When in doubt — test it. Yes, there are some very well established best practices for online fundraising, but testing always helps you improve your own performance.This is especially true when you are trying something new or outside the norm. Over the years I've gotten countless questions about how should nonprofits setup their online fundraising programs. Many of the same questions came up during NetWits Summer Camp last week and in the numerous emails I received following the sessions.
Lots and Lots of Questions
How many different ask amounts should we have on our donation form? Is having a minimum gift amount a good idea? Should we let donors enter any gift amount? Should we use reCAPTCHA? Is it a good idea to put single gifts, recurring gifts, and pledges all on a single donation form? Should we put different kinds of giving options on different pages? Should we ask donors to opt-in to our enewsletter on the donation form? What are the best segments to use for an email campaign? Does a one step or multi-step form work better? Should we only put unrestricted gift designations on the web? How many different landing pages should we use during a campaign? What should we put in an email acknowledgment for our online gifts? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? — "The world may never know."
A Little Secret about Best Practices
Here's a little secret about the inner workings of the nonprofit consulting world: All those best practice recommendations all come from first-hand experience with clients. And at some point along the way each one of those "best practices" was a "best guess" that has been validated with a certain number of clients over time — through testing. We didn't instantly know it would work until we tried it out. And when you've been doing this kind of work for many many years the amount of things-tested-that-work can be pretty sizable.The other secret is that all the other things we tell nonprofits not to do comes from things that were tested and didn't work — or things nonprofits were already trying that weren't getting results.
Anyone interested in a blog post about running a test session to make your own best practices? Just let me know…