Your Online Giving Page Makes Me Sad.


I read every darn direct mail solicitation that is delivered to my home mail box, but more and more I make my gifts online, even in response to a traditional written letter. I find it less trouble not to fool about with writing checks or keeping stamps during my few free hours at home, plus I like the instant gratification of giving online. And, like a lot of us, I have an airlines miles accumulating credit card for that future trip to Costa Rica.

So I give online more often than not these days. And mostly I am bummed about what I see on your online giving pages. When I give, I want to find a simple and foolproof platform for making my donation. Wha makes me so very sad when I make online gifts?

  1. Clunky Webforms. Overly complex, outdated, lengthy web forms that require more than one page to fill out are everywhere for non-profits. And some of you have 2004 webpages still that creak along, cannot easily accept credit cards, and so on A good giving page should be just as easy to navigate on my mobile as my notebook. Keep it simple!
  2. A requirement to create a log-in. If, in order to make a contribution, I have to create a password, confirm that password, confirm the creation of my account via a later email, give you my mom’s maiden name and my grade school address or any combination of the above, I probably don’t want to bother. I get that certain types of transactions make sense to create an account/membership, etc. but there should ALWAYS be an option to bypass this whole ordeal and simply give you my money.
  3. A Shopping Cart. Similarly, shopping carts are the pits, and confusing. I understand that many organizations are constrained by ticketing and other systems that want to treat contributions as a form of transaction, like concert tickets or family memberships. But the last thing we should do is make philanthropy look like a transaction. Get rid of shopping carts for online gifts.
  4. Anything at all to do with PayPal. I won’t give via PayPal any longer. Look into those guys before you commit to an online giving portal with them. Many, many ethical and bad PR challenges for Elon and Co. Generally, if you can, avoid taking your donors to 3rd party pay sites to transact gifts. It doesn’t feel good, not knowing if the money is getting to the charity. And avoid Facebook as well. Gross.
  5. Pages and Pages about your Fundraising on the Give Now page. The fact of it is that most of us go to the internet for very specific things. We don’t tend to wander websites to learn about your Case, Benefits, Donor Listings, Sponsor Logos, Planned Giving Opportunities, etc. So if you have a “Give Now” Page, and you should, make it SIMPLY that. Don’t make us scroll past Gala sponsor logos or planned giving vehicles. And would you please remove Charitable Gift Annuity as a planned giving option? You are not doing this. No one is doing this in 2019.
  6. Treating me somehow different as an online donor vs. a traditional donor. I will even make larger pledge payments online, simply for convenience. Why would you think I’d be satisfied with an online gift receipt email rather than a personal thanks from your organization? Treat every donor the same, regardless of the vehicle of giving. Are you doing this now? Are you sure?
  7. Endless, dreary emails after the gift. I have a professional interest in donor communications, and I can still barely stand most of what you are sending out. Do you think I care about the Guys Standing in Front of Their Cart from the Golf Outing or the Development Director Standing with a Big Check? I don’t. I don’t care about this. If you can’t tell compelling stories about philanthropic investment that benefits the community, don’t say anything. Don’t send donor emails unless they are good.

What do I want when I make a gift online? A simple, elegant webform, an immediate email response confirming my gift, and a thank you call after the fact. Check out Seattle Symphony – a simple interface (I don’t know anything about Stripe but I’d want to learn more if I was setting up online giving) for an example of how to do it right.

Easy breezy. Good luck with your fall fundraising!


About jeremymhatch

If I could, I'd write about nothing but tacos. Alas, I am fundraising and leadership consultant in the arts, focusing on contributed revenue growth for organizations. Send me a compliment or complaint. And the location for the good tacos in your town.
This entry was posted in Annual Fund, Fundraising, Philanthropy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Your Online Giving Page Makes Me Sad.

  1. Here! Here! So spot on. Nonprofits, are you listening??

  2. I totally agree that we should get rid of those requiring pieces of information like parent’s names and etc. These are all on point. Well done!

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