The 5 stages of the giving experience

What makes an individual decide to donate to a nonprofit? This is a question organizations have been trying to answer for years. Individuals make up over 70 percent of donations to nonprofits and recently audiences seem enthusiastic about playing a part in arts, education and other good causes, according to Network For Good.

So how do you capture their attention? First of all, nonprofits must realize inspiring donations is not a singular act, rather organization materials must meet donor demands at every turn of the giving process. Here are the 5 common steps donors take when giving to nonprofits and how organizations can satisfy their needs at each one.

1. Awareness
In order for an individual to give money to a nonprofit, someone or something must bring the organization to the person's attention. This can be a simple matter of a grocery clerk asking shoppers if they would like to contribute a dollar to a cause supported by the business or photos from a recent fundraising event shared on the potential donor's Facebook feed.

There is no shortage of ways to create awareness of your nonprofit brand. You can team up with local businesses, pay for ads, spread materials online, hold major events and have volunteers advocate to friends. What's important is that each of these messengers are spreading the same essential content. If material isn't familiar, your organization basically starts over with each new contact.

2. Research
Most donors don't just blindly give their money to a nonprofit. Sometimes they'll just ask a couple questions before contributing, but mobile technology makes it easy for donors to research any organization they plan to support in detail. It's important you have plenty of information available for the public and that it will display properly on modern communication platforms.

This information should highlight the many ways audiences can get involved. This is where many organizations come up short. The Nonprofit Times shared data from a Fidelity Charitable of Boston survey that found only 47 percent of donors have gifted something other than cash, such as stocks, bonds or mutual funds. Many audiences don't realize there are other options or how they would go about donating unique gifts.

3. Contribution
It is possible for donors to go right from research to donation, but many individuals will begin their relationship with a nonprofit by testing the waters through some other form of contribution. After reading about a cause, individuals may choose to attend an event. Social media users may share videos or stories they found particularly moving.

These contributions should be recognized by the nonprofit as they help create materials for steps one and two while making a potential donor feel connected to the nonprofit's success. Sometimes audiences may send direct questions - or even criticisms - to the cause. These are equally valuable as they provide direct insight into the thoughts and opinions of certain demographics. Organizations should log the details and use this data to create content and mailing lists for future fundraising campaigns.

4. Donation
Presenting potential donors with a lot of information helps audiences find the details they're looking for and allows the nonprofit to appeal to wide demographics. When an individual is about three quarters though the inbound marketing journey, however, DonorDirect advises streamlining online materials and guiding audiences directly to donation buttons.

Once individuals have shown enough interest to research and contribute to an organization, they should be directed by calls to action and intuitive web design to simple payment options. Donation forms should be streamlined for viewer convenience and speed. At live events, credit card processing technology means volunteers are ready to accept gifts through the donor's preferred choice of payment.

A simple online donation form keeps the giving experience moving forward. NPengage said most charity websites see a donation form abandonment rate of about 50 to 70 percent. No matter how much time audiences invest, they'll leave the process when they hit a snag or grow frustrated.

5. Follow through
The giving process isn't over once an individual hits send on their donation or hands cash over at a live event. You should send information to donors about how their money was spent so they realize they made the right choice. Seeing their money put into action will encourage them to tell their friends and contribute again.

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