Step Process for Online Donations by Credit Card
The clicks a donor must make to donate online with a credit
card should never be taken for granted. In the world of virtual
giving, where studies indicate that up to 80% of retail shoppers
may abandon their shopping carts before completing their purchase,
you should be sure to ask, "Is our donation software missing
something important that causes donors to quit before giving?"
When you consider a donation engine software provider, avoid
being abandoned by your donor by choosing a provider that is sensitive
to the donor's experience.
Once you get your donor to consider a donation (once they've clicked
"Donate Now" button), look for this four step process
when you consider
a donation engine provider.
No donation should take more than four steps to complete,
in this order:
Each step should take place on a separate screen that is designed
so that your typical web visitor does not have to scroll down to
complete form elements. The first three steps should be able to
be completed in three screens (without scrolling) and should be
clearly labeled so that the donor knows exactly where she or he
is in the process.
Ask first for
a specific amount for a specific purpose. The first decision
the donor should be required to make is the amount of his or her
gift and the purpose it will go to. Deciding the amount is the most
important step for the donor. Sure, you want contact and follow-up
information, but it will be easier to get once the donor has committed
to a gift. Don't offer unusual gift amounts like $450, but always
provide an alternative that lets the donor specify their own amount.
There are some good options for online planned giving programs,
but generally you shouldn't ask for specific online gifts in amounts
of more than $1,000. Yes, you may get them. One person in a group
I spoke to had received a $77,000 gift online, but designating a
purpose and recognition was an appropriate part of the off line
Don't confuse the donor with too many gift choices that have vague
purposes. Display three to five different amounts, each tied to
a clear result. Online donors, more than offline donors, are interested
in results. let the donor know exactly what the donation will accomplish
in synopsis form. And then be sure to include a link, "For more
information," in case the donor wants to learn more about the program
they would be supporting. The Heifer
Project offers a fabulous example of a gift catalog, but organizations
with a smaller budget can accomplish their goals with fewer, carefully
Be sure that the point where a donor selects their gift amount
is on the same page as the description of the result. If you are
allowing an online donor to choose between different funds -- a
program gift or a capital campaign, for instance, those should be
two entirely separate donation processes. Don't mix bricks and mortar
with immediate program needs!
Don't ask for
optional information you don't need from most donors. Donors
find requests for superfluous information annoying and even intrusive.
And never require that the donor remit all of their contact information
when they make a gift.
Require only the information that is essential to process the credit
card donation: First and Last Names, Card number, expiration date.
City, address, and zip should be considered optional unless your
credit card processor requires them. Ask for an email address in
step three, but don't require it. Never ask for a telephone number
with the gift. And why would you possibly want a fax number?
Online giving is usually an emotional,
impulsive experience. The more information you request, the more
you ask the donor to rethink the gift, and the more likely it is
that the process may be abandoned.
Never ever store the donor's credit card number, not even if it's
stored as a cookie on the donor's computer (what if they happen
to use the computer at the public library?). Assure the donor that
their card number is not being stored, and provide a direct link
do with the information collected during the donation process.
Use columns wisely to avoid forcing the donor to scroll, and don't
forget to display the selected gift amount, and purpose, from Step
of the information that you've received so far and invite the donor
to click on a button labeled "YES" to complete their gift. Allow
the donor to make corrections to their information directly on this
screen, or have a second button labeled "Corrections" or "Not Yet"
that will send the donor back to Step Two.
Wait until Step Three to ask for the donor's email address in the
context of sending the donor an acknowledgement. And, at the same
time offer them the opportunity to opt in to an email alerts list.
One study suggests that, in the minds of most donors, the act of
sharing an email address implies permission for a later contact.
Store the email address and use it later in a targeted email appeal.
But don't add the donor's email address to your online newsletter
without express permission.
Say thank you
three times. Take the donor to a thank you screen. Generate
an auto reply for an email thank you. And generate a snail mail
thank you in not more than two business days. The thank you screen
is a good time to invite the donor, optionally, to forward your
site address to a friend, to complete a feedback form, to join a
discussion group, to take some other additional action on behalf
of your mission.
The donor experience is not the only criteria on which to base
your choice of a donation engine software, but I believe it may
be the most important. Since most donation engine providers
won't perform all of the tasks described in these steps, when choosing
one, look first for adherence to the basic steps and their order,
and then to the ability complete the details within each.
You can find more information in our article, Online
Donation Engine Providers, as well as at our Donation
Engine Provider Table that displays a comparison of various
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