How to Reduce Donation Friction

When I was in Business School, we had a guest presenter in my Entrepreneurship class who was one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems. He made the profound statement that has stuck with me all through the years, “People buy with their emotions and justify their purchases with their intellect.”

This observation is true — especially for donations.

Donating to a cause is an emotional action. But emotions are fleeting. It’s just the nature of who we are. Feelings dissipate with each second that passes after the emotional trigger.

Fundraisers must understand that the desire to donate to their cause has a very very short shelf-life. The longer it takes a person to follow through and make the donation, the more likely he won’t.

Recurring donations are not the answer either. First of all, a donor still has to be motivated in order to sign up in the first place. Secondly, according to a 2013 study by Blackbaud, recurring donations only account for less that 15% of all donations.

There’s no escaping the fact that non-profits, faith-based, and political organizations are still dependent upon individuals making donations one at a time.

Fundraisers, like Olympic athletes, must scrutinize their donation processes and identify any areas where they can shave precious seconds off each step of the way.

Step One: Reduce donation friction starting with your communications

Ask yourself, “how can I trigger the emotional response to donate that much quicker?”

Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing and Communications at NonProfitEasy offers these three keys to reducing donation friction:

  • Track your donor’s preferred communication channel in your donor database.
    • Using that information, you can send your asks to the outlet that is both the easiest for them to use and the one that’s most likely to result in a positive response, i.e. a donation.
    • Before using this information, make sure that you have a clean database. Nothing is worse than a CRM cluttered with duplicate entries, incorrect data points, and incomplete donor profiles.
  • Segment your donors within your nonprofit CRM.
    • Grouping similar donors for communications lets nonprofits personalize the correspondences without sacrificing much extra time and effort. Donors want to be treated like individuals, not cogs in a larger fundraising machine.
  • Make sure that your email newsletter contains clear messaging regarding your campaign and a direct link back to the online donation page.
    • The same applies for any campaign promotion across social media. Your donors are busy people.
    • Ensure that they can quickly skim your content and clearly understand the ask you’re making and how they can donate.

Step Two: Look at your donation collection process itself.

If you don’t have a way to receive donations online, then obviously that is Priority One. Fortunately, there are many providers of online fundraising services — two of them are already mentioned in this article.

Tim Kachuriak, Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer of NextAfter, continues to be the definitive evangelist for reducing donation friction in online forms. His latest presentation provides highly valuable insight.

Step Three: Eliminate the need for the donation form altogether.

You accomplish this by introducing express donation technologies. The ultimate goal of all express donation technologies is to make giving so seamless that it turns your one-time donors into repeat donors.

Think of it this way: would you really have downloaded that many songs if you had to get your credit card out and fill out a form every time you wanted to do so? Price isn’t the issue. Ease of payment is.

Make sure your online donation capture form has an express donation option. Express donations — just like any other express payment service (e.g. iTunes, Amazon Kindle, XBox, Playstation, etc.) — requires the donor to first create an account and register his payment information. Build it into your donation process from the start.

There are different types of express donation technologies available to choose from.

  • Web-Based – The most basic form is a link that takes donors to an online form where they enter their login credentials. Once authenticated, the payments are made automatically. More recent versions use tokenized encryption schemes and embed them in browser cookies to eliminate the need to repeatedly log in. Web-based express donation technologies are popular because they can be used in e-newsletters and QR Codes too.
  • Text Messaging – As mentioned in a previous article, Text-to-Give is gaining in popularity because it’s quick, easy, and it’s mobile. It’s also a great way to bridge the gap between paper communications and online giving. If your message has moved your readers to support your cause, then let them instantly give while the emotions are still strong. Clear text-to-give instructions should be printed on all mailings. Just make sure you go with a Text-to-Give provider that can protect you from SMS spoofing.
  • Mobile Apps – apps with embedded wallets may be good for shopping, but are they right for your organization? According to a report from Localytics, over 60% of mobile apps are opened no more than 10 times in a year — that’s less than once a month. Is there anything special about your donors that they will go through the trouble of downloading your app and use it for donations? How compelling can you make your app’s content such that your supports will open it repeatedly?
  • Email-Based – this type of express donation technology is @Pay’s specialty. The advantage to this approach is that it eliminates the need to create a user account and remember (yet another) login ID and password — or worse yet — have it hacked. Email addresses are already unique and email already has ten years of industry-standard authentication built in. By now, everyone has an active email account and it’s included in every mobile device regardless of manufacturer. @Pay’s express donation emails can be triggered from any source including emails, mobile web pages, text messages, and QR codes. Our express donation technology enables fundraisers to give their supporters a consistent user experience across all communication channels. Try a demo of @Pay’s express donation technology right now.

Donating to a cause is an emotional response.

Continue to find ways to reduce donation friction and shave off every precious second between the time you’ve successfully triggered the response to the fulfillment of the donation.

Analyze your communication strategies to shorten the time it takes to trigger the desire to give.

Use express donation technologies to virtually eliminate any thought process around the act of donating. The best way to increase your donation revenue is to decrease your donation friction.

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