I must admit I have been a little surprised by how hard it has been to get charities to buy into the Website Donations Research.

I just thought this would be useful information for everyone and that they’d welcome it with open arms. And if I’m honest I’ve only really had the door politely shut in my face once (unite unexpectedly), but most people have been quite cautious. Only 6 charities jumped on it with excitement.
Shanelle Newton Clapham

This is my unimpressed, frustrated face

So I find myself wondering – are fundraisers just not interested in improving their website donations or are they wary of me? Or perhaps the correctly worded question is, are they wary of my motives for the research?

Why are fundraisers hesitant?

Because it helps me to work through my thoughts, I’ll attempt to consider these 2 possibilities.
Is this research of interest?
I know that I love digital more than most, but for all the reasons below I thought this research would be useful to every charity.
  • Despite online usage being higher than all other forms of media, Website donations still make up a small percentage of total revenue (usually less than 10%)
  • With mobile usage increasing, there’s never been a better time to update your website donation pages (to be mobile friendly)
  • There is no benchmark or research into what makes a great online donation experience
  • Most organisations heavily reliant on traditional fundraising channels are talking (a lot) about need to diversify [into digital]
  • It can cost a lot less to acquire and process a donation online and
  • People tend to give higher average gifts via a website donation (than through direct mail or telephone)
  • This is a great opportunity to capture and share knowledge with the whole industry and break down insights by charity sector and size.
So I’m failing to understand why charities wouldn’t want to be a part of this research.
Which makes me wonder, is it me?
Firstly I have to address that I am perhaps being quite egotistical here as its not “me” doing the research, it’s Parachute Digital.

Are fundraisers wary of Parachute Digital and our motives?

So if I step back a minute and take the personal out of it, why would charities be wary of Parachute Digital?
  • Maybe they don’t know who we are? Or don’t know us well enough to trust us with their 3 months of website donations data?
  • Is it the wrong time of year (yes, in Tax Appeal season) – but is there ever a good time to ask me to do something for a 3rd party?
  • Are they concerned we’ll publish or share their data? We’ve offered to sign an NDA
  • Are they worried we’re going to try and sell them a (useful) benchmarking report?
  • Do they not care about our mission to give their donors a great online experience?
I’m not foolish. I know that like most things in life it is probably a combination of many of those things.
And the biggest barrier is likely that they are busy. I haven’t been able to explain it to them properly and they haven’t taken the time to understand what we’re trying to achieve and that our motives are pure and for the greater good of the charity sector.

Failing slowly

But as a marketer and fundraiser I know all too well that really I just haven’t made this research relevant enough to them. I can’t show you how it’s going to make your life better or easier by spending 10 minutes to pull the data and sharing a few social media posts.
And for that, I feel like I am failing at this first very important price of research that we undertook.
But this isn’t failing fast. It’s a year long, slow and drawn out failure that I can’t turn around.
But every great person says that you learn more from your failures than your success.
So for that I’m sure I will be grateful (at some future date).
But if I’m wrong, and you’ve just been busy but now that the Tax/ Winter appeal is finished you can look at this, please submit your data to help us make our research awesome.
Website Donation Pages Research