"User research finds significant deficiencies in non-profit organizations' website content, which often fails to provide the info people need to make donation decisions.
Non-profits would collect much more from their websites if only they'd clearly state what they are about and how they use donations. Our new usability studies revealed considerable frustration as potential donors visited sites and tried to discern various organizations' missions and goals — which are key factors in their decisions about whether to give money.
In 2008, non-profits got about 10% of their donations online, according to a survey by Target Analytics. Given the high growth rate for Internet donations, we estimate that they'll constitute the majority of donations by 2020. If non-profit organizations get their sites into shape, that is.
Well-designed non-profit websites are particularly suited for attracting new donors and efficiently supporting small-scale impulse giving. Websites are less effective at sustaining long-term donor relationships. For encouraging customer (or donor) loyalty, e-mail newsletters remain the Internet tool of choice.
To discover how to design non-profit websites to encourage donations, we took our usual approach: we empirically observed actual user behavior as potential donors used a wide range of sites. In total, we tested 23 non-profit websites, chosen to cover a range of categories: (below)
Most of the sites represented major national non-profits, but we also tested some smaller, local charities.
We tested 2 tasks:
* Choosing a recipient: Participants used 2 non-profit sites within a given category and decided which of the organizations — which had roughly similar missions — was most deserving of a donation.
* Making a donation: Using their own credit cards, participants made an online donation to the chosen charity. We reimbursed users for this expense after the study.
We recruited a broad sample of test participants, ranging in age from 20–61, with a roughly equal number of men and women. We included users with relatively little Internet experience (at least 1 year), as well as those with more experience (at least 3 years). Job titles spanned the alphabet, from attorney and bank assistant vice president to microbiologist, police office, small business owner, and teacher.
We screened out users who hadn't made at least 1 donation to a non-profit or charity during the preceding year. While there's a first time for everything, we wanted to test people who actually exhibit the behavior we were studying." (Continued via Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox) [Usability Resources]