How We Increased Donations by $3,800 in 10 Minutes

Welcome to the new year, and The Digital Nonprofit’s new blog! Our new year’s resolution is to share insider tips, insights, and tricks we’ve learned on nonprofit marketing—and do it every Monday! This week, we’re sharing some interesting numbers on how a small tweak to your website copy can dramatically increase donations. Let’s dive right in:

The hypothesis

New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia is our longest-standing client, and this winter they wanted to make sure their website was ready for end-of-year appeals. It was a great inclination, since their traffic surges in December—so even just a 1% increase in donations could result in an extra thousand dollars.

One area we highlighted for an update was the main navigation. As it stood, NSM’s donate button was hidden in an awkward pop-up menu that appeared once someone moused over “Get Involved”. You can see it in the image below:

The “before” picture of New Sanctuary’s website

Knowing that small changes in website copy can have a big impact, we suggested simplifying the navigation.

Our hypothesis was that every little bit of extra friction reduces the chance that someone will complete their donation. In this instance, we guessed that the “Get Involved” title, pop-up menu, and distracting “for congregations” links were all points of friction. In the old menu, visitors might not have known there was an opportunity to donate at all!

In the end, we swapped out the “Get Involved” button for a simple, but more meaningful “Donate”. Here’s the result:

 The “after” picture: a much clearer navigation The “after” picture: a much clearer navigation

Since their website is WordPress-based, it was no problem at all to re-arrange the navigation. For the time being, we put the other links in that sub-menu in the footer. All in all, it took 10 minutes.

It was sort of anti-climactic really—once the quick change was made, we just had to sit back, enjoy our holidays and wait for the numbers to roll in!

The cold, hard, numbers—did it work?

After the holidays, I dug into the data to see if anything happened, and was pleasantly surprised at the results!

Our small change increased the donation rate by 27.38% over the previous year!

 Graph of donations in December 2018 vs December 2017 Graph of donations in December 2018 vs December 2017

Or put another way, 19 extra people donated this year because of these website changes! (Since 69 people donated during the given period, 27.38% of that number would be 18.8, rounding to 19).

This increase is even more important because overall website traffic decreased since last year (that’s why the first number is red in the image). So even though NSM attracted less people to their website, they got a lot more of them on average to donate once they arrived, mitigating the impact of the decreased traffic.

But what we really want to see is the difference in dollars and cents, right?

To do that, we’ll multiply the 19 extra people by average amount people donate to NSM, $200. That gives us $3,800 in donations that was brought in by this simple change.

I’ll rephrase that in case you didn’t catch it:

This 1 change that took all of 10 minutes brought in $3,800 in just one month!

Better yet, it will continue to improve NSM’s bottom line over time, and additional improvements we make will boost that number even higher.

Now, this wasn’t a perfect experiment, because we’re comparing year-over-year results rather than an A/B test, and we’re just below the number of conversions necessary to make the results statistically significant. That said, NSM’s website has not dramatically changed during that year, and since we already know from other studies that these changes do in fact work, we can confidently claim at least some improvement as a result of this tweak.

 Although not statistically significant, the margin is large enough to confidently say it made a difference. Although not statistically significant, the margin is large enough to confidently say it made a difference.

The power of small changes

I mean, even if it only brought in an extra $100 a month, wouldn’t that be worth the 10 minutes we spent?

I think it would—that’s what we’re all about at The Digital Nonprofit. Using data, industry knowledge, and insights from real donors to find the smallest possible change that will yield the biggest possible impact.

Especially in small organizations like New Sanctuary, this philosophy is especially powerful. In the past year, they’ve likely spent less than $2000 on our services, and just this one change brought all that money back in, and more!

If you want to discover small changes that can increase your nonprofit’s donations, feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help. We’ll take a deep dive at your challenges, offer tips, and crunch the numbers to see what you stand to gain.

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