CDE project 11c digital section 2 part 3: putting the principles and actions into practise

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 28, 2017

Marketing consent

Considering charities will be in the spotlight on fundraising and consent matters for the foreseeable future, it is vital your online marketing consent statements and processes are fully robust and compliant. Any form of digital interaction that produces or keeps personal data needs to be carefully planned and supervised to rebuild trust. All processes should be regularly spot checked and revised to keep up to date with changing regulation in this area.

Detailed recommendations:

  • The Institute of Fundraising’s FAQs on fundraising include advice on both data protection and consent and a guide to optimise fundraising websites [1].
  • A comprehensive guide to the legal aspects of consent and marketing can be found here [2].
  • The UK Fundraising website has also published advice on creating appealing permission statements for charities [3].
  • A more detailed guide around marketing consent, based on desires, fears and brand communications and including a matrix against which charities can test their own website, can be found on DMA’s website [4].
  • IoF and Fastmap effective marketing: Fundraising Media DNA 2016/17 is accessible to IoF members [5].
  • Concerning the use of third party platforms, the IoF has published a guide to support charities in making the most of online donations [6] as has a financial advice website [7].




[4] and 




Email marketing

Once consent has been obtained, email communications are still an activity that needs careful planning. It is important for charities to know their audience well when communicating by email. Empirical testing can answer questions such as:

  • How often do the supporters want to receive an email?
  • How much content can or should an email have?
  • What time of the day/week is the best time to send it?
  • What style of communication is most appreciated?
  • What is the optimal mix of asks, updates, thank you messages?

Shout’s White Paper emphasised, specifically because many charities were not doing so:

  • The importance of including a sender’s name in every email, to avoid it being sent to the spam folder and allow for personalised relationships
  • The value of buttons allowing for every action on their website to be shared on social media
  • The importance of style and language, such as a warm style in donation confirmations
  • To be personal on the part of the sender, highlight achievements and how this donation will make a difference.

Mobile-oriented design and browser adaptation

Research from 2014 showed that responsive web design, i.e. websites adapted to mobiles, tablets and other screens, increased conversion rates by a third [1]. Website visits from mobile devices overtook traffic from desktops in the UK in 2015 [2] and mobile donations are increasingly popular.

According to a 2015 study, charities are lagging behind in adapting their websites to mobiles and tablets. An increasing proportion of online donors express a preference for mobile uses, thus this merits some attention.


  • make a strategic decision to invest - responsive or adaptive design? The Red Cross provides a good case study [3]
  • avoid too small links - finger-friendliness
  • avoid unidentifiable links
  • avoid excessive zooming and scrolling for users
  • label buttons clearly
  • have an easily accessible menu [4]. Look at Citizens Advice’s website for a good example of all of the above.





Search Engine Optimisation

Charities need to ensure that their website as well as the donation page are easily found through search engines such as Google. Potential donors may not know the name of the charity if they are cause-driven, thus it is important to appear high up on

the list of searches for the keywords the charity considers as strategic.


  • Use important keywords throughout the site, tips can be found here
  • Link it to related sites, giving platforms and social media
  • Build a recognisable brand
  • Encourage supporters to share the page
  • Create content that is worth sharing, and easily shareable

How donations are accepted

The way we pay for things – and by extension – the way supporters make donations is changing very rapidly. There are now a myriad of options – and to offer supporters choice and ease you must stay on top of them.

It is crucial that charities make it simple, easy and quick to make donations online, via text, through messaging apps, through contactless, bitcoin and through multiple gateways for payment. Few people want to spend time filling in forms to make a credit card donation. It is important you are able to move quickly in this area – so regular market scanning and having an approved technology roadmap is important. You might want to consider measuring how quickly you can set up a new payment provider internally.

You may also want to consider the interplay of donation mechanism and channel. SMS donations could be generated experientially – in a retail shop, online, as part of a sponsorship of a friend, on the street through face-to-face fundraisers. Again – mapping all these potential journeys will ensure you can provide an optimised experience for the supporter.

In such a rapidly changing payment landscape, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about which methods to enable or 'bet on'. The answer is to test and research. Ask your supporters what payments they would like to be able to use, test a new payment route against more established methods and ask around to gather data and results from others who may have already tested certain combinations.

What then is the future for online donation payments? A scan of the external environment shows payment methods such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayM and Android Pay leading the way in contactless and card free online payments and social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are hosting these payment sites through an in app ‘shop now’ function.

As of 8 March 2017 Apple Pay made it easier in the UK, and more secure, to donate to charities from an iPhone iPad or Mac. So far this includes charities such as ActionAid UK, Alzheimer's Society, Barnardo’s, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Comic Relief, Unicef UK, Oxfam and WaterAid. Apple Pay say they want to make it easy and secure for supporters to make private payments, right at the moment they feel inspired to donate.

Click on the image below to see Project 11c in full - PDF format

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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