May/June 2006

Donor Control and Comfort Increase Loyalty

by Max Bunch, Senior Vice President, The Stratmark Group

Take a moment and imagine you are standing in front of your local bank ATM, beginning the process of withdrawing money from your checking account. After inserting your card, you notice the screen you are now viewing is that of another bank. What's the natural reaction?

Questions pop into your head as you wonder:

Am I in the right place?
Did I somehow make a mistake?
Am I going to get charged a fee for this transaction?
Should I abort this process right now?

Continue to imagine that you hurdle your fear about the confusing message and proceed to the next screen that gives you options for a cash withdrawal. You need $50 for the evening but the screen will only give you options to withdraw $20 or $100.

This scenario may seem far-fetched, but this is how many donors feel when they go through online giving options that are designed to match technology capabilities as opposed to a donor's desires. It looks like Convio's newest offering, Convio5, is out to put donors at ease and in control as they proceed through the online giving process.

At our integrated solutions group, Itero, we use a significant number of customized landing pages and micro-sites created on the Convio platform to focus donor attention on a specific offer or campaign. If a donor hears about a nonprofit offer on television, in the mail or on the radio, sending him or her to a nonprofit home page can actually inhibit the giving experience. The home page offers myriad distractions that take the donor away from the offer that stimulated his or her original response. The micro-site, conversely, gives the donor the same look and feel as the offer that stimulated the response and gives the donor an immediate and convenient way to make an online gift.

Up until now, however, the ability to carry the creative look and feel from the micro-site to the actual giving page wasn't all it could be. The donor would be ready to give to the micro-site only to be whisked away to a page that had somewhat of a different look and feel due to software limitations. Like the ATM example above, taking a participant to an unfamiliar screen is disconcerting. Even if the screen is somewhat familiar, the subliminal message generated is "get on your toes, the process is changing."

Convio5 makes this transition absolutely seamless. Now, giving pages and landing pages can have unified creative and the number of customized landing and giving pages you can generate is unlimited. Since more personal and targeted messages get better responses, the ability to bring design customization of look and feel to a donation form is a significant improvement.

And what about the ATM example where you can only withdraw $20 or $100? This is reminiscent of giving donors a limited number of options that don't fit their immediate desire.

Yes, a $___ gives a donor control to a certain degree, but it can't determine when and how much a donor would like to give in a recurring gift. Nor does a $___ give the donor assistance in remembering a specific offer that will help feed a specific number of people, dogs or students. Customized donation pages give donors guidance but also provide significantly enhanced giving experiences.

In an industry that is bound by the motto "test, test and test again," the best thing about Convio5 is that it gives nonprofits the ability to find out just how much flexibility a donor really wants. With an endless capacity for creating giving pages and options, nonprofits now can find the exact combination that best suits their particular donors.

Nothing can replace the emotional reason that a donor is wed to your cause, but all things considered equal, a user-friendly giving experience gives nonprofits a leg up in the highly competitive field of development. Making this experience easy and on the donor's terms can increase the chances of getting that most important second gift and creating the highly valuable recurring donor.

Max Bunch serves as senior vice president of client services at Stratmark Group, a strategic marketing company exclusively serving the nonprofit marketplace.


Donor Control and Comfort Increase Loyalty | Convio