How to increase charity donations through your website

Let’s imagine that your charity website has been up and running for a while and it’s performing well, but you’re starting to get the feeling that it could do better in terms of bringing in donations. You start to look online for ways to improve your website, but a lot of the suggestions seem to point at some serious re-working (if not a total website rebuild) which look like they will be expensive! 

Here at Boxharry we’ve been looking at this problem for a number of our charity clients and have started to focus on a concept that is simple to implement, isn’t technical in nature and could be rolled out relatively cheaply (depending on what website editing skills you may have to hand). 

 

Change the way you look at the website content

At its heart, the idea is to concatenate what are seen as ‘user journeys’ through a website – where a visitor clicks on a series of signposts to arrive at a measurable goal. This small change will see the creation of single page ‘story’ experiences which are structured in a way that gives a complete overview of the charity's process:

Goal > Funding > Work > Results

These single pages can then be really effectively targeted via social media and SEO to increase traffic and potential donors. 

“OK...” you’re probably saying right now, “... you've just described an appeal page and our CMS has the ability to create and publish appeals already, so what’s new?” Well, what we are talking about is changing the way you think about ‘business as usual’ donations, which do not normally form part of a campaign. To illustrate this, here’s a common user journey on charity websites: 

  1. Arrive on home page
  2. Click ‘Our services’
  3. Click ‘Service #1’
  4. Click ‘How we work’
  5. Click ‘Who we help’
  6. Click ‘Where your money goes’ (At this stage they’ve been convinced to donate)
  7. Click the orange donate button in the header 

 

It’s obvious that this journey is relatively complex and will be difficult to measure. Even if it can be effectively measured it wouldn’t be too obvious where to refine it if drop-outs start to occur; and if people don’t take that final click how are you going to change the website to make that happen?

And if the donate button is in the header... who really knows what has triggered someone to click on it? It’s sitting there passively and without context hoping to be used, but whether or not people do so could be dependent on a whole range of factors. And if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.

 

The story page

Here’s where the new story page comes in to play. These new content page types will aim to bring a whole range of information that is normally scattered throughout the site into a single space, giving visitors a much richer and deeper understanding of why it is vitally important to donate. 

A typical page can contain content structured in a way that tells a story from top to bottom, drawing the reader into your world. Imagine breaking the page down into discrete sections focussed on a single service type, creating a strong narrative: 

  • What we do
  • How we do it
  • Who we do it for
  • Our results
  • Donate now

 

You can see the donation call-to-action at the bottom, which could be just the right position to strike up that crucial engagement with the reader.

 

Keeping it simple

A happy by-product of the new story page format is the simplification of a typical user journey. The long and random journey we laid out above has been greatly simplified and reduced to: 

  1. Arrive on home page 
  2. Click ‘Story #1’ 
  3. Donate

 

The smaller journey will give much greater ability to generate meaningful usage insights and, by using heatmap behaviour monitoring (with systems such as Hotjar – others are available!), pages can be refined into super effective donation assets.

 

Getting up and running

The good news is that this is super easy to implement and can be carried out on existing websites or built into the structure of one that’s been newly conceived and is still in development. Here are a few pointers to making it a real thing:  

No need to change website structure – these story pages can live alongside your current information architecture, although you may not need to maintain all those old pages if the new ones work well! 

No technical knowledge needed – fundamentally these pages are all about content, telling a story which will contextualise for people how important their donations are. You may need to get your web company to design a new page template which will include an in-line donation link, but that only needs to be done once. 

Paint by numbers – if you want to make it really easy on yourself get your web company to update the CMS to allow you to edit discrete portions of each story page. For example, they can create text boxes where you can ‘Add your service description here:’ and ‘Describe the results of your work here:’. 

Targeted marketing – once the pages are up and running you should be able to concentrate your marketing on one or more specific pages and really optimise your time and budget – a bit like you may already do with campaigns. 

 

I hope this has been useful! The whole thing has really been about changing the way you view the power of each individual web page rather than giving you a point-by-point how-to list. But I'd be really happy to answer any questions or discuss any feedback you may have on this  it’s always good to refine ideas with others, especially those on the ‘inside’ of the charity organisations. 

Happy fundraising!

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