Choosing Giving Levels for Online Donations
When thinking about your online donation landing page it is essential to consider the giving levels that you suggest to your potential donors. These little numbers end up conveying a lot about your organization and your fundraising priorities and can directly influence the giving amount that a donor chooses. Ask too little and you will likely receive less than a donor had planned to give, ask too much and you may deter lower level donors from giving at all.
There are a number of different approaches you can take to crafting your online giving levels. Take a look at the ASPCA, Nature Conservancy and American Red Cross as examples. The ASPCA lists dollar amounts from $20 to $100 working to elicit lower level gifts while the Nature Conservancy lists amounts from $50 to $10,000 implying an expected donation of much larger sums. The ASPCA is clearly speaking to first time or lower level donors while the Nature Conservancy has made a choice to address higher level donors with less attention to small gifts. Interestingly, and worth considering, the Red Cross chooses not to list suggested giving amounts at all.
Okay, so assuming you do want to suggest levels, how do you choose what the right giving levels are for your organization? (For the purpose of this post let’s narrow the field to one-time donations as opposed to monthly gifts. I’ll address that thought process at a later time.) For one-time donations, most often I see levels at $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500. These numbers reflect a generic progression of gift size for small- or medium-sized organizations. Let’s start here and ask some questions to see if we can make an argument to change any numbers in the progression.
First, take a look at your donation history overall. What is your lowest gift? If you get a substantial number of gifts smaller than $25, consider lowering the low point to $15 or $20 to include those donors in the online process. Plan on using the low number to try and push those low-level donations higher, so if you see a large number of $10 donations, consider making the lowest level donation $15 to encourage a slightly larger gift. (It is true that typing a 3 instead of a 2 is a lot easier than writing thirty instead of twenty on a check! So if you are seeing $15 via check, assume you can push at least a little online.) On the flip side, if you only get a few gifts lower than, say $35, consider that as your low level gift and work up from there. Don’t give your donors an easy option to give lower than their standard, make them type in $25 instead of $35 rather than providing a simple radio button for a lower gift.
Next, consider your highest gift amount listed. What is a realistically high gift amount for your organization? If you rarely see gifts larger than $1000 then don’t list $5000 as a top number! As with the lower level, you want to try and use these suggested amounts as ways to push your donors to stretch their gift. So if most larger gifts register at $250, consider a high level of $300 or $350 to push that gift higher but not alienate your donors.
At the high level, you also need to consider how much you are willing to give up in donation administration fees. If you are working with a 4% fee for credit card processing, at $25 you pay a $1 fee- not much to think about, but at $1000 that fee is $40, which is a substantial amount to loose from the donation. Make sure to calculate in your admin fees in the determination of the high value you want to encourage via online donation tools.
And once you have you high and low value, use your common sense to determine price points in between. Try to list somewhere between four and six values in total, with the increments being closer together at the low end and then farther apart as the amounts get higher. Always make sure to add an “Other” option, and do list that after the high end donation level to imply that this is for gifts larger than the top amount listed.
As a best practice, consider annotating (if your online donation too will allow) what each donation amount will “buy”. Take a look at the ASPCA’s donation page for a fantastic example of this concept.
Remember, the numbers you choose to suggest to your potential donors are pushing them to give at certain dollar amounts. Try to push your donors to give a little more, but make sure to provide them with options that meet their giving level. If you can’t find a reason to change the $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500 progression then go with it. No matter what you choose, run the giving levels for a test period, then stop and evaluate the response and adjust accordingly.