It’s that time of year again when development departments are putting the final touches on the end of year annual giving campaign. In order to help maximize those efforts, here are five best practice tips to help you avoid overlooking critical items.
1: Make The Donation Process Click-Click-Done Simple
This tip may not be what some folks in the field want to hear but if you require donors to register an account before they can complete the donation process, you’re leaving giant piles of money on the table. Think of it like this: if you were soliciting donations on the street, would you require each passersby donor to fill out a form before you’ll take the money you can see in their outstretched hand? Right.
Ideally, the donation process should take as few steps and page loads as possible.
If you can fit your entire online donation process on a single page and get to the transaction confirmation in less than two minutes, you’re in the hero’s circle. If not, then you now have a goal; ask your web developer for help.
Update: well this is timely; Google just released a mobile design best practices document that reinforces the need for providing a guest checkout process: “Offer the option to check out as a guest, and encourage registration with tangible benefits.” Check out page 20 for the full content.
2. Take Mobile First Design To Heart
Although everyone seems to understand how important mobile device usability is, there still seems to be an awful lot of online donation forms that are only suited for desktop browsers.
If your donation form design options are limited (#NonprofitBudgets), opt for creating a user experience that works best on mobile devices first and foremost. At the very least, this format scales up far better than a desktop-focused design scales down. Ideally, your donation forms will be 100 percent responsive and flow between device types seamlessly but if you must choose, opt for something that works best via mobile.
When in doubt, ask your web developer for help.
3. Double Dip On The Warm-and-Fuzzy
Odds are, your donors are going to feel good about their gifts and what you want is for them to share the warm-and-fuzzy via their social networks. The first point of contact should be on the transaction confirmation page. Make sure you test the share function to see if those links only pull the default page title, intro text, and random image. If so, you can imagine how much of a swing-and-a-miss that would be on something like an e-commerce transaction confirmation page.
Ideally, you’ll have the capability to create social share links with custom messages/images to replace those defaults.
The next point of contact is in the transactional confirmation message coming from the e-commerce platform which processed the donation. Ideally, you can customize this message as well and if so, you want to load it up with the very same social share conversions. Donors may not stick on the first social share push but it will make them more likely to convert if you can get that second message to them in short order via the transactional message.
If you aren’t certain about your ability to create custom share messages and/or edit transactional messages to include custom social share links, ask your web developer for help. And although it should be second nature at this point, let’s be safe and mention that dedicated hashtags and @mentions are a must so be sure to use those diligently.
4. Make Sure Your SSL Certificate Is Up To Date
You already know online security is a big deal and 2016 introduced a number of new security and performance standards, such as HTTP/2, which reduces the time it takes encrypted data to move from Point A to Point B. Online e-commerce security also saw a big update by way of phasing out the TLS 1.0 protocol.
Fortunately, you don’t need to worry much about what all that geek means but you should contact your web and/or hosting provider responsible for processing your e-commerce transactions to confirm that all is good for your donation forms, your SSL certificates are up to date, and related security protocols are solid.
5. Track, Test, Adapt, WIN!
Ideally, you’re already be tracking your entire donation process from the first point of contact to the final transactional message. The good news is you have a number of options on how to go about doing all of that while the bad news is you have a number of options on how to go about doing all of that.
If you haven’t already gone through the process of setting this sort of tracking up, you need to start that process now. It’s easier than it was at this time last year, but there are still all sorts of potential hurdles to slow you down. Fortunately, once you have everything worked out, you should be able to quickly and effectively find any chokepoints in the process and adjust accordingly.
Is the submit button on the donation form too small to easily tap on mobile screens? Is there a copy/paste URL fail mixed into your e-blast and online ads? Is there a glitchy form field preventing donors from completing the transaction? Your digital analytics will shed all sorts of light on these issues and more but only if you have the process set up properly, so contact your web developer and/or digital marketing metrics people for help.