Three steps to building the case for a mobile-optimized donation form

publication date: Apr 3, 2014
author/source: Holly Wagg

Holly Wagg photoHave you taken a look at your website lately on a smartphone or an iPad? In a perfect world, your charity would have a responsive website that could be optimally viewed on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones alike.

Can you navigate around without having to pinch and pull to make the copy bigger? Can you easily click on links? And, here’s the big one: how cumbersome is it to complete a donation online?

You know you have a problem, but you also know that your charity isn’t ready to take its online presence to the next level. There’s no budget for a website redesign.

You’re probably losing money because donors come to your site and don’t complete gift transactions. And the likely culprit is that donors are using mobile devices and tablets, and you don’t have a mobile-friendly donation form.

Here’s how you can gain some insights as to whether or not you have a problem, and build the case for having a mobile-optimized donation page.

1. How donors read email

Email is the workhorse of any online fundraising program. It’s a direct communication with your donor that drives them to make a gift. This group will also respond to your emails better than any other segment.

How many of your donors open your email on a mobile device?

If you use an email service provider like MailChimp, you can find that stat out easily enough. You might be surprised to discover that 30 - 50 per cent of your donors open your email on a mobile device.

Now, it goes without saying that your email template should be mobile optimized. If you haven’t already done that, do make it a priority. Donors want to read what you have to say on an easier format.

Put yourself in your donor’s shoes for a moment. You open and read an email that moves you, an email that motivates you to click through to the donation page. You’re reading this email while waiting in the doctor’s office, on the bus, on the way home, or while eating your lunch at the office.

You make the decision to donate, and in that instant you land on a page that is not mobile friendly. You have to persevere to make your donation because the form is so cumbersome, and let’s face it, most of your donors are not that patient and committed to you. 

Ask yourself: how many people are failing to support your cause because you’ve made it too difficult for them?

2. How donors visit your website

 Google Analytics can provide you with a lot of insight on your visitors and their behaviours. To build your case, you need to demonstrate that you have the website traffic to warrant this type of investment.

In Google Analytics, take the following search path: Audience > Mobile > Overview

Now that you know how your audience accesses your content—by desktop, tablet or mobile—what do you see? The general rule of thumb used to be that if 10 per cent of your traffic came from a mobile device, then you needed a mobile-optimized website.

3. How donors access your donation form

Now that you know how people are accessing your website content, let’s see what they’re doing on your donation page.

First, take a look at the difference in experiences from your donor’s perspective. Pull out your smartphone for this one. For example, Movember and War Child  have mobile-optimized donation pages, while the Canadian Red Cross and Sunshine Foundation do not.

In Google Analytics, take the following search path: Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages

From the list of landing pages, pull up your donation page. Here’s a helpful primer on how you can make sense of the data.

Now I want you to dig a little deeper. Let’s find out which device people are using when they access your donation page. Right below the graph there’s a secondary dimension option. From this menu select visitor and then device option. Now you can see which devices your donors are using to visit your donation page.

Have a look at your traffic to see how much of it is coming from mobile or tablet devices. Then, look at the average time spent on your donation page. Is it really short or really long for mobile devices? That’s a clue that you might have a problem. No one can make a donation in 10 seconds or less.

You’ll also want to have a look at your bounce rate. If people come to your donation page via their smartphone, and then leave your website right away through that page, it’s a sign that you’ve likely missed your opportunity to close that gift.

Building the financial case

Admittedly, this is a bit loose and imperfect (I’m presuming that you don’t have eCommerce tracking installed and haven’t set up goals or other funnels), because we’re working with the data that you’re likely to have access to today. Some things to think about:

  • How much money did your charity raise online last year, or in the first quarter of 2014?
  • How many gifts were made and what was the average gift? 
  • What was the conversion rate?
  • What percentage of your visitors come to your website on a tablet or mobile phone?
  • Do you know or can you estimate from what you’ve seen in analytics?

The example of CharityDoGood

CharityDoGood raised $10,000 in the first quarter of 2014. There were 2,500 visitors to the donation page where 150 gifts with an average value of $82 each were made.

During this time frame, 24 per cent of web traffic to the donation page came through a mobile device. Of the visitors who came in on a tablet (9 per cent), the average time on the page was six seconds. It’s pretty safe to say that none of those visitors likely made a donation at that time.

Of the visitors who came in on a mobile device (15 per cent), it’s a little harder to tell what happened. Their average time on the donation page was one minute and 52 seconds—nearly two times longer than a desktop check out. The clue to what’s happening here is in the bounce and exit rates. Use of mobile devices was double that of the use of desktop devices. This means that twice as many people on a mobile phone are likely not completing their gift transaction in comparison to those on a desktop, illuminating the fact that there’s an issue with the form itself.

Using this data for its first quarter, I’d estimate that CharityDoGood lost roughly 33 gifts for approximate revenues of $2,700—that’s a quarter of revenue raised during that time period!

There you have it. Now you know what data you can ask for, how to make sense of it, and how to find out if you have a case to build. And, even better, it should take you less than a morning to pull all of this together to present to your supervisor or board of directors.

If you’re numbers are as sweet as CharityDoGood’s, then you may be able to raise 25 per cent more this year with a fairly simple adjustment.

Holly Wagg is a consultant at Good Works: a national consulting firm that specializes in helping charities build highly loyal donor constituencies. Holly would love to hear from you at

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