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Are you looking for a new donation platform? Are you curious if there is something better than what you are using today?
We have built many nonprofit websites that include online fundraising as a key feature. We have gotten to know a lot of different platforms and their pros and cons.
This article highlights a collection of modern features a donation platforms should offer.
We also share some data insights from two recent clients and their donations over a few month period. Both clients, we supported with technology that includes the features below.
1. Website Integration
Your donation checkout should live on your website. Links off to third-party hosted pages are not the ideal.
A donation checkout on your website delivers a more streamlined and trust building experience. Your donor will stay on your website and not have to think about who they are transacting with. This approach generally reduces clicks as well. Less clicks is always a good thing.
2. Brand Forward
Your donation check out should make your brand shine. You should have opportunities to add your messaging and apply your brand look and feel. Also, consider the experience of completing the forms and how this reflects on your brand. Is the donation experience easy to complete? Is it polished?
Donation forms or widgets added to your website should be compliant with WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
Every supporter should be able to make a donation whether using a monitor or a screenreader.
4. Mobile Friendly
Your donation checkout must be responsive and deliver a great mobile experience. The percentage of people using mobile devices is high. You can't afford not to offer a great mobile checkout experience.
Our client partners had an average of 47.5% of donations made via mobile devices.
5. Payment Flexibility
As payment options grow it is important to offer choice to donors. Traditional credit card payments still represent the majority of payments made. Alternative options including Paypal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Plaid, and ACH merit consideration.
It's important to meet donors where they are and let them pay in the way that is most convenient.
Our client partners offered a variety of payment options in their checkouts. We found 76% of donors entered their credit card information, 15% Apple Pay, 5% PayPal, 1% ACH, 1% Plaid, and 1% Google Pay. Apple Pay and PayPal stand out as notable.
6. Fee Coverage
Many donation platforms offer the ability to cover transaction fees. These fees include credit card processing and sometimes the donation platform's transaction cost. This ensures that you receive the full intended donation amount. Transaction fees do add up and can be notable. When donors cover these fees it means a lot more donation dollars for your organization.
We've seen an average of 85% of donors covering fees for our client partners. In these cases, the option to cover fees was set as a default option.
We understand concerns around asking donors to cover these fees. An analysis done by Fundraise Up looks at over 450,000 donors over 8 months. Their findings support use of the feature. They also share a case if the majority of donations are less than $80 where you might default to opting in to the feature rather than opting out.
7. Data Portability
A modern donation platform should not lock you into it. If you decide to move on to try another platform, can your data come with you? A critical consideration is your recurring donors.
We recommend working with a platform that uses Stripe.com or a similar payment processor. The idea is to use your own payment processor that is separate but integrated with the donation platform.
If you use your own Stripe account your transaction data are still in an account you control. Your transaction data is separated from the donation platform. You may even be able to migrate all your historical and/or recurring donors to the new platform if it uses Stripe.
Too many donation platforms lock you in to their donation processor and platform, making it hard to move away from them. This is particularly true with recurring donors. Moving recurring donors from one platform to another is a notable and often a costly challenge. If your recurring donors are in your Stripe account it will likely have less if not no disruption in operations to change platform.
Donation platforms are one part of a stack of technologies used by most organizations. You need your donor data to be in your CRM (Salesforce) and your email marketing (Mailchimp).
Make sure the donation platform offers integration opportunities.
They should offer direct integrations, use Zapier.com, and/or offer an API (application programming interface). Direct and Zapier integration offer no-code options. You won't need a web developer to connect your donation platform to other services and automate data sharing.
Platforms should support Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels. This allows for connecting website and marketing analytics to donation conversions. Want to know if a Facebook or Google Grant ad resulted in a donation? Your platform talking to Google and Facebook will make that possible.
What platform do we recommend?
There are a lot of donation platforms out there. Many are great. One platform that checks all the feature "boxes" listed above and more is Fundraise UP.
In getting to know Fundraise Up, we liked the values of the product and the attention to detail represented in the features they offer. They have a platform that allow us to affordably create a beautiful donation experience on our clients' websites. It has a wealth of features that power smart donation conversions. They don't lock you in and offer excellent integration opportunities.
We invested in becoming a Fundraise Up partner. Since then, we have successfully supported multiple small and mighty organizations using this tool. If you have any interest in learning more about Fundraise Up or Minds On Design Lab and our services, reach out and let's connect.
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Minds On Design Lab is a strategic design studio with digital expertise. We’re passionate about elevating small and mighty teams in the social sector. We connect people to mission through beautifully designed branding, web, and print.