Charity websites missed out on £1.5bn in donations last year

Cost of high website bounce rates revealed by new research

Austin Clark | 13th Dec 17

Charities missed out on an estimated £1.5 billion-worth of donations last year due to high bounce rates on mobile devices, according to analysis from Reason Digital.

The digital social enterprise looked at over eight billion visits to charity websites between September 2016 and August 2017 and found that, despite 68% of all visits coming from mobile users, 79% of these navigated away from the websites after viewing only one page. This was in sharp contrast to an average of 58% of desktop users who did the same, implying frequent but shallow engagement from mobile users.

Taking into consideration the overall conversion rate of 1.2% for charity websites, plus the average online donation of £96.60, Reason Digital calculated that the 79% bounce rate on mobile devices cost the sector £1.5 billion.

This behaviour from mobile users was also consistent in the number of website pages viewed. The company’s analysis found that the average number of pages visited on mobile was 1.53, compared to 1.95 for tablet users and 2.89 for desktop users. This suggests that many charity websites are not built with mobile users in mind and users are therefore less likely to donate or engage with the organisation as a result.

Matt Haworth, co-founder of Reason Digital, said: “Although there are a few factors to take into consideration here, including the habit of mobile users to stay on websites for shorter periods of time, these don’t account for the dramatic contrast in what is known as the bounce rate between devices. By converting the number of website visitors lost on mobile devices into billions of pounds, the implications that bounce rates have on charities are made explicitly clear.

“What our findings suggest is that charity websites are not retaining user interest, which ultimately translates into missing out on large amounts of donations. This can happen for a number of reasons, whether that’s an unresponsive or poorly optimised website, or a misleading link to the website.

“Websites are crucial platforms for charities, and in an increasingly connected world, improving the mobile experience for users who want to donate using their mobiles is essential. The number of users who visit these websites using their mobiles is only going to increase, and so too will the amount of donations lost to poor bounce rates if nothing improves.

“These users represent a vast and potentially untapped audience for many charities. It’s therefore vital for charities to not just attract new users, but keep them on the website and encourage them to find out more through a properly optimised design and a carefully considered user journey.”