In 2008, non-profits and charities collected about 10% of their donations online, according to a survey by Target Analytics, but usability expert Jakob Nielsen
says the amount of money collected online could be much higher — with
improved website design and content that answers the donors’ real
To discover how non-profit websites could encourage more donations,
Nielsen looked at user behavior on 23 websites of large and small
non-profit groups representing a wide range of causes from animal
welfare to museums, to youth programs, to international development.
Topping the list of “donation killers,” Nielsen reports, were
content issues (53%) and usability issues (47%), the latter including
a confusing workflow and cluttered pages. (On 17% of the sites, users
couldn’t find where to make a donation!) Further, there’s commonly a
gap between the information provided by many non-profit websites and
what the prospective donors actually wanted in the way of information
to help them make the decision to donate: “What are you trying to
achieve, and how will you spend my money?”
“Once people had decided to make a donation — and found the donation
button on sites that made doing so difficult — it was fairly easy for
them to proceed through the workflow and donate” — but getting website
users to that important click is the real challenge.
See the Alertbox online newsletter for 30 March 2009, Donation Usability: Increasing Online Giving to Non-profits and Charities, for Nielsen’s detailed recommendations for how non-profit websites can be improved to get more online donations.