Nonprofits must improve online, mobile donation options

February 6, 2014

Nonprofits must improve online, mobile donation options

Nonprofits have taken advantage of the many cost-effective solutions provided by the Internet, such as email communication, social media and crowdfunding. However, a recent study suggests that they may not be doing enough to improve the amount of donations they receive over the Web.

"The Online Funding Scorecard," a study by nonprofit fundraising firm Dunham and Company, gave most nonprofits a mediocre or failing grade when measured against online best practices. For nonprofits that are struggling to come up with cash, improving online donations should be high on the list of adjustments to make in the coming year.

Nonprofits don't provide a clear message
The study found that follow up was a significant issue faced by nonprofits using online marketing. Of the 151 organizations surveyed, 38 percent didn't send an email within 30 days following the addition of new subscribers. When nonprofits did reach out, 36 percent provided multiple or conflicting calls to action. As for-profit online marketers know, the call to action is what takes an e-newsletter reader or website visitor and convinces them to become a client. For nonprofits, that means making it clear that a donation is needed and directing them where to go to make one.

Organizations missing out on mobile options
CNN Money recently reported that nearly 66 percent of cellphone users access the internet through their device, double the amount who did so in 2009. Furthermore, Business Insider said mobile is on pace to eclipse desktop Internet usage this year. However, a study by Dunham and Company found that 84 percent of surveyed nonprofits did not have mobile-optimized donation solutions.

With money tight, digital solutions can be a tricky investment to sell to board members and the capital to do so simply may not be available. However, the study suggests that poor optimization of Web marketing for online donations could be costing nonprofits a lot of money. Those who intend to give to a charity may give up if the online process to do so is tedious or confusing. This could mean that a sizable amount of donations are left on the table. Whether or not the donations lost suggest the need for better solutions is up to individual nonprofits to sort out. One cheap way to get started could be taking advantage of Facebook's new donate button for nonprofit pages.

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