Measure Success Through Donation Form Testing

Testing ads is standard procedure in the advertising world when it comes to determining the effectiveness of a particular ad. It’s no different and just as essential for nonprofits. Testing gives organizations the hard data they need to guide their user experience and pinpoint the greatest impact on their fundraising efforts.

Analytics tools such as Google Analytics Content Experiments, Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer are making it easier for nonprofits to conduct testing across their brand.

Where should your organization start testing? Your online donation form provides a great opportunity to see concrete results quickly because there are a number of elements that can be tested. Think about the user experience when people come to your form to donate. Does it work as smoothly as it could? Is your form maximizing the potential give? Which elements should you test to see how donor response is affected?

Test Once, then Test Again

The American Lung Association offers a great example of how a simple test can yield big results. The organization redesigned its online donation form to simplify it and make it mobile responsive, but while the new look delivered a higher conversion rate, the average gift did not increase.

So, the organization conducted a control test to compare the redesigned “control” form with a “test” legacy ask string form. The test was designed to measure the impact of increasing the base risk (test form) and tying donation amounts to specific programs (control). The legacy ask string included donation amounts ranging from $500 down to $50, while the control form amounts ranged from $250 to $75.

Results showed that the legacy ask string generated 37 percent more gifts and 81 percent more revenue. Even though donors were offered a lower point of entry, the average gift was 32 percent higher than the control form. As successful as the legacy ask string results were, the American Lung Association isn’t satisfied with stopping there, of course. The organization has other tests planned from refining the ask string even further to revisiting tying gifts to specific programs.

Other Tests to Consider

As many as 80 percent of new donors are opting out of receiving further e-mail communications at the time they make their online gift. That data makes the unsubscribe option a key area for testing on donation forms in order to preserve as many opted in emails as possible. Are you giving donors a reason to remain opted-in? Or perhaps it’s better to ask forgiveness instead of permission when it comes to your opt-in/opt-out options?

You can also look at testing corporate matching gifts searches to understand how this ask affects donor conversion rates and if that impact is offset by more matching gifts. Finally, examining one-time donations vs. monthly giving and how to best balance long-term and short-term revenue along with immediate conversion rates is another key test organizations should be performing.

As you get started, stick with testing one element at a time to get a clearer picture of the results. As you improve your testing methodology, you can add other variables to the mix. Regardless, for testing to be effective, you need to look for areas where you are not meeting industry benchmarks, and then decide how you will measure your