Fundraising Websites Should Be Clear In What They Want From Visitors

Today I got an email asking me to click to help non-profit win funds to help feed the hungry. That seemed like a good thing to do, so I clicked.

But then… I was taken to another message, this time on a web page, telling me to click again. OK fine, I’ll click again. But then… the next screen told me to click again!

Where are we going here? Have I helped them win a contest, or not? Or do I need to keep clicking all day? Or do I have to “like” this first? Or do I have to tell a dozen friends first?

I suppose I could have spent the next hour there, but had other things to do, so I left. I hope I helped hungry children, but I’ll never know.

Unfortunately, this same scenario plays out on websites all over the stratosphere every day.

Small charities are often do-it-yourselfers when it comes to web creation.

Perhaps because small charities don’t always have a budget to pay for professional help, their copy is written by any volunteer who did well in High School English class. With no training in the psychology of copywriting and / or fundraising, they make some expensive mistakes.

One of the most harmful is telling about the cause, but failing to ask for a donation. The creators assume that once you read why the cause is so worthy, you’ll hurry up and give. Unfortunately, they do this in newsletters and free fundraising sites letters, too. And sometimes it’s an error made on purpose.

Once I wrote a fundraising letter for a dog rescue – and one of the members insisted that “the ask” be removed. She thought it was “pushy” to come right out and ask for money.

What she didn’t know and didn’t want to hear was this: The strange truth is that a good number of people won’t give unless you ask. Her insistence cost the group money, I have no doubt.

You absolutely must make it easy to give.

The second mistake is not telling visitors how to give. Non-profit sites should include both a prominently displayed on-line donate button, such as Pay Pal, and a mailing address for use by those who choose not to enter financial information on line. They should also include a phone number.

Why a phone number? Because some people want to call to see if the group is “real” before they part with their money. And well they should. If you think about how many crooks are operating on the web, making a phone call is a wise precaution.

The donate button, the address, and the phone number should be displayed on each page of the website, because you never know what will trigger that giving spirit.

Let an outsider check.

If your small non-profit is about to go public with a new website, or even if you already have one, get a non-member to visit that site for you. Get someone who doesn’t already know what they’re going to find, and who will look at it objectively.


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