How not to kill online donations

by guest blogger George Crankovic

The salesman in the car showroom has his prospect convinced and ready to buy, but instead of prompting the customer to sign on the dotted line, the salesman keeps talking, keeps selling, keeps pushing. The customer gets annoyed. Finally he gets fed up and drives off in his dented old Chevy, shaking his head.

It’s called selling beyond the close, a common mistake that scotches the deal. Chalk it up to nerves, adrenaline, or just plain chattiness. Even experienced salespeople sometimes can’t tell when to stop selling and start closing.

You see the same thing in online donation pages. Let’s say you receive an email about childhood hunger that moves you. You click the Donate button. You’re ready to give.

But when you get to the donation page, you see a headline and copy about childhood hunger, how bad the problem is, how dedicated the charity is to the solution, and on and on. You’re sitting there ready to give, but they’re still pushing, still persuading.

Why do that? It could be the reason for a high donation-page abandonment rate.

Make your case in the appeal, and then on the donation page, shift to “closing” mode. Just like the response device in a mail appeal, the donation page should trumpet a call to action like, “YES, I want to give now to end childhood hunger!” This is right for two reasons. First, it’s what the donor wants to do(it’s why she I clicked the Donate button) and second, it’s what the nonprofit wants her to do too.

But of course, maybe the donor didn’t receive an email laying out the need and reason to give. Maybe she went to the website and clicked on a campaign button providing only a small rectangle’s worth of information. Even still, if she clicks the Donate button, she’s ready to give. The call to action still applies. You could reinforce the benefit to the donor in some additional copy, but it should be in the first person. Something like, “I realize that childhood hunger hurts kids like Sally, and I want to be part of the solutions to this terrible problem.” Brief, to the point, focused on giving.

A call to action on the donation page makes sense. Selling beyond the close doesn’t.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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