How to Refine the Donation Experience

An excellent user experience is hard work. In the nonprofit world, the journey there is even more challenging. Nonprofits are trading money for products and services. We accept donations in exchange for impact. It’s meaningful but less transparent.

For-profit businesses have team members, vendors, and customers. Most nonprofits have those roles, plus donors, volunteers, and the people they serve. That’s a lot to manage.

This complexity often bleeds into the online giving experience. At New Story, we made significant optimizations to our donation flow. The changes became the inspiration for DonorSecure:

• two-step donation flow

• fewer input fields

• subtle prompts along the way

• engaging ‘donation abandonment’

• inviting donors to cover costs

Two-Step Donation Flow

There are two main reasons we stand behind a two-step donation flow: increased speed and conversion.

When donating is fast, more people do it. Our donation flow is fast because Step 1 only requires information that donors have memorized. Step 1 of the DonorSecure flow includes:

  • Donation Amount
  • Donor Name
  • Email

Donors don’t have to look this information up. In most cases, it populates from their browser settings. By merely clicking the first box, their browser often auto-fills everything else. It takes seconds.

Fewer Input Fields

Simplicity is kindness. When the donation flow has an extra field, it creates more decisions for donors and reduces the likelihood they’ll convert. Of course, it’s essential to fill out CRM data, but we place that information AFTER the donation.

Here are a few fields we’ve removed that delay donor decision making or frustrate donors;

  • Address
  • Phone
  • Honoree
  • Gender
  • Birthday

Are these fields helpful to nonprofits? Absolutely. There is no denying the value of collecting this information, but the question is when. When ordered in conjunction with donating, it decreases the odds they don’t complete the process.

Subtle Prompts

Sometimes, it’s the little details that are the most impactful. We’ve added subtle prompts throughout the donation process. Our most common prompts include:

  • An ask to cover the fees
  • An ask to give recurring
  • An ask to share more information

Prompts are all about timing. If you ask too much, the process gets complicated, and donors get distracted. If you ask too little, nothing happens. Our prompts are placed throughout the donation flow to complement the primary calls to action. The result is increased funding and more recurring commitments.

Donation Abandonment

A considerable part of increased conversion is reducing drop-off. In e-commerce, this is ‘cart abandonment.’ Most online transactions are started but not completed.

People get distracted. Maybe they needed to find their credit card. Drop-off happens for many reasons, but the fact remains, more people have started donating to your organization than completed the process.

A two-step process collects the essential information to followup. Because of the ease of Step 1 and the collection of their contact information, we can engage them via email if they don’t complete their donation.

Cover the Costs

At New Story, 70% of donors check the box to cover the costs of online giving. Costs can include transaction fees, hosting costs, maintenance, and other digital tools needed to provide effective online giving.

Most organizations don’t realize they’re spending 5-12% of every donation on back-office costs. That’s potentially $10 of fees for every $100 donation. We help nonprofits recoup those costs by inviting donors to chip-in.

We provide a simple, clear ask, and donors cover the costs at a staggering rate. When to factor this into recurring gifts, the results are incredible.


The future of philanthropy is speed, flexibility, and efficiency. There is no magic bullet for an improved donor experience. It requires victory by a thousand small wins.

Ready to sign up for DonorSecure and start your recurring program? Sign up here.

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