Seriously, have you seen Pizza Hut's site lately? Or their apps? They make ordering a pizza about as easy as sitting down on the couch. They make it so easy you'd be crazy not to order a pizza from them, or get distracted halfway through and never complete the form.
They make it so easy you'd be crazy not to order a pizza from them, or get distracted halfway through and never complete your order, or decide it's a pain and go to another pizza maker's site. Take a clue from Pizza Hut. Make giving online donations to your school, organization, or cause as easy as possible. Make it so easy they can't say no. And if they even think about saying no, use peer pressure to push them back into the "yes" column. Easier said than done, you say? I agree; being easy is hard work. It goes against what most of us are taught growing up. I'm going to give you a crash course, right here, right now. Then it's up to you to put on your "easy" outfit and do your thing. And don't say I never gave you anything useful!
Don't be vague about what you are asking for.
Be clear. But be realistic. Sure, you want everyone to give $1,000, but it's easier to give $10. So take the easy route—ask for $10. Cheap isn't bad. If you get more givers, you can still come out ahead. It's worked for Walmart (the easy of retail); it's worked for Zappos (the easy of shoe buying); it's worked for Southwest (the easy of flying); and it can work for you, too. So be clear, and be realistic, and don't be afraid to be cheap.
Don't make the cheapskates feel bad.
If you want $10, ask for $10. Don't give people a range from $10 to $25 to $100 to $500, because then those that would have been happy to give $10 now feel like cheap bastards as they see all the other options on your list. If you must, leave a "set your own number" area, but just stick with a nice low easy range, and don't make the lowest givers feel the worst. Make them feel like the winners!
Peer pressure works, and people love to brag about good deeds.
Let your donors shout to the world that they have "GIVEN!" to the cause! Don't make them work at it. Build into your online donation process an automatic part that prompts them to share their good deed on Facebook and Twitter, and don't make it easy to opt out of this part (but don't do it until after they've given the cash). Pre-populate the prompt with something like, "I just helped ensure another kid like me gets a great education at X University by making a donation. Have you?" People are wallflowers; they don't like to brag if it takes too much effort, so make the message easy and to the point, so all they have to do is hit "allow" or "share" or "post."
Don't over-complicate things.
Use PayPal. Use ChipIn. Use Google Donate (some of these are just for non-profits, but you can find plenty of good options). Spend your time and energy on making the "user experience" as easy and simple as possible. If you are collecting donations in "the real world," use Square—just make it EASY! Ever wonder why Amazon introduced "One Click" to make it faster and easier for people to buy things? Of course you didn't wonder! Why wouldn't they make buying things on their site easier?
I'm a huge fan of the Savannah College of Art and Design, but when I see this online donation form my eyes start to bleed and I feel the urge to run. I gotta REALLY be in the mood to donate to put up with this. Seriously, shouldn't "I," as your potential donor, be given the nicest user experience? Instead I feel like I'm in some backroom storage area with cobwebs and an old PC terminal from 1996. After a quick scan, I can see that I'm not even CLOSE to handing over my credit card info once I do finally make it through this form. Yikes.
And Yale—I get that you want lots of information about my gift and me, but seriously, I'm BUSY! If I'm a Yale grad I'm probably super busy doing many important things, so just let me give some money already—leave all this "stuff" for later!
Hey, Greenpeace: OK,way to go on keeping it simple, but you could use a little work in the "nice looking" arena. However, as one of the longest standing do-gooder orgs out there that I can remember who's been asking for money, you get it more right than others with your simple and to-the-point donation page. And THANK YOU for letting me just jump in through PayPal and hand over my $10! Win.
And Save the Children, I commend you for helping many needy kids, but seriously, lower your donation amounts. If I want to give you $10,000, I'll probably come drop off a check in person, or have my personal assistant call you, or have my other personal assistant write the amount into the box you leave empty for us poor broke do-gooder wannabes to have to type in $20 and feel like cheap bastards. You're on the right path, but you could do a bit more to make this situation better.
Testimonial Interlude: I'm a sucker for animals, and I LOVE dogs. I've started following a few pitbull rescue orgs on Facebook, and oftentimes a dog rescuer has a situation where they have a dog that needs medical help, and they don't have the money. These people have started creating Facebook pages to plead their cases and have made great use of ChipIn to allow fast and easy online donations. I have given more money to help out dogs in last year than I EVER have to any other organization or cause (in number of times I've opted to help, not in total dollars donated—YET), and this is because they've made it so easy! My one complaint: ChipIn is a Flash widget, and therefore it doesn't work on my iPhone, where I spend lots of time browsing Facebook.
Since I'm on the animal thread: Humane Society of America, I LOVE your site and what you do for animals—but let me please donate through PayPal. I am currently sitting on my wallet, which means I'd have to roll my ass to one side to pull it out, and I'm too busy writing this blog post. But I have a PayPal account (probably like many people do), and there is money in that account, and it's tied to a credit card, so I can just hit a button, log in, and give you money. Or rather, I could have, if you'd let me. And I would have as I researched for this blog post. Maybe next time, but please don't call me. Nice site, though.
Being easy doesn't mean being outdated. Be Progressive.
Realize that many of your new potential donors aren't on your Website; they are on Facebook or Twitter—and not on their computers, but on their smartphones or their tablets. Make sure your online donation process takes advantage of these social media spaces and tools. Integrate everything so it's all happening in one place. Optimize your giving process for these mobile environments or miss out on cash—your choice. This isn't a small deal; it's a big deal, and it's going to be a HUGE deal next year—mark my words. The world is moving toward mobile, not away from it.
Want to see some more great examples of HORRIBLE donation forms? Here you go!
Got some good examples of orgs or schools asking for (and probably getting) donations? Share a link. Like this post? Share it with your network. Disagree? Let me hear about it.