Do you know what your donors want when they visit your site? Do you know why they are there or what they want out of the experience? Understanding the motivation behind your site’s users can help you direct them to the path of giving.
There are two reasons why people do what they do. 1) We do some things because we are motivated personally – we want to feel good about ourselves. 2) We are motivated socially - we are social creatures who care about our friends, family and fellow citizens and want to feel a part of something.
You’re probably thinking, “Well this is perfect for nonprofits because we are saving the world. It will be easy for us to communicate to the outside world that what we’re doing will deliver some positive feelings or a sense of benefit to them.”
Unfortunately it’s not that simple. There are several problems with that kind of thinking. The first is that your users are not like you. If everybody outside of your organization cared as much about your cause as you do, your organization would have everything it needed. Your goal is not to get them to care as much you do. Your goal should be to reach people where they are. Find one thing about your cause they can relate to now and show them that.
Secondly, we have been programmed to believe, “If you build it, they will come.” When you’re talking about certain functions of your website, that simply might not happen. If you give them too many opportunities, they may be overwhelmed and turned off. Show them something to care about, but don’t have so much going on, they don’t know what they should do.
Another problem – and the one that hits closest to home - is users can smell a fake opportunity a mile off. A lot of time, when nonprofits say “Donate to our cause and we’ll make you a member of our community,” what they really mean is “Give us some money and we’ll send you a newsletter every once in a while.” In today’s social environment, that is simply not acceptable. Your message needs to be a statement of shared purpose, “Together we can build something” or “You will get something out of this that isn’t just a simple fee-for-service transaction dressed-up as membership, but is actual participation.”
When trying to create this environment for your users, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the opportunity for the user - will the user feel a sense of accomplishment or belonging?
- How am I articulating that opportunity -is there a way I can show the user my appreciation other than a thank-you email?
- How can I give the user an experience that is satisfying to them -how can I get people who care a little to give a little?
- Is there a way to create an opportunity for my users to create value for each other - can we create an environment where supporters thank each other, engage each other, encourage each other?
Finally, when you are thinking through your organization’s relationship to your supporters, don’t think since users have always done things a certain way in the past, they will continue to do so. The way people give has changed so much in just the past few years. Make sure you are open to that change too. Remember, improving a donor’s experience starts with meeting their needs, not yours.
Adapted by Kristina Leroux