Preparing for giving season. Is your organization ready for donors?

Updated on 3/16/2017

Giving Season. It’s a widely used term in the non-profit world. It’s the last few months of the year. The final push to get those last minute donors to send money your way. Do you have a game plan? I know that you’ve been racking your brain to try and figure out how to grab them but sometimes organizations miss one of the most valuable pieces – their website. While this may not be the most opportune time to do a major overhaul, there are 3 quick things you can do to your existing website that can help.

1. Get a donation button on your site – stat!

Yep, it’s that simple. I harp on this all the time. Probably one of the biggest offenders I see on non-profit websites. So many are missing this key item. EVERY organization should and must have a donation button on their website. Now there are many ways to accomplish this so it’s going to depend on many factors. Here’s some options to consider based on a variety of scenarios.

  1. Use a 3rd party donation vendor (low to mid cost level).
    network for good offers a wide variety of donation tools for non profit organizationsIf you are unsure of how to go about building something within your existing site, there are quite a few vendors out there than can offer help. For example, Network for Good is commonly used as a donation hub for many organizations. They handle all the card processing and tracking of donations. They also offer a variety of tools depending on how indepth you want to get with your donors. You can get as many bells and whistles as you’d like, however, like any other vendor, there is a fee. I’ve had clients who have had much success doing this. Plus it takes much of the donor management out of your hands.
  2. Use a 3rd party donation vendor (mid to high cost level).
    convio is a high end donor management toolThen of course there are the grand dads and monsters of the donation world. If you have a super huge budget, then these might be the options for you. One of the most popular and with the many bells and whistles you could hope for is Convio (now owned a run under the Blackbaud name). When I was working at Susan G. Komen, this was our vendor. We used it primarily on the Race for the Cure items. It is widely used by some of your bigger more well known organizations like the WWF, HRC and so on. Much has changed over the years in the world of donations and these are the guys making that happen. They have a bazillion products and variations of tools to donate. Skys the limit with these guys.
  3. use paypal for a low cost way to accept donations onlineUse PayPal donation buttons.
    Another less expensive option is the simple use of PayPal donation buttons. PayPal is a farely quick and easy set up. They have a button builder that you can use to create the donation button to place on your website. Like any other payment processor out there, there is always a fee but it’s minimal. You’ll of course need to verify your 501(c)(3) status but once that’s done, overall you are only charged 2.2% + $.30 per transaction and no monthly fees. Certainly an easy option for those that are budget conscious and not needing a full blown donor management piece.
  4. gravity forms allows you to creatively create donation forms on your wordpress websiteGravity forms plug-in for WordPress.
    Well of course, you can’t forget about all the awesome plug-ins for WordPress. If you have a WordPress site, you’ll find there are a variety of plug-ins out there that will help you process donations. I’m partial to Gravity Forms for a variety of reasons. Mainly because it’s an awesome all in one forms tool. So getting creative with a donation form is easy with the use of Gravity Forms. The other plus is that there are a variety of add-ons that let you choose from a huge selection of card processors out there PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe and so on. Again, there are some fees that apply but they are minimal as well.

There are a lot of options out there. Discuss with your development team and find out what you need and what will work for you.

2. Make your website mobile ready.

Now that you’ve got a way for donors to support your organization, you want to help them with their mobile experience. Now more than ever, people are doing everything by phone: shopping, getting a loan, socializing with friends and DONATING! We’ve all been to those websites that once we get there, it’s so small that we have to zoom here and zoom there just to try and figure out what’s on it. By the time a donor does all that, regardless of how much they love the organization, they will get frustrated and not make a donation.

A mobile site = donor conversions

an example of a mobile friendly website using wp touch pro for wordpressThis is a bit of a trickier step because it’s going to take some coding and work from a developer who is familiar with the platform you are using (WordPress, Joomla or Javelin). If it’s in your budget, it’s worth having a developer come in and help make your site mobile friendly. Mobile friendly is different than responsive and can be a huge budget saver.

If you are using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, there are some great mobile friendly plug-ins you can use fairly easily to get a mobile friendly site. For WordPress, I’ve found a lot of success with WP Touch Pro. It’s pretty flexible and has a lot of options (see the attached Cafe Klatsch image). From a set-up perspective, it has themes already created that you can customize with colors, logo and verbiage to fit your site style. It can help you make your WordPress site mobile friendly in no time. Whatever CMS you are using, if it wasn’t coded mobile responsive, browse their extensions or plug-ins to see what options they have for adding the mobile friendly piece to your site. It may take some time to fine tune but what is great is you don’t need to be technical to work with it. If you have a flat HTML site, there’s not a whole lot out of the box and may require a developer. But there are still options for you.

3. Get to cracking on social media

Most everything people do everything these days online. Not only online but through social media. There are so many great FREE tools out there, that there’s no need to panic. You can start posting today. Think about what can motivate people. TELL YOUR STORY! Move people to make that last minute donation for the year. Social media is a great way to share that information. Got a ton of photos? Instagram is an awesome way to draw people in with the visuals. Learn how to hashtag and you’ll draw even more folks in who may not have been aware of your organization and what it does.

It’s giving season. So give back to your donors by making it easy for them.