For many of you its budgeting time, and with that comes some big decisions like; Should we invest in a total website redesign next year? Or how can we increase donations through our online form?

At Charity Dynamics we have a saying “Before you invest – Test!”  It is important to ensure that donor dollars are going where they are most needed – your mission. So before you spend a lot of money on changes that may or may not move the needle towards your goals, let’s test our assumptions to ensure we make every dollar count!  Let’s look at three recent tests to give you some ideas of what is possible and highlight some of the many testing tools available to support you.

Test #1 — How to drive more traffic to the donation form

In this first example, Nonprofit A wanted to test options that would increase traffic to its donation form. The organization used Google Analytics as the primary testing tool as they already had this in place.

The test presented a light-box, or pop-up, on the home page vs. the organizations existing donation buttons located in the header and footer. Two variations of the light-box were presented at random, with Version A appearing after 15 seconds and Version B appearing after an individual scrolled 75% of the way down the page. The light-box was designed to provide donation options, including one-time, monthly, or memorial gift, while the control presented the organization’s existing donation buttons.

Maybe not surprising but Version A resulted in the highest traffic generation. Incorporating the donation options also saw an increased in the number of memorial and monthly gifts.

Test #2 — How to Increase Donation Amount

This organization (Nonprofit B) wanted to determine the most valuable offering for their donation array – if we increase the dollar handles, will people give more?  This test was run using Optimizely as the organization had previously invested in this enterprise level platform for its ability to conduct multi-variate tests like this.

Three versions of the donation array test were set up — the control plus two test variations, and the nonprofit’s audience was split randomly among the three versions.

The control presented a standard array of $50, $100, $250, $500, and $1,000. Version A offered a lower entry point of $35 and followed with $50, $100, $250, and $500, while Version B went higher with $55, $100, $250, $500, and $1,500. Version B led across the board on all measures, including donation form completion rate and home page click-through rate, with an average donation of $144. This compared to $99 for the control and $106 for Version A, giving the organization a clear indicator of which direction to go in.

Test #3 — Should I re-design my website?

In our third example, Nonprofit C wanted to understand how their constituents were using their P2P event website to decide whether a full redesign was necessary or if certain elements could just be refreshed to improve overall performance. There were no obvious challenge areas so recommended Heat Testing to view how visitors were using the site, which could help answer this question.

Using the Crazy Egg heat-mapping tool (which you connect to your Google Analytics account), the organization was able to ensure that their site visitors weren’t experiencing a challenging User Experience. They were able to quickly and easily find their way to the registration, donate, and login buttons. The heat-mapping tool also works on long scroll pages to show where users spent the most time —not surprisingly, at the top of the page or above the fold — allowing the organization to better prioritize content placement.

Overall, the heat-mapping showed the organization’s website structure was in good shape, saving them from a costly redesign.

As you can see some tests proved the organizations assumptions and some disproved them.  In the end there was a clear path forward which has helped them all prioritize budgets and resources for the coming year. So how do you get started? First step is to develop clear and measurable goals for what you want to test.  We have a great post that talks all about setting goals and determining which actions to measure.

Hopefully, like our examples, you will obtain solid, actionable results with your own testing strategies; if not, testing that disproves a theory or assumption is just as valuable, ensuring you don’t invest in the wrong direction.