7 Online Giving Mistakes To Avoid

Online giving has become a must-have for churches and ministries over traditional donation methods because of the convenience it provides to their members and donors. When done well, an online giving program is successful in creating a more consistent income source.  The accessibility of recurring donations or processing a gift with a few simple clicks means you will capture more top-line revenue through gifts both large and small.  Most everyone is familiar with making a payment or purchase online these days, and the internet is an excellent and relatively inexpensive way to communicate with your donors.  It is an essential tool in converting likes and visits into dollars that support your mission.

Master Successful Online Giving by Avoiding these Mistakes:

Mistake No. 1:  Hiding your donation button

If your donors are more than a few clicks away from your donation button, they may not take the time to find it. Some motivated donors may enjoy the “hide and seek” game, but most web viewers have an attention span of 5-9 seconds, roughly the same time frame as a goldfish. Put your donation page button or link in a place that is visible and intuitive on every page, such as your header navigation, and use eye catching colors and shapes.

Mistake No. 2: Not promoting your online giving program

Hide it under a bushel? No! Let your online giving program shine to draw users and increase engagement. This isn’t a one-shot deal – reminders and promotions should be included in all of your communications.  Let them know you appreciate their busy schedules and time, remind them of the features and benefits that make their lives easier.

Check out this articles for promotion ideas: “Putting the Spotlight on Online Giving ”

Mistake No. 3: Not branding your giving page

Your donation page is not the place to abandon all the hard work you’ve put into creating your nonprofit’s image and branding.  Transitioning from your message that just motivated them to give to a completely foreign page can be jarring for a donor.  Keep their experience seamless and inspired by utilizing your logos and colors.  This avoids any distractions that may prevent them from completing their donation.  Customize the available text fields, like donation instructions to reemphasize your mission message it reinforces how important their gift is to your organization.

Mistake No. 4: Offering too many options

If you donor lands on your donation page and is instantly offered a screen full of decisions.  Or they have to wade through options that may, or may not, have anything to do with their reason for giving they can become overwhelmed.  Keep the page simple and only ask for the information you need. If you have a lot of giving categories, or program specific support, consider using multiple giving pages that appeal to your donors’ reason for giving.   For example, from your Youth page show only youth-focused categories or offer only the relevant missionaries on your African Missions page.

Mistake No 5:  Not offering enough options

Online giving is first and foremost about convenience. Nothing is more inconvenient for your donor than not seeing their preferred payment method listed as a giving option. Accept all major debit/credit cards as well as eChecks (also known as ACH or EFT).   If the donor has to stop and figure an alternate payment method, the likelihood they will not process their donation increases drastically.  Once you’ve lost their attention or they have disengaged from the inspiration of your mission (remember the goldfish!) you may not get it back.

Mistake No 6: Not encouraging recurring donations

Recurring donations are a no-brainer. They’re effective because you only have to engage the donor once and then collect donations each month after.  For churches, this is especially valuable during the summer months when attendance typically drops.  The ease of pledges or installments can also be appealing to donors who want to support your goals but may not be able to stretch to a large gift. Check your page to make sure recurring donations are available and make sure to regularly promote the convenience of them to your donors.

Mistake No 7: Not promoting your online giving program

Do you know the average person does not retain 30% of what they hear?  Announcing online giving as an option one time or posting it in your bulletin is not enough. Keep your online giving program on the forefront of your donors’ minds through announcements from the pulpit, notices in service programs, newsletters, and emails. Have your leadership signup for online giving and share about their experience. In one example we’ve heard, the pastor took his phone out and signed up during the service!

Go to your giving page right now and walk through the process from a new donors’ perspective. Make notes if you notice any of the mistakes above or there is confusion at any point during the process.

Next step: fix it!