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Ask your mom or dad to make an online donation!

Are you struggling for ways to increase online donations? Do you think your online donation process is clear and simple?

If it isn’t, you are almost certainly losing potential gifts and the truth is — you’re probably too close to the process to judge for yourself.

So why would I suggest asking your parents to test your online donation process? Well, hopefully they’re willing to do you a favor, but they’re also less likely to be computer-savvy and won’t mind having you observe them while they make the donation. Okay, it doesn’t really have to be your parents — anyone in your family or circle of friends who you think is a little “technically-challenged.”

So here is how I suggest you perform the test:

The next time you’re at their house, ask them to sit down at their computer and go to your organization’s website to make a $50 donation (more if you think you can get away with it ;-). Tell them you just want to watch them go through the process. Encourage them to verbalize any thoughts or questions while they’re doing it, but make it clear that you won’t be able to answer their questions until after they are done.

Now the hard part — stop talking and watch. Take notes about your observations and their questions and comments, but avoid the temptation to guide them or answer their questions. You can’t be there to help other donors so you won’t get a realistic view of the donor experience if you interfere.

Here are a few things you should try to notice:

Do they have trouble finding your website?
Do they have trouble getting to the correct page to make a donation?
What steps seem to take them a long time?
Do they seem to be confused by the donation options they are offered?
How long does it take them to complete the process?

After they are done, you can ask for additional feedback and ask questions that occurred to you while you were observing them. Obviously repeating this exercise with other family members and friends will give you the broadest insights, but even one or two experiences will probably uncover things that you didn’t realize were problems.

Most importantly, improve your website and donation form based on these insights. Change your call to action link if they didn’t immediately find the donation page because the link said, “Give your support” and they were looking for the words “Donate Here.” Reduce the options and text if they felt there was too much to read. Increase the font if they had to put their reading glasses on. Small changes can make a big difference — not just for your parents, but for all your potential donors.

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