GUEST BLOG: Charity Websites; Turning Visitors into Supporters

matt

This month’s blog is from Matt Saunders, founder of Charity Box. Matt is the founder of Charity Box, a social enterprise providing cost-effective web design and online fundraising solutions to charities. With over 10 years professional experience in helping organisations of all sizes, Matt is passionate about helping the UKs third sector achieve its digital aims. Thank you Matt for sharing what you know, and for giving me a holiday from blog writing over the Christmas holidays!…Special thanks also from both of us to James Gadsby-Peet for adding your digital wisdom.

Over to Matt…

In this fast-paced age of information-overload it can be tricky enough just getting visitors onto your website. Provoking a visitor to take positive action is trickier still, but not impossible. In this article I’m going to run through some techniques that you can use to turn passing visitors into brand advocates and long-term supporters of your charity.

Start at the start
Before we delve into how to convert visitors into donors it’s important to point out that you’re sending the right kind of people to your website. You can usually curate a following on social media of like-minded people who are interested in what you do, but it’s also very easy to send the wrong type of traffic. For example, if you advertise on Google Ads it can take a lot of refinement to ensure people are not visiting your website through similar, but ultimately unrelated keywords. Being mindful of your traffic, and having an idea of who your visitors are and what they want helps to increase your chances of conversion.

Creating personas to illustrate your visitors groups can help here. This video on YouTube helps to explain the concept if it’s unclear.

Tell a story
Once you’ve got the right people coming to your website, you need to captivate them. It is an uncomfortable truth that in order to get somebody to support you, you will need to offer something in return. In the third sector, this usually comes in the form of emotional currency.

Take time to explain to your visitor why they should support you. Show them how their donation – whether it is their money or time – will help not just others but also themselves. Try to tell a story interwoven with facts and figures to support your claims, and then ask for them to take action at the right moment.

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Prostate Cancer UK go to great lengths to provide engaging and informative content in their 10 Years to Tame Prostate Cancer campaign.
In this example we see persona use clearly – we’re introduced to Andy, a dad with two sons, Errol, a black man (whose ethnicity is linked to a greater chance of getting prostate cancer) and William, a 13 year old boy who lost his father to prostate cancer.
By utilising storytelling and keeping your intended reader in mind, you help to conjure emotion in your visitors which will increase their likelihood of taking action.

Make it easy

Accepting online donations from website visitors is surprisingly easy to get wrong, and with a myriad of tools and platforms it can be difficult to make the most optimal decision for your charity. Stripe or PayPal? JustGiving or a fully integrated system? How to handle Gift Aid? What about GDPR? The difficulty here – and the key to success – is making it easy! Regardless of which integration style you choose, try and keep the user experience clear and consistent, and keep the following in mind:
● Make donation buttons stand out – experiment with the colour, size, shape and position
of buttons and links so they are highly visible
● Ensure donation forms contain only the fields needed – don’t ask for unnecessary
information and make things complicated
● Remind the visitor how their data will be used in accordance with GDPR and privacy
laws to build trust and confidence in your organisation.

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GoodUI’s example of using contrast to bring attention to specific elements

Follow it up
When you receive a donation from a first-time donor make sure you have a system in place to follow up. This could be through an automated set of rules in a CRM like SalesForce, or a manual process where you contact the donor personally.
Writing for Charity Digital News, Janet Sneddon says “We know that nine per cent of all donors make 66 percent of all donations. Without data, however, you can’t know who those nine percent are. But when you use the data you hold to identify your most valuable supporters, you can target communications more effectively.”
When you interact with a new supporter with whom you are hoping to engage long-term, you can use CRM data to gain important insights over time either of individual donors or segmented groups (i.e. by location, age or some other relevant metric). Janet continues “Your data can tell you who opens what. It can tell you when. It can tell you for how long. Carefully analysed data will show you the recipients who never read a word, but will click on a video link, and it will show you the people who will take the time to digest a story.”
The key takeaway here is to not let a potential long term supporter slip through with a one-off donation, and to ensure processes are in place to nurture that relationship through data-driven touch-points. This is crucial to developing sustainability within your charity’s fundraising efforts.

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