How charities can harness excellent customer experience to drive online donations

Last year only 20% of charitable donations came from online, which contrasts sharply with the wider trend of increasing online activity across all industries (Econsultancy, 2015).

There is a huge opportunity to increase online donations by focusing on delivering “excellent” online experiences that are convenient for time-poor supporters and add value to their lives (Forrester, February 2016).

Leaders are already picking up on this, with organisations like the US National Parks harnessing virtual reality to demonstrate the benefits of contributions to their conservation efforts (Charity Comms, February 2016).

Getting commitment from donors means ensuring your experience seamlessly fits into their connected life and offers reassurance and transparency on the impact of their donations (Havas Media Group, April 2015).

Succeeding in increasing online donations means developing greater relevance to supporters online and harnessing granular data analysis to do it. You need to understand your supporters and develop a sufficient depth of knowledge about them to treat with them as individuals.

Advanced segmentation will be invaluable to charities, enabling them to tell people apart, knowing whether someone is a first time visitor, has donated once, donates occasionally or is a regular donator. This can then enable individually tailored experiences, which understand donor motivations and optimize the experience to increase donations to causes.

Motivations are different for individuals, but relevant personalization based on location and preference will help alter the experience to match motivations and thus encourage greater donations. If you know where a user is, you can understand what content is relevant to them locally and which fundraising events they are likely to respond to. Learning preferences will let you understand motivations at a deeper level. If a customer wants to understand where their donation will go, and what benefit it will do, you can surface relevant content showing the benefit of their contributions (Positive Studio, January 2016).

Indeed, reassurance can be among the greatest factors in encouraging donations. Social proof can bridge the interaction gap between offline and online by harnessing peer behavior. Using real-time data, social proof can show how many people have donated to a cause, signed up for a fundraising activity or are attending an event. As social creatures, humans are influenced by the behavior of their peers, and showcasing peer behavior in this way can reassure contributors they are making the right decision.

The opportunity for charities to expand and increase online donations is clear. The deciding factor on success will be who can deliver an excellent digital customer experience first, and continue to refine it and advance it moving forward. Investing in a sophisticated digital experience now, driven by advanced personalization, will deliver increasing donations in the future, adding value to donors lives and convincing them their investment in you as a charity is a worthwhile commitment.