The importance of user journeys for charity digital fundraising

We examine the impact that easier and more intuitive user journeys can have on charity digital fundraising campaigns and intitiatives.

Paul Rubens | 3rd Jan 20
user journeys and digital fundraising

Donations driven by charities’ websites have been exploding over the last few years, with online giving increasing by 17% in 2018 compared to 2017, according to the Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report. But the truth is that online giving could have grown even more. That’s because many potential supporters visit charity websites and leave without making a donation – despite digital fundraising being one of the key purposes of those websites. To understand why charities need to look at the user experience (UX) that they offer through their websites. To increase donations they need to optimise the user journeys as potential supporters navigate the site from the time they arrive on the landing page to the point when they leave – either before or after they make a donation.


Good website design

It may sound obvious, but don’t forget that looks are important. That means that your landing pages should be visually attractive and inviting, and the site as a whole should be easy to navigate.  On top of that, the digital design should take potential supporters on a journey which ends with a clear call to action and a straightforward donation opportunity.

Paying attention to this can be surprisingly effective. For example, changes introduced by Cancer Research UK after testing its landing page and assessing how easy users found it to navigate resulted in a 294% increase in the number of clickthroughs it received.

Tests also revealed that competing calls to action – like asking supporters to donate and to buy wristbands – were harming its digital fundraising efforts, and the charity went through a “period of simplification” to resolve this.

In more specific terms, tests carried out by suggest that successful sites offer links that have hover state, breadcrumb navigation, and a mobile-friendly or dedicated mobile site. Less successful ones lack small things like consistency of font sizes, alt text on images, and clear calls to action, and offer poor experiences for the large and growing proportion of potential supporters who visit the site from their smartphones.


> Read More: 4 of the best charities leading the push for digital transformation


Understanding your site visitors

Persuasion Architecture is a sales theory that suggests that if you want to persuade visitors to make a donation effectively, you need to understand those people, what motivates them, and what will persuade them.

That means talking to potential and actual donors to find out what makes them tick.


Offer social proof

On a journey to find a restaurant and get dinner, people are less likely to choose an empty dining establishment than a busy one. People use the fact that a restaurant is popular as social proof that it is worth visiting.

During a digital user journey, supporters can’t see if your charity is popular or not, but you can route your user journey past donor stories on your website which provide social proof that making a donation is a popular choice and by implication a choice which is worthwhile.


>Read More: Digital service design focus of ‘modern day fable’ for charities


Make it easy to donate, and to donate big

If you already have a well-designed site with a clear call to action, you achieve nothing in terms of fundraising if visitors leave without making a donation.

At this critical juncture in the user journey you can make it easier to get a donation by changing the user conversation from “will you donate?” to “how much will you donate?”

This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as offering three suggested donation options and perhaps providing the “most popular” donation value which could actually encourage a higher donation.

Finally, it is important to make the payment experience as painless as possible, by understanding the payment methods that potential supporters want to use, and ensuring that you offer them either directly or through a payment gateway.


Make the user experience as hassle-free as possible

Getting potential supporters to register on your site so that you can communicate with them in the future or to sign up to Gift Aid can be immensely valuable to you, but to those supporters, it is likely to be an inconvenience. A carefully planned UX design and user journey will allow them to do both of these things without necessarily even knowing it.

For example, retailer ASOS managed to reduce the incidence of checkout abandonment by 50% by appearing to drop the requirement for customers to register. In fact, their customers still registered for an account, but using clever copywriting and UX design, it gathered all the required information without any mention of the word “registering.” This made the whole purchasing experience more pleasant and less tiresome for its customers.


>Read More: Cancer charity boosts donations through online payments overhaul