Online transactions between a donor and a charity are different than online transactions between a buyer and a retailer. Unfortunately, many nonprofits forget this fact, and treat their donors not as partners in a common mission, but rather as “consumers” buying their “product.”

Businessman working on the laptop.

Having an online presence can encourage this sort of thinking within the nonprofit development department: “People like the convenience of buying clothes online, why wouldn’t they enjoy the convenience of giving to a charity online?”

While people do enjoy convenience, especially when it comes to searching and buying items online, giving to a charity is not the same type of transaction as buying shoes on eBay or Amazon. Online giving needs to be more human and much more personal than an online mechanical purchasing transaction. For this reason, the nonprofit must reach people online differently than for-profits. They can’t simply emulate what works in the for-profit world.

For instance, there are still people that prefer to mail a check rather than use a credit card online. This means that even a simple thing, like a missing postal address at the website, will turn away a potential giver.

Another annoying practice to most people is when the charity requests gift before actually sending a receipt or thank you letter. Sending the donor a “thank-you” before asking for more will create a human aspect to the process by letting the donor know you value her support and will ultimately encourage additional giving.

The key to online giving is to make it a personable affair. Your supporters give to you because they believe in your mission and they are more deeply connected to your values than to an online retailer. Treat them with respect and gratitude and not like another transaction.

See npengage for more.