Too often, conversations about website fundraising start with the donation form or the color and placement of the “Donate” button. Those discussions miss the first and most important task every website must accomplish when inspiring donations: clearly explain what you do.
I work hard on that with my clients, and I was absolutely thrilled when I got the following email:
I wanted to pass along some good feedback – I reached out to a new donor to thank them, and asked what prompted them to give. He said that he works for [company] and that they are supporting a few local orgs… When I asked him what made him choose us off the list, he said:
“There were 3 local charities for the Seattle area, and your organization’s home page was very clear about what kind of things the donation would go to.” [emphasis added]
This person gave their money and company match to Communities In Schools Renton-Tukwila based on their home page:
We spent quite a bit of effort together working on the home page for every Communities In Schools affiliate in Washington State to clearly communicate their mission, the problem they are solving, how they help students, and the positive outcomes they achieve.
That work paid off when someone who was unfamiliar with the organization visited the site and decided to give!
Putting This in Practice for Your Website
This story perfectly illustrates how straightforward information about your organization is important to donors. It’s also completely consistent with past usability research from the Nielsen Norman Group in 5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites:
1. Clearly Explain What the Organization Does
Our studies tell us that the most important pieces of information that people need to know about a charity or nonprofit before they make a donation are the type of work that the organization does and how that work is done.
So if you want to get donations on your website, be crystal clear about what your organization does. Too often, home pages fill up with organizational news (“Join Our Board”, “Sign up for Our Conference”) or vague platitudes (“We activate community” “We change the world”) rather than honestly describing what your organization does and why people should care. This is a huge mistake!
That basic information welcomes visitors to your site and invites them to support your cause with honesty and clarity. So while this may seem simple or obvious, it really is the first step toward getting more donations on your website.