Recurring Giving and Nonprofits

Three simple questions before you implement recurring giving

Acumen’s mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. For the past few days, I have been trying to understand how Nonprofits have developed their most important tool “Website” for online fundraising and what could be the major learnings. Elevation has compiled an exhaustive list of 200 Nonprofit websites under various categories for inspiration. This is how I landed on Acumen’s beautiful website.

The Donate button is placed at one end of your mobile screen and when you click on it you are given choices - Give Once, Give Monthly, Become a Partner and Other Ways to Give. However, when you land on to the donation page it provides you both options such as Donate Once and Donate Monthly. Isn’t that confusing or misleading when I have selected that I would like to donate once. Take a look at the screengrab:

The donate form is a never-ending list of data collection, even though most of them are not mandatory. As a marketer, I understand data gathering is embedded in our cells but isn’t donation the primary objective. Why increase frictions and donor anxiety on a donation page. Minimise them as much possible, remove the fields that are redundant and simplify the process for the donor.

Read: How can you make Donation Pages effective

Food For The Hungry, a Nonprofit organization that seeks to end all forms of poverty has a simplistic approach. The mobile site has a neatly placed “Sponsor a Child” button that asks you to sponsor a child which is basically a monthly or a recurring donation feature.

The world of online fundraising is complex and the option of recurring donations makes it more complex. Certainly, this feature gives a slight breathing space to Nonprofits but at the same time the questions for a donor is multiplied:

  • Why should I give to your organization?

  • And why should I give you monthly or quarterly donations?

Value Proposition is a big thing and if you think you have figured it out then the option for Recurring Donation should be visible to the donor on your web and mobile. However, it isn’t always the case. According to NextAfter: 3 out of 4 Nonprofit organizations did not have a separate call to action for recurring donations.

The vast majority of organizations were relying on you to want to donate and then once you were there to find the option to give a recurring gift. But if we want donors to find the online recurring giving option faster and easier—and we do because those donors are so valuable—then perhaps we need to help guide them there with specific calls to action or in the navigation.

Another major roadblock or let’s just say one of the most important for Recurring Donation is - “Why should someone become a recurring donor?” or the value proposition question you need to answer for donors is actually more like:

“Why should I give a recurring gift to this organization, instead of a one-time donation, and rather than some other organization, or not at all?”

According to NextAfter: “Only 9% of NonProfits used a specific value proposition language on their donation page for online recurring giving. Why should I give a recurring gift to this organization, instead of a one-time donation, and rather than some other organization, or not at all?”

Save The Children India, the NonProfit that is working for the future of children in India has a bold Donate button right at the top of the mobile screen. But when you click on the button you land up on the page which is asking for one time donations or recurring(monthly) donations. The value proposition as I understand is that I can transform the lives of children and the Nonprofit runs only on donations. Is that enough for me to become a monthly donor? 

The donation form has small informative texts highlighted with different options of donation. Confusing, why should I give monthly donations and way too many frictions.

Children International with the mission of connecting people around the world in the fight to end poverty has a well defined one time giving and recurring donation or sponsoring options. The sponsor option is not just about donation but it is about getting to know the children waiting to be sponsored, how to sponsor a child, and the details of child sponsorship to take you in confidence. It is encouraging to see that the organization places “Accountability” at the top in the “About Us” section on its website.

Similarly when you sponsor a child on Food For Hunger, the portal how donated money can transform a child’s life and has an elaborate section defining “Why sponsor a child with Food for the Hungry?”

The section covers what is the child blessed with and what does the donor benefit from the act of giving monthly. At least it is a sizeable amount of effort from the organization rather than just asking money just because on moral grounds.

For instance, Conservation has a clear call to action for one time and monthly donation on its website and the donation page is perfect with zero frictions elaborating how it is safe to give.

However, I am not able to understand why should I become a monthly donor. Looks like the assumption is that I already know from the website or I should subscribe to email updates to know more about how the organization is saving the environment. Trust me this is just adding more frictions to the donation journey.

Finally, if a donor has sorted out where to make a recurring donation and was inspired enough to try and complete one, the last step of giving, completing the form, was often invasive, complicated, or confusing. According to Nextafter research:

“We were asked more and more personal information on the donation page. Generally, the more form fields and information you are asking for from a donor, the less likely they are to actually go on and complete their donation. For example 1 in 4 organizations collected a phone number in the donation flow.”

Recurring Donations should be a feature that Nonprofit should adopt but before you implement ask these three simple and important questions:

  • Why should I give a recurring gift to this organization? 

  • Do you have a different call to action

  • And how seamless it is to make the recurring donations.

P.S. Did the article give value to your time? If yes then can you do a one-time donation to my ongoing fundraising campaign for COVID-19. Donation Link. If no, come on I am trying hard. Thank You!