Online Donations: make it easy

A review of several children’s hospital websites shows some clever ideas – and also shows that many have a long way to go to fully embrace digital fundraising.

Below are eight important elements of an online donation process. How well does your children’s hospital measure up to these best practices?

  1. Make your donation page easy to find. Web visitors who come to your site to make a gift need to find the “Donate” button quickly. Readability studies continue to show that site visitors scan a web page, across the top, then down the left side. So, your donation button should be in one (or, better yet, both) of those places.CHFR_home
  2.  One click to the Online Form. When people click “Donate Now” they want to donate now. Not in three or four more clicks. Don’t link a “Donate Now” to a page about the development department, or one that lists various ways people can give via gifts of stock, etc. Bring them to the form. 
  3. Make the form easy to fill out. First, determine how much they want to give, and give them options (but not too many) about monthly giving, tribute giving, or gifts to a particular fund. Then ask who they are, and finally, get the payment information. Ask as few questions as you can get away with. Make the form easy to fill out.
  4. Make it idiot-proof.  • Don’t make donors type in their email address twice, to verify it. • Don’t make donors choose a particular fund to direct their giving. Most tribute donors, and many grateful family members, have no idea what all your funds are for. • Don’t use shopping cart technology. It’s clumsy. It frustrates donors. By now, they’re used to real online donation processing
  5. Give them a choice to make their gift a monthly one. An amazingly large number of donors (in our experience, up to 20% for some charities) chose to start a monthly commitment with their first online gift. Yet, 60% of the children’s hospitals we surveyed do not offer this option.
  6. Accept PayPal. There are 132 million PayPal accounts, and they all exist for only one reason: so people can spend money online. I don’t always have my credit card information handy, but I can always give by PayPal.
  7. Send a good “thank-you” email right away… then another one after that. ACHF-TKUBy the way my definition of a “thank-you” email includes the words “Thank you” in the subject line, and in the opening line of the message. “Gift Acknowledgement” or “Your gift has been processed” is NOT the same.
  8. Make the “thank-you” page and email a continuation of the conversation, not the end. Most “thank-you” pages and emails offer no further opportunity for engagement. It’s the best place on the internet to get someone who’s just done exactly what you want, to share the news, or learn more about your research, or your caregivers. Offer links to your latest video. Invite them to share with their Facebook friends that they just made a gift.

For a full copy of the report, email me. If you’d like your children’s hospital to be a part of our study moving forward, just ask. There’s no fee. In fact, you actually will receive at least one gift!


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