Creating the smoothest and most pleasant donation process possible is a critical step in refining the overall user experience (UX) for people who use your website. The rationale for this is obvious: when you make it easy and fast for people to donate to your organization, more people will do it.
Most fundamental donor-flow improvements are traditionally made by streamlining your site to minimize the number and complexity of steps a user must complete to make a donation (reducing clicks or “friction”). This is the sort of optimization that our strategy and design teams deliver to clients all the time. However, other tools and services are quickly emerging that make it possible, even convenient, for donors to give money to your organization without ever even visiting your site.
SnapDonate is a mobile app that allows donors to give money by “snapping” a picture of your organizational logo with the camera on their mobile device. This empowers them to give immediately and on-the-go, making it a great tool for impulse giving at large, prominently branded events. In fact, SnapDonate partnered with the London marathon earlier this year for just that purpose. While it requires prospective donors to do a little work on the front end (they must connect the app to a bank account and authenticate), the act of donating itself is as easy as taking a picture and choosing the amount. It’s so user friendly in fact, that it won the 2015 People’s Voice Webby Award for its category. One current limitation is that any donations you receive through the app will default to locations in the UK if your organization has offices there, since that is where the service is based.
Since social media exploded into the mainstream, non-profits have been occupied (maybe a little obsessed…) with the difficult task of converting their fans and followers into donors. Enter hashtag donations – perhaps the easiest option yet for that purpose. Recall the massive response that played out over social media following the Nepal earthquake in early 2015. Hashtags were used not only to aid journalism around the tragic event, but also to actually direct donations and material goods to specific organizations providing relief. This kind of fundraising is becoming more and more commonplace, even in non-emergency scenarios (e.g. Giving Tuesday) so it’s smart to equip your organization with the infrastructure it needs to successfully participate.
Services like #donate and @pay empower donors and non-profits to engage rapidly and responsively to raise funds simply by tweeting or posting a pre-defined hashtag and these services are easy to set up. The downside is that processing fees can be higher than what most non-profits are used to, and the amount of donor information that your organization retains may vary depending on the service.
Apps and services like these shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for maintaining a high quality website with an easy donation flow. However, they are indicators of how fundraising and online engagement in-general are becoming less centralized and more multi-channel. As you plan your 2016 fundraising, look for ways that your organization might expand its fundraising toolkit beyond the donation form to better meet donors where they are instead of relying on them to come to you.