I thought that I would share a personal experience from the other day that got the wheels churning in my head. Whenever I need to restock on pet supplies, then I make a trip to PetSmart. They have a store not far from the Blackbaud office in Charleston.
At the checkout there is a screen that asks if you would like to make a donation to PetSmart Charities. The screen would ask a simple yes or no question if you wanted to make a $1 donation. It was a simple ask and I never left the store without pressing the "Yes" button.
But during my visit the other day, I noticed that they had updated the screen to ask for a $1, $2, $5, or $10 donation. I immediately pulled out my iPhone to take a quick photo. And then on the drive home I starting thinking about a lot of questions. Why did they make the change? Are people giving more? Less? How much more? How much less? Is there a linkage to store purchases and donations? Do they test different ask amounts in different stores? How did they choose the giving increments? Was it scientific? Was it just some guessing and testing? Am I the only one who gets excited about seeing something like this?
What is clear is that if you only ask for $1, then the most you are going to receive is $1. And if you only ask for $10, then you probably lose a lot of potential donations at a lower amount.
Expand this idea to your online giving ask amounts and how strategic you're being with them. How did you determine the ask amounts? Is it open ended or close ended? Do you always ask the same amounts no matter who is visiting the donation form? Do some donation form and ask amount combinations perform better or worse than others? How do you know? How much testing and experimentation are you doing?
First, if you're still using a single donation form with all the same ask amounts, no matter who visits them or where they visit them from, then you're missing a huge opportunity. Your online donation forms should be smart. They should vary depending on audience, entry point, and adjust over time as you learn more about donor behaviors.
Second, if you're only focused on anonymous visitors to the website, then you're missing an opportunity to specifically target known donors. This includes active email and landing page campaigns for known donor segments. Lapsed donors, multi-year donors, donors that increased giving, donors that decreased giving, donors to specific funds or programs, donors that subscribe to enewsletters, donors that have participated in an event. The list goes on and on. Research shows time and time again that targeted, personalized, and focused giving experiences yield better results. That's the smart way to go about online fundraising.