In mastering online and mobile donations, what other sectors and brands should charities look to for inspiration? Our sector experts have their say:
Matt Collins, managing director, Platypus Digital:
I think charities should draw lots more inspiration from the tech entrepreneurs. A lot of these companies are very young, and so are not held back by traditional ways of thinking. They know how important digital is for attracting new customers, and they make it as easy as possible for people to take action on their websites.
In terms of making payments, Amazon have got it nailed. People click on PayPal, and don’t give a second thought to their security as they trust the brand. Amazon customers have an expectation that making the payment is super easy, and that expectation is filtering down to other businesses now.
Only a few charities accept PayPal at the moment, and really they all should. The charity sector is really lagging behind the big online retailers and startups in this regard.
Paul de Gregorio, head of mobile, Open Fundraising:
All charities should be inspired by anyone who has taken a ‘mobile first’ strategy. That doesn’t necessarily mean completely following what they’ve done, but looking at user experience and design and how payments are taken.
Take the taxi service Hailo, for example. We all used to just stand on a street corner and hail a taxi. Now, it can all be done - including making the payment - via an app on our mobile device.
Look at how those organisations who are spending millions of pounds on their user experience are making things easier for their customers to buy products. It’s all about making the experience of buying the product as frictionless as possible.
Learning from that, and applying it to the act of donating, is absolutely critical. Apps in particular are becoming super relevant.
Annabelle Risdon, head of charities, Give as you Live:
The newest and largest most powerful brands from the last ten years have all focused online - Amazon, Google, eBay, Apple to name just a few.
The banking sector in particular has invested heavily in online technology, as in the long term it saves them money: you need less resource to maintain it compared with traditional branches on the high street. And I think the results today are very obvious to everyone: compared with five years ago, so many of us are doing our banking online now. The same is happening with travel companies and people booking their holidays online.
I think charities are fully aware that they need to step up a gear, but they are generally slower to implement these sorts of things.
James Gadsby Peet, senior digital services manager, Cancer Research UK:
Digital first organisations such as City Mapper have incredible user experiences, as anyone who's used their app will attest to. In reality, it’s a fairly complicated tool, but it’s made to feel simple, easy and user-friendly.
It’s natural to look to the big eCommerce platforms when talking about donations; however, they don’t tend to focus on the elements of surprise and delight that should be so fundamental to charitable giving. We need to make the process as simple as possible, but without losing sight of the fact that we’re not just selling an everyday product - we’re helping people to beat some of the great injustices of society. We want to make them feel like heroes, not customers.
Neil Thornburn, digital transformation manager, RNLI:
eBay and Amazon are always benchmarks that many aspire to, but I value looking a bit leftfield, as here you can find examples that can shape the game a bit more.
In the online gambling space there are some great examples of technology meeting the needs of the users, with real time/in-play transactions (placing stakes and cashing in) changing the way users interact with the companies.
Having said that, it's always a good idea to keep the complete journey in mind, and not focus too much on a single payment mechanism or piece of tech for success. Adidas, which actually has a fairly mediocre eCommerce presence, sees great success with an effective abandonment strategy that allows them to re-target users that have failed to complete a transaction.