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Better Non-Profit Websites to Increase Online Donations: Usability Report

Lori Halley 30 March 2009 2 comments

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 questions.

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.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 30 March 2009 at 5:34 PM


  • Jason King said:

    Monday, 30 March 2009 at 8:51 PM

    This research study's main findings may seem blindingly obvious - but not necessarily to the nonprofits that are making these mistakes. And I'm sure some of my own websites would benefit from checking against the suggestions in the report, bound to be a few 'obvious' things I missed!

    The report does looks potentially useful but I'm not about to shell out $98 to buy it from Mr Jakob - a nonprofit discount would have been nice!

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 01 April 2009 at 10:39 AM

    It's easy to be too close to something (like a nonprofit website) to see it clearly, isn't it?  I'm absolutely with you on the price tag, Jason: $98 is a steep price for a report, and I sincerely doubt that any of the tiny impoverished non-profits I'm involved with could find it in the budget! We'll leave the formal report for the "big guys" to invest in, I think, and take advantage of the (free) Alterbox summary as a checklist for website improvements.

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