How online fundraising professionals can optimize donation pages

Shopping cart and donation abandonment can negatively impact nonprofit fundraising objectives.
Date Published
05/29/2014

Getting donors over the finish line can be a challenge during online fundraising events. This issue is seen by many organizations in the for-profit world in getting shoppers to commit to their purchases using e-commerce storefronts. The truth that many nonprofit organizations face is online giving is a double-edged sword. It’s usually very easy to make a contribution in a quick timeframe, but it’s just as easy for people to abandon the donation page in rapid fashion.

Keep them interested and engaged
One way that e-retailers have responded to the issue of shopping cart abandonment is making the cart itself a more intuitive and useful apparatus for people track and manage their purchases. Direct Marketing News cited a study conducted by the online retail solutions providers Bronto and Magento that asked customers about their use of the e-commerce shopping carts. Frequent shoppers – people who shop online daily or weekly – are most likely to use a summary function that allows shoppers to modify their order, such as size and quantity, help customers make a decision more quickly and keeps them engaged in the process.

What’s more, more than 8 in 10 of frequent shoppers create wish lists for items they’d prefer to purchase at a later date. According to DMNews, this function helps support shoppers as they consider their purchases and the amount of money they’re willing to spend. Meanwhile, if shoppers let items linger in their wish list or shopping cart, many e-retailers use this opportunity to reach out to them to remind them of their prospective purchase.  According the Bronto and Magento study, abandonment rates range between 70 and 80 percent, but reminder emails can increase conversions 20 percent.

How can this translate to donor behavior?
Nonprofit organizations have already incorporated shopping carts into their online giving strategy. However, one issue to address right off the bat is what to call it. Because donors aren’t really shopping at all, it might take some creativity to come up with a more philanthropic name for potential donations. For instance, charitable organizations are known for accepting gifts, so a “giving basket” might create a more accurate association for donors. This also connects with non-Internet-based fundraising tactics, such as toy drives, that ask participants to bring and deposit physical items in a given location. This type of imagery is powerful and can inspire donors to make sure their contributions reach the intended recipients.

There could be many reasons for people to abandon their donation. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve lost interest in a nonprofit group or no longer agree with its guiding principles. Especially through online donations, people can begin the process from multiple locations, including work, home and on the go. Any number of interruptions can draw them away from a nonprofit’s site, but a giving or shopping cart helps keep them near the point of completing their donation. As a result, it’s important to integrate this function so that it’s easier for donors to resume once they remember or are reminded to follow through.

At the same time, Fundraising Success Magazine highlighted the need to optimize donation pages, especially to retain high-value, recurring donors. One of the most important ways nonprofits can do this is to make sure they have integrated fundraising software with their online giving platform, which means returning donors don’t have to create new login credentials – including, a username and password – each time they decide to give. This information should be securely stored so that they can focus on contributing to a campaign that is most important or meaningful to them. In addition, donation pages should be straightforward. The magazine suggested not asking donors for an excessive amount of ancillary information before they make a donation. These extra steps often cause donors to abandon their contributions and hurt nonprofits fundraising goals.

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