Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Survey Results: Donate? – Part II

Yesterday I wrote about how people make donations to various charitable or arts organizations. Today, it’s all about the online donation process.  Don’t know how that donation process should work?  Here are two great examples that I tried when I couldn’t originally donate to the CSO.

In the span of five minutes, I made two quick $5 donations.  Not much, I know, but it let me go through the motions and every little bit helps.

First up is a local ensemble: ProMusica Chamber Orchestra – probably the best example I can come up with.  All other orchestras, take note.

From the front page, I found the Donate Now button. Click.

Form appears (Still on ProMusica website).  I filled out my name, address, Email, phone #, amount I wanted to donate, credit card info and clicked the submit button. Promusica Boom!  Next page was my donation receipt.  3 pages. Done.

Next up: Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.  (Or as I like to call it, CSO-TN since my symphony is CSO-OH.)

Back in May, the CSO-TN had a couple extra clicks before getting to the form page, but those have since been removed making the process even easier.

Now from the front page, Support the CSO.  Click.  Donation form appears. On this form, I filled out all my info and clicked the submit button.

Boom!  Next page was my donation receipt – still on the Chattanooga website.  Done.

What was 6 pages in May is now only 3 as of July 3. Well done, CSO-TN! CSO-TN front page I received Email confirmations from both and an additional personal Email from CSO-TN thanking me for my generous, albeit $5, donation.

Originally 10 but now 6 total screens – less than five minutes’ time – two donations.  And neither one was the one I originally meant to support that evening.

Not every orchestra is going to get it perfectly right the first try.  It takes practice, for sure, but it’s worth figuring out and I think ProMusica and Chattanooga have indeed done so. It’s something to strive for, don’t you think?

I will overcome

To research yesterday’s blog post I created a new Email address to replace the one that’s blocked.  That way, I could go through those steps (done on Monday, July 1 and again this morning) with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and believe it or not, that process relayed in my story yesterday about the hypothetical first-time concert-goer was both real and, an improvement.

As of May, the only way to set up an account was to call CAPA (essentially the CSO’s parent organization that takes care of a lot of administrative functions).  Can you imagine having to make a phone call in order set up an online account before being able to make an online donation? If it’s after hours on Friday, you’re out of luck until Monday, by which time you’ll have forgotten you even wanted to donate in the first place.

On a happy note, as of June, this initial call is no longer needed (unless your password is blocked) so the CSO is going in the right direction. Yea! I’m also guessing the account is a Ticketmaster and not a CAPA / CSO requirement.  Somebody’s giving you money. Keep it simple and send them straight to a donation page A-S-A-P! Get that money! Roadblocks serve no purpose here.

Ticketmaster and nonprofit organizations do not good bedfellows make

Confession: I’m not a fan of Ticketmaster – great for rock concerts, not so much for non-profits. 

I was flabbergasted at the amount of effort it took me to get where I could finally enter my credit card info. A CSO-OH musician and I both originally tried it and gave up.  We are not fair weather fans! If we give up along the way; you know other potential donors will as well.  And they probably have.  The only reason I went back was because of this blog post and it still took me a few tries.

Here’s a link to the step-by-step process (work instructions, rather) of donating to the CSO.  Does it work?  Technically, yeah.  It does. You just have to be insanely persistent and not everyone is a crazy blogger like I am.  There are roughly 19 steps / screens including 3 to set up a new account.  If you’re timed out, there are another 3 screens and then you’re sent back to Step 6 to revisit steps 6-19.  If you want to change your donation amount, you have to go back to Steps 6 – 19.

As you see below, it can be done. CSO Donation Receipt Why so complicated?

No idea. I, the donor, basically create the form as I go along. I click on the link that gets me to a Donate Now page. Then I click on the organization I want to support. Then I click on that organization again to make a donation amount box appear. Then I type in my donation amount. Then I click on something to make my donation amount appear in a box to the left. Then I click something to add my donation amount to my cart. Then I click on a button to confirm what’s in my cart. Then… Wait.  Are you exhausted, too? This whole process is counterintuitive. As a donor, I should be making a donation, not a web page. You should have already set up a quick and easy online form and speaking from experience in setting up quick and easy online forms, it’s pretty easy.  And quick.

I once walked away out of frustration and when I returned, I’d been timed out. Yes – timed out while attempting to make a donation. (Those screen shots are included, too) I had to start over.  Ticketmaster kicks out potential donors. What about potential season ticket buyers?  What if someone has to walk upstairs to get their wallet or check on their children?  Hurry up, folks! You’ve got exactly 10 minutes! Do not pass go! Do not collect $200!

Crazy bloggers aside, name a person who is willing to go through all that. You should be done in no more than five screens – counting your confirmation screen.  How many people are willing to start all over again after stepping away to check on dinner?  Stones or U2 are in town?  Sure.  Time me out if I’m not fast enough.  Those would sell out in a few minutes anyway.  But a symphony concert with multiple performances?  Not so likely.  Making a donation?  Definitely not likely.

I’m sorry, but if an organization relies on the generosity of donors for the vast majority of its operating budget, it cannot make it so unbelievably difficult and convoluted a process for those donors to actually donate.

And it sure as heck shouldn’t kick out the ones who try.

Fundraising is hard

In an age of 24/7 news cycles and instant gratification information searches, people’s attention spans are not what they used to be and they sure aren’t meant to endure a double-digit number of screens for anything, much less giving away their money. (…or really long blog posts, for that matter.  Thanks, by the way! 😉 )

I’ve spent about 10 years working with 501 (c)3 charitable non-profits.  One thing I’ve learned is that raising money is really hard.  If you want people to just randomly give you their hard-earned cash, you’ve got to make it easy on them.  Not doing so is like shooting yourself in the foot.  Not doing so makes fundraising near impossible.

Part III tomorrow – some ideas! 🙂

 – – This is part II of III.  – Part I – Part II – Part III

5 thoughts on “Survey Results: Donate? – Part II

  1. Pingback: Survey Results: Donate? Or Not? – Part I | Giocosity

  2. And this is supposedly AFTER the CSO’s new, completely revamped website…ridiculous!

    • The website is actually better since the old was in need of of work. The general look, the musician bios (very nice!), the updated conductor info, it’s an improvement. From May to now, the addition of a Donate button off the front page and the ability to set up an account yourself improve the the donation process, but as you can see by my donation work instructions attached above, there’s still a lot of work to do.

  3. I love supporting orchestras in central Ohio, but the CSO online system drives me away. There are a few other orchestras around town that also have poor online donation experiences, but one gem is the Central Ohio Symphony in Delaware. Three clicks and you’re done.

    • Nice – thanks for telling me about that one. I agree with you! People can change their minds so quickly about donating if the process is too long. Best to make it quick and easy so that opportunity isn’t lost.

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