Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#GivingTuesday 2016 Secret Shopper Review!

This is the fourth year in a row I've done a #GivingTuesday online giving challenge. I really enjoy the time spent focused on giving. And I am excited to once again share the results of the study. This year I gave 46 gifts on #GivingTuesday. I have documented 33 of those experiences here for you in this spreadsheet.

While a vast majority of online giving experiences have improved in the last four years, we still have a great deal of work to do. Nonprofits NEED and MUST invest in the online donor experience. I gave gifts ranging in amounts from $10 to $1500 online on both my ipad, iphone and my laptop. Some nonprofits have invested in a great donor experience and it shows, others have not and it is apparent. There is a huge difference between those that get it right and those that struggle. Not just in the donation process, but also in the responses of confirmation emails and pages.

Some of the biggest disappointments:

1. A nonprofit wouldn't accept my gift if it was under $20, so I didn't give, such a turnoff.

2.  Someone thanked me on social media but spelled my first name wrong, sigh. DETAILS MATTER.

3. A few organizations will MAIL me my tax receipt, for an ONLINE gift during a day focusing on digital giving. sigh.

4. Many organizations aimed way too high in their targeted ask amounts and have the potential to really offend someone.

5. Many are asking me to pay for bank or credit card fees with my gift. This is the cost of doing business.  I don't think it's ever ok to ask donors to pay these fees. Think donor relations, restaurants, hotels and stores don't make me do that, why would you?

6. Social media sharing is still sorely lacking. It's 2016 people, social is here and could really increase my impact by asking me properly to share on social media- this is an example of social media sharing gone wrong-

7. Readability is an issue- it's great you want a fancy design- but who is the genius that came up with black on black as selections? I couldn't even read it to finish my donation!

8. Someone is asking me for my DINERS CLUB card- seriously? 1984 called, they want their giving options back! LOL

There are many more offenses in my list but these are my lowlights. The confirmation pages and  emails are boring and without creativity as well. Almost a perfunctory measure.  

Now the heavenly- Organizations that scored big points with me and understand the online donor behavior here are examples of doing it right!!

1. These targeted ask amounts are mission based and dreamy!

2. This donation button is so amazing- so much better than "submit" or "proceed"

3. Loved that this place encouraged me to give monthly, didn't just let me slide with a one time gift- great use of a pop up window!

4. Loved WPI's Twitter thank you! Woo hoo! I received far TOO FEW personalized thank yous this year. :(


5. Enjoyed this nonprofit showing me impact and inspiring me from the beginning of the process: Look at how clear and easy these two make it for a donor!!

6. Once again FIT blew others out of the water! Great theme, personalization and infographic of progress!! 


Folks, we still have a ways to go!   We CAN make this experience better for our donors. Join me in taking the challenge to do better for ALL donors. Who did you give to? What was your experience? What did you like and what did you not like? I can't wait to hear from you! Let me know!!


  1. I always look forward to your day-after report, Lynne. Your insights are spot-on, and I'm sure many of us will squirm with self-recognition when we see some of the mistakes you point out. But you do it all with good humor ("Diners Club? 1984 called, and they want their giving options back!" LOL) and in the sincere desire to make us all better at what we do.

  2. Thanks as always for this insight! It is a helpful learning experience for all. I gave to five organizations that I am passionate about and paid close attention to the result. I was actually quite surprised by charity: water. I am usually thoroughly impressed with their stewardship and impact reporting, but they solicited me again hours after my gift and then sent me a second "it's not too late" email the next day! I'm not offended or anything, just as a point of research, it was interesting to me. I look forward to seeing what I receive from everyone as time progresses.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing these examples -- especially the positives!

  4. Great overview, thanks Lynne. I actually made all of my donations on the Friday after Thanksgiving and was amazed that there are still organizations who require me to create an account,just to make a donation... Seriously? Why do you do that? There are so many systems there now where that's not needed. It would be like going on a first date and you're not able to meet until you have the ring on your finger... yikes. Other than that, great stuff! thanks for all you do,

    cheers, Erica

  5. All great observations...and clearly giving is in the eye of the beholder. One thing that we have found is that when nonprofits ask for their donors to 'cover processing costs', the data clearly shows that donors embrace this way of thinking, opting in nearly 80℅ of the time, and for some campaigns, 95%+.

    One way to think about it is that while you are right you are not asked to pay these fees at a restaurant, the business model of a restaurant depends on tips.

    And covering costs is a form of 'tipping' on top of your donation.

    So I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that offering an option for donors to pay for processing fees or offer a tip on top is bad form- the data suggests it's a best practice.