Are Your Donation Forms Mobile Friendly?

(Guest post by Todd Turner)

Successful fundraising isn’t only about knowing your audience;  it’s also about providing tools that empower them to donate whenever and wherever they are compelled to support your cause.   Here are some tips to make your donation forms mobile friendly.

Do your forms load quickly? Mobile functionality involves more than allowing your online donation form to automatically adjust to a mobile device’s screen size or orientation, especially given the importance of a nonprofit’s ability to convert a user’s “real time” emotional response into a tangible donation. Load times for site and mobile forms should be less than five seconds — the maximum amount of time a majority of consumers report they’ll wait before abandoning an ecommerce website entirely.

Have you removed unnecessary fields? The more information you request on your mobile donation form, the more likely prospective donors will become frustrated and decide not to make a gift. Ideally, the mobile donation form itself should only include: name (with an option for one-step login with social media credentials) billing address, email (optional), phone (one contact number only, and optional) and payment choice/information. According to The NonProfit Times, the less information a person must complete, the higher the donor conversion rate.

Do you use strong calls to action?  The call to action language and type of payment security can increase the likelihood of mobile donation conversion. For example, replacing call-to-action button language with a phrase like “support [cause’s name]” in lieu of impersonal words like “submit” can increase dollars per page view.  Visible “cues” that ensure a secure payment transaction have also been shown to increase mobile donor conversion. Also, display “average” donation amounts with touch control features like “plus” or “minus” signs (instead of a drop-down menu) along with the option to type a dollar amount, to simplify the mobile donor’s checkout experience.

Have you confirmed the mobile experience for every point of entry? Does your mobile experience introduce unnecessary “steps within steps” based on the many ways donors could access your mobile donation form?  For example,  by clicking a link in an email you sent to them directly; from an email forwarded to a new supporter from an existing donor, or for visitors who come directly from your website. If you solicit a past donor through email, for example, the mobile donation form he/she is “served” should recognize him/her as a past donor and generate the relevantly stored data.  Allow  both new and returning donors to establish a login and/or sign-in — but don’t make it required. Similarly, ensure that users aren’t forced to repeat steps or go backward in the donation process, should they decide to create a login or research the average donor amounts of peers, before completing the checkout process.

Do you allow donors to use multile payment methods? Entering credit card information on a mobile device can be cumbersome. Though user rates behind mobile wallets and contactless payment tools aren’t yet widely adopted, retailer-specific wallet apps like that from Starbucks, and even virtual currency like Bitcoin are on the rise. Equipping your mobile donation form to accept these payments may require little more than inserting a bit of code (e.g. Google Wallet has a ready-made “donate” button specifically designed for nonprofits) can increase the convenience you offer donors — and likelihood you’ll convert them.

The rules of mobile consumer engagement and conversion apply as much for a nonprofit as they  do for ecommerce retailers. By ensuring that your mobile donation forms follow best practices used by ecommerce retailers, you’ll will provide donors with the mobile options that fit their lives, to build continued support for your cause.

Todd Turner is the President of LogoMagnet, a custom design magnet company that produces and distributes magnets for schools, nonprofits, sports teams and more.

Vote For Your Favorite #15NTC Sessions

This Friday, July 18 is the deadline for picking your favorite sessions / topics for next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, Texas on March 4-6, 2015.

To help you navigate the long list of submissions, below are some of my favorite ideas organized by topic, many which I’ve spoken and/or blogged about:

Giving Effective Online Presentations

Maintaining Better Nonprofit Data

Multichannel / Integrated Communications & Fundraising

Mobile / Responsive Strategies

Project Management / Agile 


Website Design

Working with Vendors / Consultants

User Adoption – What to Do AFTER the Launch

If that’s not enough to whet your interest, below are some other sessions worth voting for:

As you’ll notice, there are many sessions with similar topics that will probably be combined.  Pick your favorite submissions and make next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference most relevant to your needs.

When Are People Most Likely to Donate?

(Guest post by Kristen Gramigna)

Knowing your audience well enough to communicate when they will most likely respond to your call to action is a basic tenet of marketing. But putting that theory into practice presents additional complexity for nonprofits,  particularly when asking constituents to commit money to an intangible cause.  Properly timing when you solicit donations can improve the success of your fundraising campaign.

Below are findings about donor behavior that can help gauge when your supporters are most likely to donate.

  • When they’re in good company: Regardless of the generosity donors may want to show your nonprofit, research indicates they’re more likely to give when they can form social connections, e.g. through a silent auction, black tie event or a fundraising effort held in a group setting where they are surrounded by like-minded people. “The emotional rewards associated with giving to friends or acquaintances are greatest in situations that facilitate social connection,” from  Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings?
  • When they feel familiar with the cause:  Donors and prospects may not know a person directly impacted by their gift, but creating a sense of familiarity between recipient, donor, and your cause can enhance how happy donors feel after giving. Theoretically, they’re more likely to give again when they feel good about doing so. Just as ongoing interaction helps strangers become acquaintances, your nonprofit’s ability to leverage online fundraising tools that use integrated processing for recurring donation and interaction can enhance the sense of familiarity donors feel with your cause. Offering a one-time sign up and an easily accessible donor database that automatically fills in form fields, will make it easier for donors to make consistent, recurring donations, and to feel “recognized” as a continued supporter — even if they donate less frequently.
  • When they’re emotionally impacted:  Online donation forms that allow donors to give instantly via credit/debit card enhance your ability to be available for donors when they feel compelled to support your cause.  Online donation forms should display well on various screen sizes and orientations, so a donor can easily input their payment information (or retrieve their account from a past donation) from anywhere, at any time.
  • When they can boost their image with others: Being charitable can speak positively to a person’s image and boost how others perceive them. By giving donors the option to share the news of their donation on social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, they can reap the emotional payoff of donating without seeming like they’re trying to “brag” about their donation. (Make sure that you also give the donors the ability to conceal the amount they donated, or, not to share at all.)  Social proof can also help you build your reach and potential donor base further, by way of your donors’ social networks
  • When they feel selfless: It seems logical that giving the donor a thank-you gift would increase their likelihood to give, but some research indicates otherwise. In  “The Counterintuitive Effects of Thank-You Gifts On Charitable Giving,” Yale researchers found that when presented with the idea of receiving a gift in exchange for a donation, donors felt selfish; in turn, they were less likely to donate as much money. To counter this problem, be mindful of how you present thank-you gifts to donors, and what you offer. For example, per Charities: Don’t Thank Your Donors with a Gift, combining the positive social payoffs that incentivize donations with a gift (like an invitation to an exclusive donors-only event) can eliminate the feeling of selfishness.

Timing is everything when it comes to finding donor support for your cause.   Putting these best practices into action in your fundraising efforts can help your messages reach your donors when they are most likely to respond positively.

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, offering non-profit credit card processing solutions. The brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.

How to Get the Most from a Webinar (and who to take them with)

Attending a webinar online is a great way to keep up your skills and connect with others in the nonprofit community.   To get the most value from an online event:

  1. As tempting as it may be, minimize multitasking.  If you can’t focus on the session you’re attending, find out if there will be a recording available (most do provide this) then listen at a time you can focus
  2. Ask questions.  (You’ll learn more that way.)  Many session presenters (including me) prefer an interactive format and welcome questions at any time, not only at the presentation’s end.
  3. Take notes – and share with your coworkers.  Writing things down will reinforce the ideas
  4. Share key ideas over social media channels (but be careful about focusing too much on this – see tip #1)
  5. Do your job first.  Make sure your webinar participation doesn’t interfere with getting your work done and be prepared to stop listening if an office situation requires your attention

Fortunately, there are many organizations / individuals offering great content in free or low-cost webinars.  For example:

But while webinars are great,  don’t forget about also going to live events where you can interact with our community in person.  And anytime you’re at an in-person meeting, please minimize use of your smart phone.  I’ve attended meetings where practically everyone is constantly on their phone – be where you are!

What Do YOU Want to Talk About at #15NTC?

15NTCWant to get the most out of next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (#15NTC)?  Submit an idea for a session – the deadline is Sun, Jun. 22.

I’ve presented several times in the past, and it’s always been a great experience.   By participating in a session, you:

  1. can highlight what you’ve accomplished at your nonprofit
  2. become more of an expert in your topic.   It really is true: The best way to learn something is to teach it to others
  3. form deeper relationships with others who are presenting with you (most conference sessions involve multiple speakers)
  4. learn more about a strategy you’re newly implementing at your organization
  5. enhance your skills as a public speaker, which can be especially helpful at your current job and in your career
  6. share your knowledge with others in the nonprofit community
  7. insure that the conference will be especially relevant to your current needs

You don’t have to present;  you can also propose an idea that you’d like others to talk about.   But either way, submit your proposal by June 22.  It will make your conference experience all the more rewarding.   (Then mark your calendar – we’ll be in Austin, Texas next year from March 4-6, 2015.)

How to Create a Long Term Stewardship Strategy

Leah Merrill(Guest post by Leah Merrill)

 Many nonprofits focus primarily on acquiring additional contributions, but it’s equally important to keep the donors you already have.   Having a plan for how you’re going to engage and thank donors, and to nurture them are crucial to keeping them connected to your organization.

Below are a few tips to implement a long-term stewardship strategy:

1. Have a written stewardship plan.

Once you formulate your plan, write it down. Here is an example you can use to help you come up with your own plan. This stewardship plan will be a guide for your organization to organize donations and take care of your donors.

The plan should go over how and when you should thank your donors, who should manage it, the ways you intend to manage your donor relationships, and how much money you would like to raise. Include in your plan your process for stewardship recognition (yearly donor lists, events, and awards).

2.  Make sure that you run reports.

Stay in touch with your donors to keep them informed and up to date (via e-mail updates, reports, meetings, newsletters, etc.) on how you’re using the money they give and the impact on your community.  A good membership management software system will take the hassle out of doing this often and in a timely manner.

3.  Appoint someone to manage the stewardship.

While everyone in your organization should be included in the stewardship plan and process, it’s helpful to put one person in charge of preparing and managing the stewardship plan.

When one person is in charge of managing, monitoring, double-checking, and coming up with new ideas, there is less room for error and things ‘falling through the cracks.’ When too many are involved, people may assume work was done by someone else, and tasks may get overlooked.

What other techniques have you used to encourage your supporters to stay connected with your organization over time?

(From Norman – Also see this insightful free ebook from Blackbaud, Show the Love: Thoughtful Engagement to Retain Donors.)

Leah Merrill is a Software Analyst for Capterra, where she specializes in helping membership administrators find membership management software. When she’s not helping associations and nonprofit organizations find the right software on the Capterra Membership Management Blog, you’ll find her reading, writing, and spending time with her family and friends. Follow Capterra on Twitter at @CapterraMemMgmt.

How to Kick Off a New Project

This week my organization continued work on the project mentioned in my last post, Is Your Nonprofit Prepared for an Agile Project  with a series of meetings with many of our users and the vendor/consultant.

Here’s why I think it went very well:

  1. We made sure all stakeholders had an opportunity to be at the table.  I encouraged everyone to participate, and adjusted our schedule for some who had very limited time availability.
  2. At my boss’s suggestion, we scheduled some meetings with multiple users/departments at the same time, allowing them to validate each other’s comments.
  3. Our vendor/consultant listened closely to our staff’s feedback and took copious notes.
  4. We spent a few hours developing a database model to best serve everyone’s needs (it’s much harder to change this later)
  5. I made sure our Executive Director had dedicated time to ask pointed questions about how the new system would be built.
  6. Even though this system won’t be built internally, both of our programmers were fully involved in all discussions so they can better support and enhance the system later.
  7. After the meetings, I thanked everyone for their participation – and reminded them that we would need their help throughout the process to ensure a successful result.

Time will tell if things work out, but I think we’re off to a great start.

Is Your Nonprofit Prepared for an Agile Project?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about using agile methodology to manage projects, as detailed in the Agile Manifesto.  The idea of generating usable deliverables in an accelerated timeframe sounds promising, and it may help reduce the high rate of project failures that have plagued nonprofits (and for profits) in recent years.

But as I’m discovering during a recently launched project at my organization, using an agile approach – whether the work is done internally or by a consultant – requires a re-education of staff and management who are accustomed to a more traditional planning (i.e. waterfall model) process.

While project managers are probably familiar with how agile works, especially if you’re a member of the Project Management Institute, most of our colleagues are not.  So part of your ‘plan’ needs to include explaining why this approach is being used, and what stakeholders can expect during implementation.

But of course, using an agile methodology is no guarantee that a project will be successful.  But the idea of cutting a large scope into smaller chunks that can be implemented sequentially is easier to manage – and reduces the risk that by the time you have rolled out a product,  user requirements have substantially changed.

What has your experience been with agile projects?

It’s Up to Us to Help Seniors to Go Online

This week I attended ‘A New Age for New York,’ sponsored by JASA, an organization which provides a wide range of services for seniors.  A morning session featured Kathryn Zickuhr from Pew Internet discussing their recently released report,  Older Adults and Technology Use.

Some report highlights:

  • 6 of 10 seniors are online,  fewer than the general public (87%) but this gap has been narrowing.
  • More seniors tend to access Internet and have high speed connections  who are in mid to late 60’s, have higher income ($75,000 or higher), and are college graduates.
  • Most seniors have cell phones (77% vs. 91% public), but fewer have smart phones (18% vs. 55% public).
  • Once seniors go online, they view digital technology as an essential resources that become an integral part of their lives.
  • Top motivations for going online: communicating with family and friends (75%),  shopping (58%) and health information (53%).   Kathryn also pointed out that many government provided services today are provided over the Internet.

Many seniors attending the session were not shy about expressing their views.  One attendee marveled how Skype had allowed her to reconnect with family and how Wikipedia offers information on practically any topic (although not all of it is 100% accurate).  Another described how she had become tech literate by attending computer classes at the NY Public Library.

Another said, “I don’t want to tell everyone what I’m doing from moment to moment” (but it’s very possible to enjoy social networking without sharing excessive information about yourself).    A more skeptical senior said “We have to be shown the benefits of how accessing the Internet will help us.”

If you still believe that older adults are not interested in going online like the rest of us, think again.  With a little help and encouragement, they can learn and can vastly improve their ability to stay connected with others and to access resources on the Internet.  It’s up to us to give them the opportunity to do so.

In addition to JASA, I’m also currently working with these great organizations which help seniors to live better lives: Dorot, Selfhelp Community Services (which provides a great Virtual Senior Center program to help seniors learn from home).  and Older Adults Technology Services, which provides an incredible resource for older adults at Senior Planet.

Addendum 5/24/14
For a great inter-generational story on how seniors can learn, watch the documentary Cyber-Seniors (see site for screening locations).


7 Tips for Becoming More Successful at your Nonprofit

Even if you’re an expert in online communications, fundraising and technology, knowledge alone won’t insure success at your organization.  Try these 7 tips to improve your effectiveness:

  1. Even if you’re already sharing useful data on social media, look for ways to specifically help your colleagues, especially those NOT in your own department.  Learn what their priorities are, and how you can help.
  2. Even if he/she doesn’t ask for it, keep your boss regularly informed about what you’re working on.  Schedule in person meetings when you can, don’t just communicate by email
  3. Attend all organization events, which will give you an opportunity to socialize with staff you don’t regularly work with
  4. If you attend a conference or other out of office activity, bring back the knowledge you gain to your nonprofit, whether or not they encourage you to attend or reimburse you for event fees.
  5. Document your work so that others can understand it.  It’s easier to do this on an ongoing basis then later when you move to a new role either inside or outside the organization.
  6. Let others know when you’re planning to be out – don’t surprise them with an out of office message on the day you leave for vacation.
  7. If your organization has multiple offices, schedule regular visits to other sites so you can get to know the staff there and learn more about their operations than you’ll ever get by email alone.

What tips would you add?

Bridging Technology, Communications & Development for Nonprofit Organizations