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How to Double Online Giving in Six Months

February 11, 2016

More and more of the giving to nonprofits is taking place online, which means it's critically important that your online storefront is not only open for business but is optimized.

OnlinegivingAs part of my research on this topic for my new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, I interviewed Roderick Campbell, CEO of nonprofit fundraising platform CommitChange, who was kind enough to share a few takeaways from his organization's efforts to maximize digital donations for Mercy House, a $3.8 million nonprofit that has provided housing and support to California's homeless population since 1989.

The changes outlined below helped Mercy House double online giving to the organization in just six months — and I believe they can do the same for your nonprofit:

1. Break it down: CommitChange helped Mercy House break the donation process down into four steps: recurring versus one-time; amount; info; and payment. Instead of asking for the information all at once, CommitChange simplified the process, which is especially helpful for donors in the habit of contributing via their mobile device. Another great example of what this looks like is charity: water, which is also profiled in the book.

Whatever your process, be sure to look closely at recurring giving, as it is the category most likely to create valuable ongoing funding for your cause and increase average gift size (people are more likely to donate $10 a month than $120 in a single go). A simple tweak here and there can yield great results: By leading with the recurring gift option, Mercy House increased the number of donors willing to sign up as a sustaining member of the organization by 400 percent!

2. Be consistent: The data proves what we all know in our gut: Nobody likes to feel like they're leaving your website when they hit the "Donate" button. So be sure to keep the look and feel of your donation page consistent with the design and tone of your website and other communication materials and make sure your organization's logo is visible throughout the donation process. This simple change helped Mercy House convert more of the people who clicked "donate" into actual supporters while simultaneously increasing its average gift size.

3. Streamline the process: Less is more, which is another way of saying once someone clicks "donate," your job is to make the donation process as easy as possible. In fact, CommitChange discovered that every field eliminated from the donation experience increases conversion rates by 2 percent. And it was further able to optimize conversion rates by adding some simple programming so that when Mercy House website visitors click the donate button, a new tab opens up exclusively dedicated to the process, ensuring a closed environment free of distractions.

By making these three simple changes, Mercy House was able to improve online giving totals by 110 percent in just six months, and it didn't stop there. The organization continued to enjoy the fruits of its labor and saw an additional 73 percent increase in the six months after that. The point is, if you take the time to build a solid foundation for the house that is your online giving experience, the sky is the limit as to what is possible.

Headshot_darien_rodriguezDarian Rodriguez Heyman is an accomplished fundraiser, social entrepreneur, and best-selling author. His work to "help people who help" started during his five-year tenure as executive director of the Craigslist Foundation. Heyman also is an in-demand fundraising consultant and a frequent keynote speaker at social impact events around the globe. His new book, Nonprofit Fundraising 101, is the "first truly comprehensive yet practical guide to all aspects of fundraising for your cause."

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