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Why Should People Give You An Online Donation?

Cap I ran across the donation request box on the right while surfing the Internet. Initially I didn’t give it much thought.  It’s a donation request just like all the other donation requests, right?  Upon brief study I noticed something a little different - "please" repeated four times. It gave donation box a sense of urgency - but not in a good way.  Finally I ended up clicking on the “Make a Donation” button just to satiate my curiosity.  After the click, there were no further details indicating how my donation was going to be used.

Wishful Thinking
What is the probability of someone just clicking on a donation button shown? I would argue slim to no chance. The button above gives no compelling reason to donate. If you are asking for donations online you need to compel users to take action.  I contacted the site owner to inquire how the donation would be used. They never replied.

Low Donation Barriers
Online donations have far few barriers for their donors.  Compare this with offline donations.  In the offline world you normally get a donation request letter.  Usually they have a self addressed envelope and donation cards.  If you fill out the card you then need to either enter your credit card or make out a check.  After that’s complete you seal up the envelope and drop it in the mail box.  For many people this is way too many steps.  Let's be honest, please just don't have the time. If you want to contribute online you can go to the site, get your wallet, and enter your credit card number - BOOM! your done.

Give Them a Good Reason Why
There are a small number of simple things you can do to increase the likelihood of someone donating to your cause.  The first place to start is with a good cause.  You need to give your potential donors a very good reason to donate. Don't be afraid to be descriptive. Very few people are willing to give up their hard earned money - regardless of their level of financial wealth.  It is your job to create and present a compelling reason.

Make sure that your donation button is above the fold.  It constantly needs to be in front of your audience.  Some web sites hide their donation buttons or pages in the most obscure places.  If your donation box is at the bottom of the page, you're not going to do well.

Some of the most successful donation drives are run by political organizations.  Politics is an ideal example of involving emotions into the decision making process.  "Whether online or offline, you must make your pitch, you must provide a sense of urgency, and you must make it easy to donate.” says Tom Hockaday. His firm helped John McCain raise $6.4 million dollars online for his presidential campaign. Source: Ireland & Nash, Secrets of Successful Online Fundraising: Tips for Increasing Donations

What do They Get for Their Donation?
Tell people what they are going to get for their donation.  It could be anything from a free t-shirt to an autographed copy of a book.  There needs to be a value added incentive.

It is also important to follow up with a thank you for anyone that donated. It has never been easier to automate the thank you process.  Let your donors know how their charity was used.  People are much more likely to donate to a good cause more than once if they know their money is being well spent. If you want to raise the bar even higher, send a hand-written or hard mail piece. An email thank you is nice, but it doesn't have the impact of a hand-written note.

Web donations will only increase in the coming years.  Make sure you do the simple things that encourage your target market to donate to a good cause.

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