Five Lessons Learned From Donating to 25 Nonprofits

Membership, Social/Mobile, online giving

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Reprinted with permission from Nonprofit Tech for Good.

This week Nonprofit Tech for Good donated $25 to 25 nonprofits in order to study how nonprofits are progressing in the design of their donation pages and in the efficacy of their online donation process. There was a wide variety in donation page design, layout, and functionality and that made donating to 25 nonprofits all in one sitting a somewhat frustrating, and at times, perplexing experience.

Seven of the 25 nonprofits required a donor to provide their phone number. Two required entering a captcha to give. Two nonprofits did not follow-up with a “thank you” email. One nonprofit that I could not donate to was missing the address field so the donation could not be processed. Another nonprofit timed out twice (on two different days) during the donation processing and the donation was never completed.

Four of the 25 nonprofits were based in countries where online fundraising is a challenge and options are limited, but if your nonprofit is based in North America, Europe, or Australia and New Zealand, you have excellent online fundraising services available, so take this as a reminder to donate to your own nonprofit with a fresh set of eyes and upgrade your fundraising service, if necessary. And mimic the large nonprofits! The Wilderness Society, UNICEF, and Conservation International have well-designed donation pages that were easy-to-use and effective.

1. Only 8% of nonprofits attempt to convert online donors into social media followers during the “Thank You for Your Donation” process.

Email and social media are the two driving factors behind online giving, yet nonprofits still make little to no attempt to convert their online donors into social media followers on their “thank you for your donation” landing page and their “thank you for your donation” follow-up email. Only two of the 25 nonprofits donated to had calls-to follow during the “thank you” process. Of the 25 nonprofits, Conservation International had the best call-to-follow during the “thank you” process, but don’t be afraid to go bold and beyond. Add large, colorful, obvious calls-to-follow to the top of your your “thank you for your donation” landing page and your “thank you for your donation” follow-up email.

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2. 68% of nonprofits have mobile-compatible donation pages.


In 2016, 17% of online transactions were made using a mobile device. That fact seems to have gotten through to the majority nonprofits – 17 of the 25 nonprofits donated to have mobile-compatible donation pages. That said, 32% not having a mobile-compatible donation page is still rather high at this stage in the mobile revolution. The Innocence Project recently relaunched their website to make it mobile-friendly, including their donation page.

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3. 88% of nonprofits have monthly giving options on their donation pages.


Monthly giving grew 23% in 2016 and is becoming a steady source of income for many nonprofits. Of the 25 nonprofits donated to, 22 have a monthly giving option featured on their donation page. Two of the 25 had monthly giving set as the default on their donation page. Wildlife SOS, based in India, also requires donors to choose whether they want their donation to be processed in U.S. Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, or Indian Rupees.

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4. In addition to credit card payments, 48% of nonprofits also accept PayPal and 28% accept eChecks.

eChecks are particularly important for donors based in Europe where credit cards aren’t as popular and there are donors out there that prefer PayPal over credit cards or eChecks. However, one nonprofit of the 25 nonprofits donated to only accepted PayPal and that decision is likely costing them donors and donations. Ideally, your nonprofit should have a donation page that accepts two out of the three – and all three if your nonprofits fundraises internationally, such as UNICEF:

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5. 0% accept digital payments, such as Apple Pay or Visa Checkout.

Digital payments are the future of online fundraising, yet of the 25 nonprofits donated to, none of them are an early adopter. One nonprofit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, did accept Bitcoin.

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Donations triggered by: Email (11), social media (7), local, personal connection to nonprofit (4), experience through travel (3), print appeal (1).

Nonprofits donated to: Alley Cat Allies, Amboseli Trust for ElephantsAnimal Legal Defense FundAWARE TrustConservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, Electronic Frontier FoundationGlobal Sanctuary for ElephantsHuman Rights WatchInnocence ProjectMarshall Project, NRDC, Ocean ConservancyPerforming Animal Welfare Society, Sea Turtle Conservancy, She Should RunSnow Leopard Trust, St. Louis, Public RadioStray Rescue of St. LouisTenth Life Rescue, Tower Grove ParkUNICEFWilderness SocietyWildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife SOS

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