Tailor your communications, says digital agency Shout

Its report analyses a number of charity websites and the donor communication experience

Charities should do more to tailor communications to the intended recipients and be more personal in how they interact with donors online, according to a report from the digital customer experience agency Shout.

The report says the research was carried out to better understand the digital donor experience and is based on the researchers’ experiences after making donations to each of the top 25 charities based on voluntary income.

This included analysing the charities’ websites and the donors’ experiences from start to finish, including the welcomes and communications afterwards.

One of the biggest recommendations in the report, What Makes a Good Digital Experience for Charities, is that organisations should make contact with donors warmer and more personal, rather than like a confirmation of payment.

The report highlights this as a weakness among some of the charities to which it donated.

"Charities should believe that every single donor matters and that a donation is more than a simple transaction," the report says. "It’s an act of appreciation for the charity’s work and values, an act of philanthropy that deserves to be thanked with warmest regards.

"Emails, in general, can easily be overlooked or discarded, so the first impression of that initial email, the first one to appear in the donor’s inbox, is crucial in the creation of a fruitful relationship. Maintaining it requires authentic communication that resonates with the donor’s values in the first place."

The report suggests that improved formatting of automated emails and modified terminology to differentiate donations from other online transactions could help to address the issue.

It also recommends simplifying the donation process, with fewer steps required to complete an online donation.

Other recommendations in the report include having the option to share activity on social media, which was not present in all the charities included in the research, and for more charities to follow the lead of Save the Children by accepting digital currency Bitcoin in partnership with the BitGive Foundation.

The use of virtual reality and "more personalisation and digital communication and activities" for younger people could also build stronger relationships between charities and a younger, more digitally-savvy generation, the report says.

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