unable to donate to that specific cause. Instead, they were forced to give a generic donation which the charity would allocate for them. This prevented some users from donating, which can result in them Googling an alternative charity who tackle their concern directly. Allowing users to choose which campaign or disaster to donate to would encourage more donations.

5.Provide easy ways to give one-off donations

Understandably, many charity websites encourage users to donate on a monthly basis rather than a one-off donation. However, this is often dealt with poorly making it confusing for users to select the one-off option instead. We found several users would give up easily on their donations if they found it difficult to select the one-off option. We were also surprised by the high proportion of users who prefer to donate by Paypal as an easy alternative, yet many charities did not offer this option.

In Summary

Whilst the economic climate is resulting in many people being more frugal with their spending, charities can improve the amount of donations they receive online by following the above guidelines. Donors have a variety of charities competing for their attention, meaning that charities have to work much harder at demonstrating why users should choose them.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you get more online donations, please get in touch or read more about our charity expertise.

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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael