#1 Think of small gift donors as impulse buyers. It needs to be as easy for them to give $10 to you as it is for them to pick up a candy bar at the checkout aisle. Katherine Lumb made this great remark on Twitter a while back: "Usability 2.0 is not so much 'I can't figure this out' as it is 'I don't have time for this sh*t'."
When you're asking for a $5 - $25 donation, you're not competing with other charitable giving. Instead, you're up against daily consumer spending. It's a quick choice. Not unlike ordering a pizza instead of cooking dinner or picking up a magazine at the grocery.
The mental barrier to giving is very low. But the expectation for an easy process is extremely high.
This American Life (my very favorite show) routinely asks listeners to give $5 or $10 to cover the streaming costs of its free podcasts. Keep it free. Keep it from burdening our home station. Reasonable request, right? I've gone to the Web site to give three times, but have never actually gone through with it. Why? Because I'm confronted with this - a form designed for pledge week:
It's long. Requires a credit card. And doesn't appear to offer to save my information to make it easy for me next time.
Compare that it Kiva.org. Hipsters' favorite little international loan collective. They ask for ~$25. A little higher, but still in the impulse give category. After I fill in my amount, it can be this simple:
Can I choose to give by credit card? Yeah. Or, I can just login with Paypal and it knows all my address and personal information + let's me give with one click.
It's fast, easy and relevant to the way I want to give.
How can This American Life take this impulse give approach into their own fundraising efforts? Four suggestions:
- Make PayPal a payment option on the site.
- Make recurring payments easy - either automatic or text / email to confirm
- Offer text to give (The host asks for a $5 gift during the program. Asking people to text a short code to a number to automatically have a $5 charge added to their phone bill is about as easy as it gets)
- Partner with iTunes or other fulfillment sources to let listeners name their own price for the podcast (letting them give while they're directly getting the value)