Fundraising Appeal – Web Setup Checklist

It’s coming up to End of Financial Year, and that means a lot of non-for-profits are running fundraising appeals (including many of us in Christian Media). Are your website and back-office systems ready for the next month of fundraising madness?

Here’s some key questions you should ask yourself before starting your EOFY appeal.

Donation Forms

Having a well-designed and properly tested donation form is critical to the success of any online donation experience. It’s important to ensure this form has been designed well, tested extensively and integrate with your other systems (such as your CRM and payment gateways).

  1. Have you performed extensive testing of your donation page?
  2. Have you checked all pre-defined amounts to make sure they process correctly?
  3. Have you checked all conditional logic in your forms?
  4. Do you have Google Analytics tracking for success/failure events?
  5. Does your donation form work on mobile devices?
  6. Are all non-HTTPS elements removed from the page?
  7. Does your donation from integrate directly with your payment gateway?
  8. Does your donation form integrate with your back-office financial systems and CRM? (such as Profiler or Salesforce)
  9. Do you have different landing pages for each campaign source?
  10. Do you track email, web, SMS and phone donations with different donation codes for future reporting/tracking?
  11. Do you have any anti-fraud measures on your payment gateway?

Usability

Many donation forms and fundraising websites commit serious usability sins. This is disappointing, given the amount of research conducted on this topic over the last decade or so. Make sure you read up on all the latest usability research when designing a donation experience. Many of the common problems can be easily avoided.

  1. Have you performed usability testing on your website?
  2. Do you understand what donors want on your website?
  3. Do you have a big donate button in the top right of your site template?
  4. Does you donation page hide all the distracting elements from the main site template? (e.g. menus, banners, sidebars, etc.)
  5. Do you have an Extended Validation SSL Certificate? (yes, I know this report is from a SSL certificate vendor – the takeaways are still valid)
  6. Do you have a responsive email template?
  7. Is there a clear way for donors to opt-out of fundraising emails?
  8. Do you display security trust-marks to reassure users of the security of your platform?
  9. Does the “Donate” link in your header link directly to the donation form? (linking to a “how-to-donate” page will lower your conversion rate)
  10. Is your donation page on the same domain as your main website? (vendor-provided domain-names are bad for usability – ensure you use your main domain or a subdomain of it)
  11. Does your donation page share common branding elements with your main website?

Communication

There are plenty of ways to communicate with your donors along the way, including before and after they make their donation.

  1. Is your homepage covered in appeal branding?
  2. Do you communicate your fundraising need with your donors clearly?
  3. Do you have your live tally clearly displayed on your website?
  4. Do you show how the money is spent? (fundraising costs vs program costs)
  5. Does each email campaign link to a separately tracked donation form?
  6. Have you updated your email lists with all new donors since your last appeal? (respecting existing opt-outs, of course)
  7. Do you display stories of transformation or other social proof across your website?
  8. Do you send confirmation emails to donors as soon as their donation is processed?
  9. Do you send a receipt promptly via email?
  10. Do you clearly display a phone number donors can call to get assistance?
  11. Do you tag significant donations for a prompt follow-up/thank-you call?

Infrastructure

If your website can’t handle the load, everything else was done in vein. Make sure you stress-test the site ahead of time, and utilise caching technologies whenever possible to reduce the server load.

  1. Have you stress-tested your donation form?
  2. Do you know how many simultaneous requests your site can handle?
  3. What is your backup/redundancy plan?
  4. Is your payment gateway or merchant facility expecting a influx of transactions?
  5. Do you load third-party resources in a non-blocking fashion? (I’ve seen websites directly request live tallies inline with the rest of their page rendering code. The third-party server couldn’t handle the load and brought down the the non-for-profit’s website)
  6. When does your SSL Certificate expire? (make sure it’s renewed until well after your appeal is over)
  7. Do you have error logging enabled? (even a quick email for donation errors)

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a broadcast technologist. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008 (getting my start in Community Radio while still at school), and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I work full time for Hope Media, and provide some freelance services through Media Realm.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden or Google+