Top Tips For Online Fundraisers

red crossThe British Red Cross has recently launched a new site as reviewed by Econsultancy.

In 2009, I was part of a research group at website design agency, dotAgency,  who reviewed 15 top charity websites for our our popular charity website benchmark report:  Hitting the Heart.

The former website of the British Red Cross was one of the sites we analysed, reviewed and scored, so I was interested to see how their new website stacks against our assessment of their former site.

Getting the most from your online donation path

Part of the Hitting the Heart report focuses on the effectiveness of the donation path. Their former website had hits and misses in this section of the report:

  • There was no there DPA compliant email opt-in box at point of data collection in the donation path.
  • There was a clear choice of donation payment options and method and the site offered Gift Aid and Payroll Giving options
  • The journey offered good up-sell donation prompts
  • We received an automated  online donation email response within the hour of making a donation. However there was no email or off line follow up via phone call or direct mail as some charities did.

Donating on the new website

I was interested to see how the donation path has been re-developed on the new site so I chose to make a donation to the Pakistan Flood Appeal.

When I visit the British Red Cross website I am prompted to donate to the appeal by the main banner on the homepage. The image conveys a sense of urgency and I am invited to donate relatively high sums (£20, £50, £100) using radio buttons.

I like the fact that the page has been updated with a news bulletin section below the fold. I also get a sense my donation will contribute to something tangible from the shopping list on the page.

The site communicates well that the personal data I provide will be secure and the donation path includes an Opt-in for email communication and help pages. There is a phone number for contacting the donor care team as well as the Fundraising Standards Bureau logo. I am given the option to Gift Aid my donation.

donation 1 with date

The thank you page prompts me to:

  • sign-up for direct debit
  • tell my friends I have made a donation, by automatically updating my status on Facebook and sending a tweet on Twitter

I received the email confirmation less than 5 minutes after clicking the Submit button. So far I’m giving them top marks for the new website donation path and I look forward to the donor care follow up.

My tips for better donation paths:

  • Follow fundraising best practice and show good will by communicating to donors that you are DPA compliant and that donating is safe. Today a £10 donation is hard to win so be sure to acknowledge donations promptly. The Red Cross site has for instance a link on fraud and help pages detailing processes.
  • Make full use of social networking sites as this can create donation leads via networks of friends and families and this spreads the word for free.
  • Keep your donors updated on the work they are funding: timely news are good but  good updated blogs are more interesting.  I like how Oxfam merges fresh sticky content including video on the field and donation prompts.

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