What do you think of this three-part web­site donate button?

Written by
March 11, 2014

Three buttons, or one? Or two, four or more?

How should we use website giving to engage donors?

We'd love to hear what you think. Please use the comments facility below to tell us.

Your comments

Does "make a difference" make a difference!?

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 01:27.

Given that SOFII is all about excellence in fundraising communications, I wonder whether the phrase "make a difference", which appears here and in (I would estimate) a substantial majority of fundraising asks, is diluted by constant repetition? Is it in danger of being so predictable, so apparently hackneyed, that it acts as a turn-off to potential donors? Perhaps it wouldn't matter if the difference made was always reported back to the donor, but we know that's not always the case... I admit I have never come up with a decent alternative despite, in the past, asking creative agencies to have a go!

making a difference? making a change?

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 22:37.

My immediate thought in reading anonymous' (anonymouses? anonymous's?) comment is to wonder if a better turn of phrase might be "But...will my gift change anything?". Make a difference doesn't really mean an awful lot. I would think people might respond to knowing that their donation changes things - for the better of course.

That's just a thought - I don't have any evidence to back that up...otherwise I like the approach. The closest comparison I can think of is Wikipedia..."if just (however many) of you donate just $5 our fundraiser will be out of work for ever" (or words to that effect).

Sean, Nottingham

Great contributions, useful debate

Submitted by Ken on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 01:40.

Thanks for these contributions to what I believe could be a most worthwhile debate.

Seems to me that donors can't possibly have too much emphasis on the difference they make. Mostly what fundraisers do is baldly ask, offering little or nothing in return. Sorry, I don't believe the phrase is used enough, far less over-used.

That's the point of SOFII's 'experiment' with the three-part button. Some weeks ago I checked a number of websites and all said either 'donate' or 'donate now'. That was it.

Even if it's not fully articulated I'm fairly sure that the one question all donors have in mind when contemplating or making a charitable gift is, 'Will my gift make a difference?' Few charities answer that question adequately either at the time of receiving the gift or subsequently. Even fewer answer it quickly enough (a major problem for our sector is how slow we are at getting back to donors. By the time they hear back from us, the emotion that prompted their gift has evaporated).

There's a huge prize in store for any fundraiser who answers this question quickly and well. By all means vary the language so as to avoid hackney-ising the phrase. But beware of our own subjectivity. 'I love you' is probably the most over-used phrase in the English language. Yet most people love to hear it and can't get enough of it.

I love Sean's suggestion of 'did my gift change anything?' If fundraisers can answer that, I'm sure donors will think it great and be reassured.

Perhaps this is just another instance of, 'it isn't what you say it's the way that you say it.' What it's all about is finding a better way of completing the 'need and reward' cycle that keeps donors giving. SOFII is planning an article on this in the near future. Anyone wishing to contribute to the debate is welcome to add their voice here. Please do. We'll all benefit.

Ken Burnett, for SOFII (but these opinions are, of course, my own). By the way, the addition of two new buttons hasn't yet resulted in a flood of donations, but we live in hope!

Three button phrases

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 19:50.

I would agreed with Ken that the phrase "making a difference" is always worth repeating. My concern is over the word "gift". Given that SOFII is a network of engaged fundraisers, I am not sure that "gift" is the right way to define the relationship between donor and recient. I am wondering whether "But... will my support make a difference?" would be better - or even "But... can I make difference?". After all, if long term financial support is going to be built on a strong relationship between donor and recipient, it is their engagement that they must feel is important, with their money an expression of that? - Philip, London

Thanks for the inspiration.

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 20:52.

You gave donors explanation why you need the gifts, what their gift means to you and also you gave them feeling that they are important for you - basically thanks. Please let us know how it works. Zuzana.

Donor Engagement

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 21:56.

I think Philip has a really great point. That is, after all, the reason for the three buttons - to increase donor engagement and deepen the relationship. We all try to inform our potential donors about how their support helps and I think putting that information right there on the button is "right on the button". Sorry for the bad pun, but I could not resist!

I love the 3-button ask.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 04:43.

It seems to me to drive donations. In fact, I'm going to make one myself right now.

Lot o' Copy

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 07:46.

I'm afraid my immediate response when I clicked on the link to the 3-part buttons in my SOFII email was "tl;dnr"

I like to pair my "donate now" button with a one-sentence phrase that begins "Your gift will..." or "Your gift helps..." or something that in 2 seconds concretely re-affirms the value of the donor's support. "Your gift today helps SOFII empower dedicated people like you to raise funds for some of the world's most important causes." Put that right next to the button, and you can provide a click-through link if anybody really needs more detail but I can't see most people reading it.

I've given, I feel FANTASTIC! But...

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 21:56.

But now let me remind you of a basic rule of fundraising copy which SOFII, of ALL organisations should not be ignoring. Stop telling me up front what SOFII is - small, world-wide, huge ambition - and start telling me what it ACHIEVES. And what it achieves is NOT 11,000 registrations and 200 countries and it's NOT empowering people (that bloody word should be BANNED from our lexicon).

It's about 'inspiration, knowledge and confidence to help many more' You say it, you've got it there but you've buried this VITAL proposition half way down the second paragraph, long after I would have stopped reading if I didn't love you as much as I do. SOFII itself is not what I'm supporting, I'm paying for the outcomes that I passionately want to make happen round the world. That's a basic fundraising principle. PLEASE don't ignore it!!

Though I'll still love you!
By Stephen Pidgeon

What's in it for me, then?

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 01/15/2013 - 23:05.

I feel the third button reminds me that basically I'm a selfish person (and you think so, too) - and that doesn't motivate me to give. I want to feel altruistic and good that I've done this great thing (or, at this point on the website, that I'm pondering it). I don't think pointing out to a potential donor that you think they'll only give if there's something "in it" for them is the best way to build a relationship. But, I understand the "feel great" - that's a different story and a much better one.

Selfish v. Self interest

Submitted by Ken on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:17.

Not sure I'd agree that selfish and self interest are the same thing. We're trying to appeal to self-interest, to show that giving isn't a one way street and donors can benefit from the transaction too. That way, it's win/ win. Donors may not consciously consider 'what's in it for me' but unconsciously at least they look for some benefits even if it's just a warm glow. If there is some benefit (ie self interest) for them, hopefully they'll continue.

Have as many buttons as you like but make sure they work!

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 01/15/2013 - 23:47.

Funnily enough, this discussion itself prompted me to make a donation to SOFII - I was going to say something must be working, but apparently not. Clicking all three buttons produces the same result "Page Not Found -The page you requested could not be found" on https://sofii.org/donate

When you get the buttons working again, I suggest you test alternating them.

I agree with Stephen - bring up the real proposition.

Thanks for pointing this out

Submitted by Ken on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 19:09.

Touché, and ouch! There seems to be a problem between us and our donations handling supplier, The Big Give. We're on to it, and will try to sort it asap. Please try again later, as SOFII needs all the help it can get. Ken

Link to donation page now working

Submitted by Carolina on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 21:24.

The correct link is back online and ready for your love. Apologies for the inconvenience and thank you for understanding.

Carolina - SOFII project manager.

Donate Buttons

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 01/22/2013 - 23:33.

I think the buttons are a good way to keep people on the web page-I went through them and passed the info on to our website lead-one suggestion I would have for the middle button is "click here to see how you're gift WILL make a difference."

Stock Phrases or Winning Words

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/23/2013 - 04:24.

Being a writer I love language, love words, love trying to be original. But when it comes to fundraising copy, what some fundraisers see as "stock" phrases or meaningless words, because they get repeated so often - such as: "make a difference" or "gift" - are not seen this way by the most important people in the loop, i.e. your donors. Your donors look at terms like these with relief, because they are plain English, say what they mean, and don't try to be clever for the sake of it. Trying to be different is nowhere near as important as simply being understood.

SOFII has been around for quite a while now, and the web is full of seriously good fundraising copywriters handing out advice for free. The most important lesson to fundraisers that one sees repeated with regularity is this: stop looking at the words through the prism of your personal preference and start looking at them through the eyes of your donor. And yet amazingly, so many fundraisers continue to do the former.

Deep sigh.

On a final note, I saw that someone didn't like the "What's in it for me button". Well, I think it's great. SOFII is not trying to feed starving people or end homelessness, they're trying to fund a repository of brilliant fundraising advice, ideas and information. That's precisely why I became a SOFII supporter. Because I want to continue getting access to this brilliance. I didn't give to SOFII because I empathize with the plight of previously printed, posted and now ignored direct mail, I gave BECAUSE of "what's in it for me". Well done SOFII for recognizing this and speaking to your supporters in terms we understand.

Of course, the biggest question is: is the Three Button Approach working? Have donations increased? If so, there's no debate. The donor has spoken.

Hopefully then fundraisers reading about this can try to reinterpret SOFII's version, but NOT through the prism of their own personal mores, preferences and peccadilloes . . . but through the eyes of those who matter most - their donors.

Jules Brown

Small donation button still not working

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 01/23/2013 - 20:50.

The smaller donate button in the top right hand corner just reloads the page.

In the donors words...

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 20:29.

Great comments!

I came across a button today that I thought adds a lot of credibility...as it is written in the donor's words, rather than the charity.
I don't know whether others agree...

Why I donate...

Fergal Byrne

three buttons will clearly explain the purpose

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 09/10/2013 - 19:55.

I support SOFII's three-part website donate buttons. Using these three buttons will clearly explain the purpose of why the people need to donate the money to SOFII. There is no need for a further clarification! Yes, I think gift is the right word.

Donate page

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 11/16/2013 - 19:56.

Quick comments:

1) I thought the three boxes at the top were buttons, so found that confusing as they don't work
2) Would be tempted to look at layout / colours so that function is easier to work out - if that's possible
3) I struggled with the font size and it impeded engagement for me (think it's larger on other pages)
4) I'd be tempted to try a copy test, focusing on the third (What's in it for me) button, and perhaps the second too. I found the "me" 'selfish' language a little dissonant as a warm donor. [I felt a little offended actually as it suggested my preoccupation is me rather than my achievement in giving. While perhaps I might tick that way, I don't want the writer assuming it!] So perhaps "you" language may work better. Or more indirect language that communicates exactly the same thing in terms of outcome.

Very possibly because of the explanation about the page and the engagement opportunity, harmony was maintained for me and I'm about to make another donation. Interesting to be in the donor's shoes and it reminds me that a general donate page has the tricky task of speaking to both existing and new donors.

Thanks for sharing results so far!

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