What I Wish I Knew Then, Part Two

Earlier this year I set out to share all the things I wish I knew when I was on the fundraising staff at a non-profit starting with my first post Five Ways To be a Better Fundraising Professional. My next topic is what I consider to be the biggest missed opportunity for nonprofits that host peer to peer fundraising events, peer to peer fundraising donors. We put a lot of effort into recruiting participants, getting them to fundraise and then hosting the best event ever, paying little attention if any to donors. It was always something I wanted to explore further but never had the capacity to do so. In my new role I have been able to see how the industry as a whole cultivates peer to peer fundraising donors and while I am partially relieved I wasn’t alone in my lack of capacity, I am disappointed with how little the industry has progressed in this area.

It is my observation that the donor is an afterthought for most peer to peer fundraising campaigns so I focused on the Top 30 Run Walk Ride Fundraising Events in 2012  to conduct an experiment targeting the donor’s online experience. My hypothesis is that peer to peer fundraising campaigns do not provide the optimal donor experience on their event websites. To test this hypothesis I made an online donation for a participant in each Top 30 Run Walk Ride event and have provided you with my test, results and conclusion. While it sounds scientific, it is really subjective and meant to start the conversation that we need to make our peer to peer fundraising donors a larger priority in our fundraising strategies.

 My Test:

  1. Is there a donate button on the event’s home page so if I don’t have a link to the participant’s website I can easily make a donation if I go to the home page?
  2. Can I search for the participant I want to support on the home page?
  3. Is there a link to the participant’s donation form in the search results?
  4. What are my options to help me determine my donation amount (a selection of suggested donation amounts or a blank field)?
  5. Has the organization inspired me by tying suggested donation amounts to their mission?
  6. Does the organization provide payment options other than credit cards?
  7. Can I give a recurring gift?
  8. How many pages or steps does the donation form have?
  9. Does the organization inform me about matching gifts?
  10. Am I able to share that I donated with my social networks?

My Results:

  1. 60% have a donate button on the home page.
  2. 20% enable donors to search for a participant on the home page
  3. 43% provide a direct link to donate in the search results
  4. 83% provide suggested donations amounts
  5. 44% tie the suggested donation amount to their mission
  6. 30% donation forms had the option to use PayPal and 23% ACH
  7. 27% offer the opportunity to give a recurring gift
  8. 37% of donation forms were one screen, 53% two screens and 10% three screens
  9. 77% provided matching gift information, a matching gift search option or asked me if my gift could be matched
  10. 60% enabled me to share my gift with my social networks

My Conclusion:

It is my opinion that peer to peer fundraising campaigns do not provide the optimal donor experience on their event websites and overall the Top 30 Run Walk Ride events have a lot of opportunity to improve. I should write a blog series on why each element of my test is important to the peer to peer donors’ online experience but I recommend that you don’t wait for my future posts and audit your own event website from a donor’s perspective and start the process of optimzing your website to make the donor’s user experience a priority. You never know maybe they will give more or give again in the future.

 A Few Interesting Findings:

  1. Only one organization enabled me to donate in three steps. Most donations took me four to six steps.
  2. The term donate was used 93% of the time. The remaining references to donating online included give and sponsor.
  3. 87% of all donation forms allow a $5 donation. Four organizations have higher donation minimums; $15, $20 and two have $25 minimums.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Palo is a senior consultant on Blackbaud’s strategic services team with an emphasis on peer-to-peer fundraising. She brings more than 10 years experience in the event fundraising space enjoys helping nonprofits implement solutions to increase revenue through innovative online fundraising strategies. Prior to joining Blackbaud in April 2012, Nancy worked at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in California and New York where see oversaw the Society’s peer to peer fundraising campaigns, raising more than $30 million during her eight years with the organization. She studied communications and business at the University of San Diego and works remotely from her home office in her 400 square foot apartment in New York City. Connect with Nancy on Twitter at @fundraising101.

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