Two weeks ago, I wrote an article on why most Catholic websites should not have a donate button, especially on their homepage. You can read that article by clicking here.
I received several comments about the validity of my viewpoint. Yes, my approach is not mainstream. In fact, it is contrarian. But why be mainstream if it is not working?
Why not ask the question, “what is the best way to get people to donate online?”
It’s a fact that most people who visit your website are either new visitors or looking to connect with you. When arriving at your homepage, people want to know what you do, where you are, and how they can interact with you.
Any request for a donation is usually overlooked.
Hope fundraising vs. Catholic fundraising
Most of the comments I received went like this, “If we remove the donate button, we are sure to lose everyone. It’s better just to keep it in case someone does want to give.”
This is what I call hope fundraising. Sure, if what you are looking for is anything you can get, go right ahead. Keep the button and see what happens.
In my experience, people donate after they have a relationship with you. They don’t give because you asked or had a donate button. Therefore, my approach always focuses on engaging with people and building their trust.
Let’s do the math: donate button vs. no donate button
Okay, let’s do a simple test to find which approach actually works better. Let’s estimate that you meet 1,000 people, or you have 1,000 people visit your website.
With the donate approach, you immediately ask for a donation, and with my approach, you only ask them to stay connected. The table below outlines what happens based on industry standards.
|% who respond to request||Number of people who respond||Amount raised (average donation $50)||% who respond when asked for a donation||Number of people who respond||Amount raised (average donation $100)||Total Raised|
|“Stay in Touch”||15%||150||$0||25%||38||$3,750||$3,750|
The approach which asks people to donate via a button raises $750. My approach, which asks people to first stay in touch, raises $3,750. I recommend you watch my YouTube video which goes into more detail about these figures.
You raise 500% more with my approach!
This is a massive difference, especially if even more people visit your website. The major factor is the initial response rate. When you ask people to donate before building a relationship, the response rate is only 1%. However, if you wait and focus on connecting first, the rate jumps to 15%. When you include the increase in donation amounts, $50 to $100, your fundraising moves forward much quicker.
Great charities understand this. They focus on how to get as many people engaged in their work. They do this by serving them first, not by asking them for money.
In a previous article (7 Ways to Give to Others), I walk you through the seven ways you can serve the people. Then, inspired by what you do, many will financially support you.
How to get people to donate online
How then should you ask for online donations if a prominent donate button isn’t the option?
My suggestion is as follows.
1. Have a donate page rather than a donate button.
2. Rather than inviting strangers (website visitors) to donate, only ask people you know.
3. Find the most personal approach to directing them to the donate page.
4. At specific times of the year, encourage your community to give. (I go into detail in this article how to do exactly this by using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as your foundation.)
5. Thank those people who donate in the most personal way possible. (a card, a phone call, an event, or even lunch)
For those who do not donate, thank them for considering your request, and ask them to consider a donation the next time you ask.
It’s important to remember that God places people in your life for a reason. If you follow hope fundraising, whereby you place a donate button and hope somebody clicks it, then you may get something. But will that support your dreams, passion, mission, and cause?
Is that going to help you help those around you?
Will this approach move forward with what God is asking you to do?
One of the great qualities of the Catholic Church is that we recognize the uniqueness of everyone’s path, and we take the time to use this as a starting point.
That’s why the sacramental life is so profound. We have seven unique sacraments for seven unique moments of life.
Let’s remember the uniqueness of each person and replicate this in our fundraising. Instead of just hoping people will donate, let’s reach out and look for ways to connect with them.
Question: What do you think is the best approach to getting people to click the donate button? (please leave your comment below)