The Non Profit Times reported on an attempts to make donations online. Amergent, in Peabody, Mass., decided to contact 30 Catholic organizations and test their responses to $25 online and offline donations sent out this past June. Amergent wanted to analyze the ease of donating, how organizations cultivated and renewed donors, and what were the differences between giving online and offline.
Ten out of the 30 online gifts could not be processed online.
Rick Christ, vice president of online fundraising at NPAdvisors.com, now a part of Amergent, explained that having any roadblocks to your online donations could severely affect whether a person will give at all. Donors expect online donations to be easy and they sometimes don’t have the patience to sift through 12 pages to find the donate link or navigate an error message.
Christ said that sometimes the error messages themselves were confusing, even for someone who works within the online sphere. One error message proclaimed an “AVS mismatch,” with no way of correcting the error. “Imagine the impact on the 80-year-old woman getting that error message. It’s written by the programmer, not a fundraiser,” he said.
He explained that organizations couldn’t assume everyone can breeze through an online donation form. “We are in the forgiveness business – and need to practice a little here,” said Christ. Error messages should apologize for the error and plot out how the donor can fix the situation.
Christ said the average online donation should take less than three days to clear. The test of the 20 remaining organizations that could process online donations found that the processing ranged from one day to seven days, with the average as less than three days.
After making 50 donations, 30 by mail and 20 online, to the 30 organizations, only 17 organizations responded with accurate information in less than 24 hours. Three organizations reported inaccurately that Chris Doyle gave one gift instead of two. But the fictional Chris Doyle is still waiting to hear back from 10 organizations.
From the answers Amergent received, eight asked for a full postal address to track gifts and one organization followed up with a typed, mailed letter that arrived 10 days later