Charities are creating significant barriers to potential donors making online contributions, according to the first Online Fundraising Scorecard, a study by Dunham+Company and Next After.
The study, the most comprehensive focusing on the online donor experience, gives most nonprofits a failing or mediocre grade when scored against tested and proven online best practices.
The study comes at a time when many charities are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-09. Giving USA’s 2013 report estimated that giving increased only by 1.5 percent when adjusted for inflation in 2012, the most recent year when data is available.
Of the 151 organizations that were part of the study, 127 scored 75 percent or below.
“Research has shown that online giving represents only about 6 percent of total charitable gifts, but this study uncovers the fact that charities put up unnecessary roadblocks to donors giving online,” said Rick Dunham, President and CEO of Dunham+Company and also a member of the boards of The Giving Institute and Giving USA.
“This new data, combined with research already showing that more than two-thirds of online transactions are being abandoned, makes us believe there are millions – if not billions – of dollars being left on the table. Virtually every charity could improve the online giving experience for its donors.”
The study was conducted over the course of nine months in 2013. The researchers reviewed the websites of 151 organizations, including 100 in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 400 of the largest nonprofits, and signed up to receive emails as well as giving an initial $20 gift.
The study examined 46 key indicators in four critical parts of online fundraising: email registration, email communication, the donation experience and the gift acknowledgement process.
The researchers discovered:
- 37 percent of organizations did not send a single email within 30 days after subscribers signed up to receive them;
- 79 percent did not personalize emails with a person’s first or last name;
- 36 percent sent emails with multiple, conflicting calls to action;
- 65 percent required three or more pages to give a gift online;
- 84 percent did not have a online donation experience that was optimized for mobile devices; and
- 63 percent did not provide a next step for donors to take once they thanked them for their donations.
Interestingly, animal welfare organizations (81 percent), political candidates (78) and environmental and wildlife organizations (77) received the highest average scores. Jewish organizations (68 percent) and Christian ministries (67) received some of the lowest.
For more information, or to download the scorecard and check your own organization, visit www.dunhamandcompany.com.