The Science Of The Ask: How To Optimize Your Nonprofit’s Donation Form

The Big Question

Can small changes on a nonprofit donation form lead to big changes in donation volume?

What We Tested

Over the last six weeks, GlobalGiving conducted an experiment to learn more about donors’ giving behavior. In the past, the default giving option (i.e., the auto-selected button) on our nonprofit project pages was always the lowest option on the page. These giving options are denominations that GlobalGiving nonprofit partners select (and can change) when they create their project pages. We had a hypothesis: If the default giving option was the largest listed amount less than or equal to $30, then the average donation would increase.

Why It Matters

Our success depends on our partners success! At GlobalGiving, our mission is to catalyze a global market for ideas, information, and money that democratizes aid and philanthropy. We continuously test our products to find ways to help nonprofits raise more money.

Our Method

We made the default giving option on our site the largest listed amount less than or equal to $30. Then, we monitored giving amounts to test our hypothesis.

The Ultimate Outcome

The good: The higher default value resulted in a 6-10 percent increase in total volume and average donation size. The less good: With the higher default value, there was a 0.5-2 percent decrease in conversions (people who completed their donation). Conclusion: The increase in donor volume makes up for the loss of the smaller donors.

Make It Yours

What does this mean for you? Ask and you shall receive. We believe in the power of small donors and collective giving, but that doesn’t mean every donor has to be a small donor. If a donor is prepared to give $10 to your cause, will they give you $20 if you just ask for it? Will they give you $30? How about $50?

It’s important to know your donor base and not scare them away with your ask. But believe in the value of the work you do. You don’t have to resign yourself to the lowest ask. If all you ask for is “just $10,’ then you’re likely to have a lot of donors that give you “just $10.” Emphasize the impact donation amounts (or a regular, recurring donation) can have on your work and ask for it. It never hurts to ask! Here are a few ways you can evaluate your nonprofit’s donation form:

  1. Review your current donation options. If you don’t have a second donation option over $10 and under $30, consider including one. Your default option will change to the higher one, and you might see 6-10 percent increase in total volume.
  2. Test different donation options on your donation form to see what’s most effective for your nonprofit.
  3. Consider giving donors more information about their impact. Adding descriptions of impact next to the donation amounts on your form may compel donors who don’t know your work to give. Test it out to know for sure!

Featured Photo: Greenlight for Girls gives girls access to STEM education.

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