Online donation methods and the path of least resistance

The best things in life are easy


In 2015, we only want to do things that are easy. Whether it’s finding sporks on the internet (Google), recording TV shows (series links on TiVo), or paying for your shopping in M&S (Contactless), the path of least resistance always wins.

Now it’s the same for your donors, and unless you makes it as easy as possible for them to donate, your charity could miss out on thousands of vital funding.

Donating is getting easier too

cancer_researchWe’re moving away from debit and credit cards as donation methods. Comic Relief recently allowed shoppers to donate to this year’s appeal on larger than life statues of famous comedians, just by touching your card on their pockets.

This follows Cancer Research UK piloting accepting contactless payments as donations from passers by at four of their shops – just touch your Contactless card on the shop window to make a £2 donation. What could be simpler?

Accepting PayPal as a donation method

Thanks to eBay, PayPal has been the easiest way to pay for things online for over a decade – and that includes donations.

Face it, what would you rather do:

  1. Search your pockets for a debit card, type out the 16 digits, crane to see the tiny expiry date, flip it over and entering the last three digits of your security code, then remember the third and fifth digits of your security password (was it my first pet or favourite character from The Wire?).
  2. Enter your PayPal password and click ‘Donate’

If you went for option 2, so will most of your donors. And if PayPal isn’t available, they might not bother and head off to look at videos of cute dogs on YouTube (check the bounce rate on your donate page in Google Analytics for proof). 

DEC raise millions with PayPal

Screenshot 2015-02-23 at 05.08.23

The Disasters Emergency Committee have known the value of making donating easy for years, and are pioneers of accepting paypal. They have PayPal’s Express Checkout, including Mobile Express Checkout.

So no matter what device you view their homepage on, you get a page with PayPal as the preferred donation method, which remember only needs a password to complete. Making it easier to donate works too – within the first 13 days of the DEC Philippines Typhoon Campaign in 2013, PayPal processed £5.8 million in donations.

And look how obvious they make the fact that they accept PayPal – they’re shouting from the rooftops about how easy it is to donate to them.

What your charity should do

First off, accept PayPal as a donation method on your website. It’s easy, it’s quick and thanks to PayPal, most of your donors already have an account.

Second, if you have a JustGiving account, try adding a Donate with JustGiving button to your website to see how many people use it (they can even donate by monthly Direct Debit this way)

If your charity has shops or runs events, ask your acquirer about accept contactless donations. Not as cheap or easy as accepting PayPal, but that’s the direction donations are going now.

And no matter how you take donations online, make the money by making it easy.


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2 Responses to “Online donation methods and the path of least resistance”

  1. Ollie D 03/04/2015 at 1:38 pm #

    I’ve been a big fan of Paypal for a while – and we currently use it on our (soon to be update) charity site. However my development team have a few worries – mainly around giftaid (paypal doesnt seem to be able to do capture this – so i assume we’d need some pre-form to fill in beforehand) and they worry about losing out on other data capture (who donors are, for future contact (again, I assume to get around this, we’d need to create a pre form, with a different database).

    Any thoughts, ideas or recommendations? Thanks.

    • CharityChap 03/05/2015 at 10:32 am #

      Pre-form is probably the way around it all right. I’d say do some testing on lifetime value to see if you would get more one off donations by accepting PayPal than regular donations by using something else that gives you the contact data. A strong long term funnel that one off users go into is also needed first – easier said than done!

      Contact DEC on the PayPal issue, they’re pretty open about that kind of thing I believe.

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