Nonprofits flunk online fundraising test

Nonprofits are creating online hurdles for donors, and as a result are missing the chance to raise millions of dollars, if not billions, a new report says.

While online giving accounts for only about 6 percent of total charitable gifts, “charities put up unnecessary roadblocks to donors giving online,” Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company, says in a statement.

The inaugural Online Fundraising Scorecard, a study by Dunham+Company and Next After, reviewed the websites of 151 organizations over nine months in 2013, signed up to receive emails, and made an initial $20 gift.

The study looked at 56 key indicators in four key aspects of online fundraising, including email registration, email communication, the donation experience, and the gift acknowledgement process.

Among the organizations in the study, 127 scored 75 or below.

Results of the study, combined with research showing that over two in three online transactions are abandoned, led to the conclusion that “there are millions — if not billions — of dollars being left on the table,” Dunham says. “Virtually every charity could improve the online giving experience for donors.”

In the area of email registration, 76 percent of charities make it easy to find their email signup form, although 66 percent of email signup provides little-to-no interest to potential donors, and 84 percent of charities present a non-exclusive signup offer, or one that is appealing because the donor cannot get it anywhere else, the study says.

Big factors in determining the success of  online fundraising, the study says, are the frequency and manner in which charities communicate with donors.

Yet over one in three organizations studied did not send a single email to new subscribers within the first 20 days of signing up, 79 percent of emails do not personalize the “to” line with a first and last name, and 56 percent of organizations did not make a single ask in the first 90 days.

In the area of online donation experience, 80 percent of organizations studied do present a clear call-to-action, and 85 percent have a landing page design that matches the email, yet 84 percent were not optimized for mobile viewing, the study says.

And in the area of gift acknowledgement, while 99 percent of organizations understand the importance of thanking a donor, the study says, 63 percent did not offer a donor “next steps” to take.

Todd Cohen

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