Online fundraising is tough and rife with challenges all along the way.  It’s not easy to get people to pay attention to you instead of the huge volume of other causes (and videos and games and news stories and pictures and messages) battling for their attention.  And even if you do grab their attention, it’s tough to showcase your organization in a way that instantly piques the interest of the fickle average website visitor.

And even if you manage to pique their interest, it’s a tall order to convince someone that they should give some of their own money to support your cause.

But let’s say you’ve accomplished all of these things.  The last thing you need is to lose a potential donor to a difficult donation process.

Here are a few common barriers to online giving that can hopefully help turn more potential donors into actual supporters of your nonprofit.

#1 – Your Donation Process Doesn’t Look Like Your Website

Once a visitor has decided to donate to your cause, make the process as seamless as possible.  Even if you use a donor management system, the design of your donation page should at the very least match that of your website.

In a 2012 study on online giving, Network for Good found that nonprofits with a donation page that matched their website raised 6 times more than those with a donation page that looked different than their site.  The average gift was also about 20% higher for nonprofits with a consistent donation page.

#2 – Your Donation Process is Too Complicated

Your potential donors want to support your cause, not fill out details about their personal lives.  Keep the information you ask for to a minimum.  While there’s no perfect amount of info to collect, make sure you can justify the need for every piece of data you collect.

#3 – Your Donation Process Doesn’t Match Expectations

Tell your donors what to expect from the process.  How long will it take?  Will they stay on your website?  Will you be following up with them in any way?  Telling potential donors what to expect (and living up to your word) will help ensure they know what they’re in for when they start the donation process.

Also, if your donation process spans multiple pages, indicate progress in some way.  It shows your users they’re accomplishing something and helps illustrate how much remaining effort is needed to complete the process.

#4 – It’s Unclear How You’ll Use Donations

Most donors want to know not only who, but what they’re giving their money to support.  In the 2012 Millennial Impact Report, Millennial donors (ages 20-35) reported their primary pet peeve about nonprofit fundraising was “when I don’t know how my gift will make a difference.”

It’s something potential donors care about.  It’s your job to tell them exactly how you’ll be using their donations to change the world.

#5 – Your Financial Information is Hard to Find

Another piece of information many potential donors look for is your nonprofit’s financials.  In fact, one study on high-performing nonprofits found both individual donors and advisors who counsel others on how to donate money cited “financials” as the number one piece of information they look for prior to making a decision to donate.

Make your financials easy to find.  It can help foster trust and make potential donors feel more comfortable in sending their money your way.

#6 – There’s No Clear Path to Donate

No matter what page on your website a visitor is viewing, there needs to be a clear path to donate.

You’re likely telling your story in a variety of ways throughout your website.  There’s no way for you to know at what point a visitor will read something that resonates and decide they’d like to support your cause.  Make it easy for them to do so.

You can do this by making your donate buttons stand out visually and placing them in fixed positions in your header and footer.  You can also put links throughout your content where you think it’s appropriate.

Whenever a visitor is moved to donate, ensure they can easily find the path to make it happen.

#7 – Your Story Doesn’t Connect with Donors

We talk a lot about storytelling on this blog.  But it’s so important when it comes to online fundraising.  Donors want to support causes they believe in and feel a sense of connection with in some capacity.

If you’re struggle with online fundraising, revisit your approach to telling the story of the work your nonprofit is doing in your community.  Revamping your storytelling may just be the difference you need to turn website visitors into supporters.

Have you encountered other barriers to online giving?  Or have you either faced or dealt with any of these barriers in the past?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass, Flickr