Knowledge is Power: 3 Tips to Know About Donation Processing

Today’s post is from Peggah Azarvash from iATS Payments.

Peggah is a passionate Sales Executive with 10 years’ experience providing payment solution support and guidance to nonprofits.

When some nonprofit professionals think of donation processing, they assume that this is the point at which all of their fundraising efforts have succeeded. Donors click into the payment system, and this last step is simply the reward for a job well done. 

However, reducing the donation process to just a “final step” is to ignore its real potential. If leveraged correctly, donation processing can be used to expand gift-giving, increase donor retention, encourage donor acquisition, and significantly improve future fundraising strategies. For the sake of your own nonprofit’s success, it’s critical that your team is well versed in the power of donation processing. 

In this short guide, we will review the following major techniques to know about your own donation processor: 

  • Optimizing Your Donation Form
  • Picking the Right Payment Processor 
  • Leveraging Donor Data 

With all the focus that’s paid to marketing and visibility strategies, the power of the donation process is often underutilized. Follow these essential strategies to leverage your donation processing system to its fullest potential. 

Optimizing Your Donation Form

The donation page is one of the final things that a donor sees on their journey. Consequently, it’s critical for your giving form to make a lasting, positive impression.

A functional donation form will successfully collect the relevant donor information and process their gifts. No more and no less. On the other hand, a fully optimized donation form can enrich the user experience, increase a donor’s trust and confidence in the organization, retain their future support, and even expand the amount that they ultimately pledge. 

Here are some of the key ways to maximize the efficiency of your donation form: 

  • Digital accessibility. In this day and age, it’s no longer feasible to have online content that isn’t optimized for all devices. In particular, mobile usage has become a major method of online navigation. Make sure that your donation page loads and displays correctly for mobile users, or you risk losing a significant portion of potential donations to impatience, frustration, and poor user experience.  
  • A simple, efficient design. Speaking of frustration, a surefire way to confuse and disengage users is to present them with a poorly designed or disorganized donation interface. Make the donation process as straightforward and as convenient as possible by eliminating unnecessary ask fields and redesigning layout to be as clean and as aesthetically pleasing as possible. This will greatly improve your donation form, both in terms of overall functionality and its role in enhancing the donor journey
  • Additional giving programs. Some donors are willing and able to give larger amounts on a more regular basis, but are unaware of these expanded opportunities for giving. They might be surprised to find that some programs, such as corporate philanthropy, require no extra payments on their part. Some additional options include a recurring gift option on your donation form and promotion of company giving programs such as matching gifts and volunteer grants. To learn more about these company sponsorship programs and how to establish them, check out 360MatchPro’s guide to corporate philanthropy and corporate relationship-building

Furthermore, if you’d like to implement these elements as smoothly as possible and receive even more professional expertise on donation form optimization, you might consider hiring a fundraising consultant. These dedicated experts can help identify what your own specific donors would like to see on your organization’s website, and take your donation operations to the next level. 

Picking the Right Payment Processor

In the grand scheme of the donation process, the tool that often gets the most attention from organizations is the donation page, and not without reason. As we’ve just discussed, that frontend interface is critical to the success of the donor journey and the image of your organization.

However, by focusing the attention so singularly on the donation form, many organizations are severely underutilizing the other side of the donation process: the backend. Your payment processor, the unseen mechanism responsible for the internal operations of donation processing, is an incredibly valuable resource that can affect the donor journey in ways you might not expect. 

The right payment processor can boost user engagement, reduce bounce rate, and help to better guarantee the pledge of every potential donor that clicks into your donation system. 

Look out for some of the following essential features in your own search for the optimal payment processing system: 

  • Full integration. Donors will automatically have their guards up if taken to a third-party site. This redirect not only takes up more of their time, but it might make them feel as if their personal data is less secure in this new database. A dedicated, fully integrated payment processor will eliminate this redirect and allow users to fill out a form right on your website. It can be customized to be branded to your website’s design for an altogether more comfortable and professional payment experience. 
  • Security. Security is never far from a donor’s mind as they weigh the risks of entering their personal information into your platform. Invest in a payment processing system that touts multiple levels of high-grade security measures, such as PCI compliance, encryption, and anti-fraud programs. This will reaffirm the confidence of your supporters and encourage the submission of ongoing and future pledges. 
  • Multiple payment options. When it comes to securing donor gifts, convenience is key. Maximize the convenience of your donation processing by offering an array of major payment options, namely credit, debit, and ACH. After all, donors shouldn’t have to struggle to offer up their support. They should be able to give how, when, and where they want, and by taking into consideration the individual preferences of your supporters, you greatly increase the possibility of a successful pledge. 

This iATS Payments buyer’s guide to payment processing can provide you with some valuable options to suit your organization’s needs. It shares a detailed breakdown of what each feature can do for your fundraising, as well as list some of the most highly regarded payment processors currently on the market. 

Never forget the importance of your backend donation processing. This software may have been built to go unnoticed by donors, but the effects that its operations can have on their engagements with your organization are far too important to be left up to chance. Opting for a system with these essential features will always be a worthwhile investment. 

Leveraging Donor Data 

Technically, the donation process is at the end of the donor journey. Yet, in many ways, when a donor submits a gift, this is just the beginning of their engagement with you. All the data that is gathered in your donation form and processor will allow you to study, segment, and communicate with them and all of your other donors in a more informed manner. 

Do not let this information go to waste, sitting in your database without being properly analyzed and addressed accordingly. Instead, use this data to improve your future fundraising and marketing efforts. Here are some of the fundraising metrics to collect and study in your donation processing: 

  • Names, ages, and personal demographics
  • Gift amounts and recurring gift status
  • Interest in newsletters and events
  • Additional giving program preferences 

These data sets will not only allow you to personalize your communications with supporters and thereby maximize engagement, but also strategize on what programs and events would provide the greatest opportunities for increased revenue. 

However, the task of effectively shaping this data into actionable goals is a challenging prospect. There’s no way that you can manually account for all of this information and efficiently organize it into usable solutions. Luckily, if you’re struggling to come up with ways in which your team could effectively track and respond to these metrics, there are some dedicated technologies that could help your organization do just that. 

Investing in a high-quality CRM is a great place to start. A constituent relationship management system can manage all the data that comes flooding in from your donation processor and sort these KPIs into actionable goals to maximize your fundraising strategies. 

On top of that, CRMs not only record and process this information, but they can also be programmed to automatically launch their own strategies for donor acquisition, retention, and engagement with automatic reminders, thank you emails, customized receipts, and more. 

Among all of the other tools and techniques that it takes to get potential donors to even land on your nonprofit’s website, the enrichment of the user experience through the donation process itself can sometimes be left behind. Don’t let the power of your own donation processing fall to the wayside. 

With these resources, suggested softwares, and intuitive optimization methods, you can leverage the donation process for all that it’s worth, acquiring more donors and donations than ever before and gaining long lasting support.

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