Is Your Donation Page Costing You Money?

Today’s guest blog post is written by Aaron Schwartzbord, Marketing Manager, Patron Technology. 

A few months ago I received a call from my alma mater, asking me to make a donation to its annual fund. I decided to make the donation but asked if I could pay at a later time. They told me that this was no problem and within a few days, I received a reminder in the mail.

I sat down a few months later to make the donation online through their website — I filled out all of the fields and even decided to give more than I originally pledged. I clicked “Confirm” and was surprised to get an error message telling me there was a problem and my transaction could not be completed. Thinking I had missed a field or mistyped my credit card number, I filled in my information once more, but again I received the same error message:

Worried that I had caused the error somehow, I emailed the alumni office. They responded that they were having problems with their credit card processor at the moment and would let me know when the issue was resolved and I could finish my transaction.

I had committed to making this donation and I bet they would have continued to remind me to complete it had I just given up that day. However, imagine now that you have a patron who wants to make an unsolicited donation and they go to your website and get this type of error message. Do you think they’re going to tell you or just move on?

While we don’t all have the time to test our online forms daily (or even weekly), it’s vital that we do routine checks as we are relying more and more on these tools and methods for patron activities, especially giving. When was the last time you checked your online donation form?

Beyond just making sure that the forms are working, testing periodically can also help you make sure that the content and flow of the forms still make sense and are communicating accurate information. It could be as easy as setting a monthly reminder to spend 15 minutes to test and check that your online systems are working properly.

Now, if there is a problem that comes up with these systems (for example, you are alerted that your credit card processor is down), have you thought through a plan or policy for how to communicate this? Whether it’s simply a message on your website or (if necessary) an email to your patrons that the form is temporarily unavailable, it’s important that you don’t let people get frustrated or confused by discovering the error on their own. If it’s not working and a patron gets frustrated, most of the time they’ll just leave and give up. And consequentially, you may never know they had wanted to make a donation.

Taking an extra couple minutes to go through the donation or ticket path can ensure that when patrons use your tools, they have a pleasant and successful experience, which means more money for your organization.

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