Rapidata is here with top tips for growing your income through online direct debits
Enabling your supporters to give regularly via direct debit is a crucial step in both generating stable income and building lasting and meaningful relationships with them. And yet, many charities still don’t provide the facility for supporters to set up a regular donation on their websites, while others offer a basic giving webpage that could be performing so much better.
If your charity is yet to set up a webpage, or you think you could be further maximising your regular giving programme, follow these easy steps:
Create a secure regular giving page
Enable your supporters to give quickly, easily and securely by setting up a reliable direct debit donation facility on your website. Work with your website developer, designer and fundraising team to create an appealing fundraising proposition for your page. For direct debit processing and for Bacs and banking compliance, it’s advisable to consult an expert that will be able to help you run your page seamlessly within your charity’s own website.
Validate supporters’ details
Your supporters are taking the time to sign up to you, so it’s in your interest to offer them a professional and secure service that validates their bank details at point of sign up, within your donation form. This avoids any delays to the process and/or embarrassing contact to correct bank details further down the line when the supporter may have lost the motivation and could change their mind. Don’t risk losing your new supporters: a simple bank modulus check embedded into your giving form will pick up any errors and prevent the direct debit from failing. This might sound technical, but it’s relatively simple and something that your payment specialists should be able to check for you.
Acknowledge new regular givers
Save both time and money by making sure you personally acknowledge and thank your supporters immediately after they sign up to a direct debit. Engage with your new supporter while their decision to give is fresh and front of mind, showing them how much you value their gift. An immediate automated and personalised email that adheres to the paperless direct debit (PDD) rules will confirm their gift details and connect you with them straight away.
Establish a first collection date
How quickly can you collect the first gift after a supporter signs up? The efficiency and frequency of your collections can make a significant difference to the funds you raise. From a processing point of view, you must provide an ‘advance notice’ before collecting the direct debit (usually 10 days), so optimise your regular giving by making several collections a month, and offer your supporters a choice of when to give. The default date should ideally be the next collection date possible. Don’t miss this ‘critical giving point’ – the sooner you collect, the sooner your charity-supporter relationship can build, and the sooner you can direct this support to your beneficiaries.
Test the gift amount
What you think your supporters will do and what they actually do might surprise you. Always test your giving processes; try changing the suggested gift amounts, the default amount, or the order in which they appear, i.e. the lowest to highest range or vice versa. Only through testing can you get a feel for the optimum gift amounts preferred by your supporters and what suits your cause. Include descriptions of what each gift amount means to your beneficiaries but, again, test the messaging and order of these. This is just one area to test and we could give another 8 top tips in testing alone!
Set up dedicated appeal pages for specific campaigns
It is not uncommon to see a direct mail appeal that asks for a special gift amount, or which calls for support for a specific crisis, project or programme of work that differs from the generic donation page on the charity’s website. If you are running a range of campaigns that have different messages and ask levels, you may wish to set up dedicated appeal pages. This will not only help you monitor each campaign’s results more effectively but may increase sign up rates and gift amounts.
Optimise your web pages for mobile
You may think this is obvious in this day and age, but websites need to be mobile optimised – and that includes your online giving pages! Not having an online direct debit page that is mobile optimised WILL limit your conversion rates. We are seeing 15%+ of online direct debit sign ups being made from mobiles and this continues to rise. When optimising your online giving page for mobile devices, consider reducing the level of information you both provide and ask for – remember mobile devices have smaller screens, plus mobile users generally want to sign up quickly and easily without being asked for too much information at that stage.
Stick to the rules
Lastly, once you have your online direct debit giving page and you’ve run through our list of tips, you must be sure your bank approves your web pages and ‘Advance Notice’ email. Before you go live, as a direct debit service user it is your responsibility to ensure your pages conform to the Bacs direct debit rules and guidelines for paperless direct debit collections.
Scott Gray is managing director of Rapidata Services Plc, a leading specialist in charity regular giving analysis and processing. Rapidata publishes the sector’s annual benchmarking report on regular giving trends with expert advice. You can download the last report for FREE