How to build the perfect donation page

Start strong

Most donation pages usually start with a hero section as this is the first thing your users will see. It is important to present strong and impactful content that will connect with the user and elicit an emotional reaction. The hero will often consist of three key elements: the image, the headline and the call to action. 

  1. Image – This should be emotive and impactful. Ideally it should focus on a particular subject and be presented clearly in a high resolution. For some campaigns, it may be more effective to use a video instead of an image – but this can impact page load speed. 
  2. Headline – This should be clear and concise. It should let the user know the purpose of the campaign and how they can support, e.g. “Support Women and Girls Impacted by the War in Ukraine”.
  3. Call to action – This should be succinct and direct. It should let the user know what you want them to do e.g. ‘Donate Now’.  

It is also important to ensure that this section reflects the assets presented to the user before landing on the donation page e.g. when clicking a Facebook ad. This consistency assures the user that they have reached their intended destination and gives confidence to proceed with the process. 

UNFPA donation page
Start strong: UNFPA Ukraine donation page

Tell your story

As with the hero section, the main content should be designed to inform and connect with the user. It should tell them what the problem is, how the organisation is working to solve the problem, and how their support will help. 

  1. What’s the problem? –  Be clear on what the issue is and build in as much emotion as possible. Include a case study and images if possible. 
  2. How is the organisation helping? – What are the things the organisation is doing to try to address the issue? Use clear bullet points, be as specific as possible, and ideally include concrete examples with costs (ie ‘We are providing emergency care for expectant mothers in crisis affected areas. It costs $100 to provide emergency care to one pregnant woman’).
  3. How can you help? – If the above has helped the user to connect with the issue you now need to provide them with ways to help. Explain what their donation will help achieve and again include tangible examples where possible.
UNICEF USA donation page
Tell your story: UNICEF USA Ukraine donation page

Form placement

The main purpose of your donation page is to convert users into donors. To do this they will need to make a payment via the donation form. Where this is placed on the page can have a significant impact on your conversion rate. 

Placement of the donation form is often found embedded in the donation page itself or a separate page that is linked to via a ‘Donate’ button. Whilst the separate page can help to keep the donation page clearer it adds another step to the user’s journey and can add extra time needed to load the pages. 

Keeping the user on the donation page allows them to take in all the information around it that can help inform their decision to donate. The key is to provide multiple entry points to the donation form. If the form is embedded in the hero section, provide links to scroll back to it further down the page. If the form is displayed as a modal window (popup) over the donation page, ensure there is a way for users to get back to it if they exit the process. 

Amnesty International donation page
Form placement: Amnesty International human rights donation page

Answer questions

Even if a user believes in a cause and wants to donate, there may be other factors that can impact their decision making process. Try to get ahead of this by including answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). These can include:

  • How is my donation used?
  • How is my donation secure?
  • How is my data used?
  • Is the donation tax-deductible?
  • Can I cancel my monthly donation?

As an organisation, you will never want your users to cancel their monthly donation but if they know in advance how they can do that, it helps them to feel in control of their donation and the process as a whole. 

Other common questions such as how secure the payment is or how personal information is used can be massive issues if they do not match the user’s expectations so letting them know this up front can help to alleviate any fears. 

You won’t be able to answer every question with a FAQs section so providing ways for a potential donor to contact the organisation to ask specific questions also helps them to feel comfortable with the process.

UNFPA frequently asked questions
Answer questions: UNFPA frequently asked questions

Be transparent

Finally, it is important to provide transparency with users by sharing key information such as breakdowns of how donations are used. 

If a user is giving their money to a non-profit organisation they want to know it will go towards those that need it most. It is accepted that some will need to go to administration costs but sharing this information is a better policy than hiding it. 

Providing this data alongside graphs or charts helps to build trust in the organisation for the user and remove any potential hurdles to completing their donation. 

Concern Worldwide financial breakdown
Be transparent: Concern Worldwide financial breakdown

Final thoughts

There are many aspects that go into a successful donation page. We would always advise that, as well the five points listed, pages also follow usability best practices, accessibility standards and performance metrics. Ensuring your donation page includes all these elements will ensure that you maximise conversions.

At THINK Digital, we are able to help support and implement donation pages and donation campaigns. We can also conduct UX reviews on existing donation pages to highlight areas for improvement. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

How Fundraise Up can drive new monthly donations

It’s no secret that here at THINK Digital we are big fans of the digital fundraising platform Fundraise Up and have even written previously about five things we like about the platform

Having used Fundraise Up for multiple international clients over the past year, one of our favourite aspects of the platform is the the way it is optimised to turn more supporters into recurring donors.

Encouraging monthly donations

User selecting monthly donation option and small heart icon animating from it before fading
User selecting monthly donation option and small heart icon animating from it before fading

Clients are able to customise the interface to prioritise one-time or monthly donation options, By default, Fundraise Up highlights the importance of giving monthly, using a heart icon that animates when the user clicks the monthly option.

It is a small detail but one that adds a playful interaction to the process and encourages the user to select the monthly option.

Multiple Payment Methods

User selecting payment method for monthly donation
User selecting payment method for monthly donation

Once the user has selected a monthly donation amount, they are able to complete payment in a number of ways that support regular giving. 

Standardised methods such as Credit/debit cards are included alongside third party options such as Paypal, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Depending on the donor location, there is also the option to donate via BACS (UK Direct Debit) or ACH (US Direct Debit) and other localised methods. 

Allowing the user multiple ways to give monthly ensures they feel in control of the process and provides freedom to the choices they make.

Convert to a monthly donation

User presented with option to become a monthly donor and convert one-time donation to monthly
User presented with option to become a monthly donor and convert one-time donation to monthly

Even if the donor only wants to make a one-time donation, Fundraise Up might convince them to become a monthly supporter instead as they go through the donation process. 

After selecting a one-time amount, the donation process presents the user with the option to convert to a monthly donation, suggesting an amount based on their one-time gift and explaining how an ongoing monthly donation can support the organisation in their mission. 

This is also repeated at the end of the one-time process where you can convert to regular giving, post-donation. 

Final thoughts

The tools provided by Fundraise Up help to ensure an easy process for users to become monthly donors. Using these alongside a long-term regular giving strategy can help drive new monthly donors, convert one-time donations and provide recurring support for the organisation and their mission. 

Read more about Regular giving on Fundraise Up.

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At THINK Digital, we work directly with clients to provide long-term recurring giving strategies and improve their online digital fundraising. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

Six months on, how Facebook’s new targeting restriction’s are working.

Earlier this year, we outlined how Facebook’s new targeting restrictions could affect the ability to find customers in Ads Manager. Six months on, how are the new restrictions working, and how can advertisers now find their audience?

What targeting has been removed?

In midwinter 2022, Facebook removed the ability to target users by anything that could be interpreted as sensitive, including:

  • Religion
  • Health
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Political affiliation
  • Sexual orientation

This has made targeting users during religious festivals, or for political and social campaigns, much trickier than it used to be.

What options are available?

Broad targeting, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences are still available, although the last two rely on having a good database of customers ready to upload to Audiences.

Facebook has also introduced Advantage Lookalike, where adverts may be shown to more people than the standard 1-10% threshold if it is likely to improve performance.

How can advertisers target users?

Here are some of the techniques we’ve been using to replace interest targeting: 

Location targeting

target by location to try to narrow down your audience. If your adverts are aimed primarily at Catholics, for instance, target locations where Catholics make up a good proportion of the population. A quick Google search can provide this information. Similarly, if you are running ads for Pride month, it makes sense to target cities hosting Pride events, particularly around the time that those events are running.

Icons and popular entertainment

While many targeting options have been removed, celebrities, artists and entertainment choices remain in place. If you can find a way to use broad brush strokes then you can identify an audience by its affiliations. The films of John Waters, or Arabic Pop Music, or the satire of Jon Stewart – all are more likely to be enjoyed by sections of the population you are otherwise unable to target.

Combination targeting

While specific targeting may be off the table – women’s rights, for instance, or feminism – you can use combination targeting to get as close to the interest as possible. Let’s say you wanted to run pro-choice adverts. Targeting users interested in Planned Parenthood or Women’s Health is no longer possible. But if you target women in Democrat-leaning states, or in locations where abortion is set to stay available, and then combine that with an interest in human rights, pregnancy and feminist icons like Simone de Beauvoir, then you might get close to targeting exactly who you want.

There is no doubt that Facebook’s new targeting restrictions have made it harder to specify an audience, particularly if you are running a religious, political or social campaign. Facebook is always refreshing the way it works, although these changes look set to stay. However, with a bit of creativity or a good customer database, it is still possible to find an audience who will engage with your campaign.

How can we mitigate against the phase out of cookies and changes to iOS?

What is the issue? 

Earlier this year, Google announced that Chrome would no longer support third-party cookies from the start of 2024, and Apple has released the option for users to block identifiers for advertisers by default in iOS14. These issues are already having an impact on tracking and will lower return on advertising spend (ROAS) for non-profit organisations which are fundraising through digital channels once cookies disappear if mitigations aren’t put in place now.

This increases the need for organisations to maximise the way they store and tag CRM data to build as full a picture of current donors as possible to give the organisation more chance to be able to find people like them to recruit in the future. 

What are the possible mitigations currently in play? 

Technically, even if third party cookies are being removed, all major ad networks still use first party cookies – providing safer and more compliant visitor tracking. The knowledge of advertising audiences or visitors is not lost. In some cases, it can even be improved thanks to smarter AI resolution. In addition, the digital advertising industry is trying to minimise the impacts as it’s in our interests.

Solutions like Unified ID 2.0 attempt to replace third party cookies with an alternative identifier that’s tied to hashed and encrypted email addresses. This may or may not work, but many other solutions are vying for pole position currently. However, non-profit organisations aren’t in control of this, so it makes sense to proactively mitigate risks in case all of these proposed solutions fail. 

What can your organisation do? 

  • Build the current donor base as much as is possible, perhaps accepting a lower ROAS. 
  • Focus on regular givers will also help build a stronger, more resilient programme. 
  • The issue of tracking, due to Apple’s changes, is less of a fundamental problem as cookie switch off, as you still get the donations, you just can’t track them in Facebook. However, this has and will impact ROAS as it is no longer as easy to scale spend with incomplete data in Facebook Business Manager. The mitigation here is to learn what ROAS within Facebook means a good ROAS overall and build your own logic and tools to manage the scaling issue. 
  • Maximise the data you collect and store this in your CRM in a way that is actionable in improving your marketing efforts. This means developing your unique playbook for improving data capture, integration, analytics, and insights for targeting and offer personalization for conversion. 
  • Use techniques such as social listening to get a deeper understanding of what the sorts of people who are likely to support you are talking about and how you can make your messaging more relevant to where they are at that specific moment and what sorts of language they use.
  • Start to use AI, which has a crucial role to play at the point of transaction using factors such as time of day, location of visitor and any other information we are allowed to factor in to build logic in the giving experience to maximise revenue without the need for cookies.

Facebook’s new targeting restrictions: what does it mean for advertisers?

In Autumn 2021, Facebook announced significant changes to the way advertisers can target prospective customers in Ads Manager. These changes came into effect in mid-January 2022, and have reduced the possibilities for advertisers looking to expand their current audience.

So what are the changes, how are advertisers affected and what are the options for future targeting?

What will be affected?

Facebook has clamped down on any targeting that could be interpreted as sensitive. Topics viewed as such include:

  • Religion
  • Health
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Political affiliation
  • Sexual orientation

This doesn’t just apply to specific interest targeting, but also any events, figures or organisations relating to that topic.

For instance, if you wanted to target Catholics, prior to 19th January Catholic Church was available as a targeting interest. Now, not only is that keyword unavailable, but so too is Pope Francis, The Bible and Baptism.

Feminism, as another example, is also off the table, along with associated terms such as Women’s Rights, Hilary Clinton and Planned Parenthood.

What targeting remains available?

This is clearly a big hit for organisations hoping to target people with quite specific – albeit supposedly sensitive – interests. So what is left for advertisers to target?

  • Broad targeting remains in place. Advertisers can still find prospective customers by gender, age, language and location.
  • Custom Audiences, uploaded from an advertiser’s own data, or gathered from website or app traffic or engagement on Facebook, is unaffected.
  • Lookalike Audiences also remain available to use, as they are based on Custom Audiences.

What are the options for advertisers?

As things stand, here are the options for advertisers:

  1. Follow Facebook recommendations for existing audiences. If an advertiser already had an audience up and running as of 19th January, it will continue to run until 17th March. It may need to be updated with recommendations from Facebook, although it is now clear yet what those recommendations will be.
  2. Set up a broad targeting audience – by age, gender, location and language – and allow Facebook’s algorithms to do the rest. Again, it is not clear how Facebook will find the correct audience for broadly targeted ads, but it supposedly tracks the language used in the advert to allocate interests.
  3. Do as much analysis on your own Custom Audiences as possible. Sort your data by campaign, date, or any other information available to make your Custom Audiences as specific as they can be.
  4. Find some workarounds. A few years ago, Facebook removed the ability to target Muslims through specific keywords like Islam or Muslim. However, terms such as Ramadan and Eid were still available, allowing advertisers interested in a Muslim audience to target them reasonably well. Similarly, while Feminism and Women’s Rights are now excluded, lower-profile feminists like Simone de Beauvoir are still available.

Facebook are always updating and amending how Ads Manager works, so who knows how long the current restrictions will stay as they are. It may be that, if results suffer, advertisers are drawn away from Facebook, forcing a backtracking or alteration to this new regime. We’ll be monitoring the changes closely and seeing how they effect the targeting we do for fundraising campaigns, stay tuned for updates on this over the coming months.

Five things we like about Fundraise Up

Fundraise Up is a digital fundraising platform that is designed to use AI to empower non-profit organisations. Recently, we worked with UNFPA to help them migrate their campaigns and donation processes over to Fundraise Up – our first time using the platform. So based on that experience, here are five things we like about Fundraise Up (and a couple of things we think could be better). 

1. Checkout and Elements

Fundraise Up uses elements to offer a variety of tools to build your fundraising experience. These components are added to your page with just a simple line of code and can be easily customised to match the look and feel of your page. Elements include donation buttons and reminders, goal meters, image cards, top supporters, and peer-to-peer fundraising.

Example of Checkout Element
Image credit: Fundraise Up

Fundraise Up’s most important element is Checkout – an embeddable form that works within your site.  The component allows for an end-to-end donation process without the need to be redirected away to complete the donation. 

This can be customised with a multitude of options such as donation amounts, monthly options, donation up-sells, and confirmation emails to create an experience unique to your appeal. 

Read more about Elements and Checkout.

2. Payment Options

Fundraise Up offers a number of payment options to give donors flexibility in making a donation. The platform is an official partner of the payment gateway Stripe. This allows payments to be made using a variety of credit cards as well as services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Donors are also able to use PayPal and bank transfer.

Example of payment methods
Image credit: Fundraise Up

The platform allows for all worldwide currencies to be used alongside these payment methods and harnesses geolocation to serve the relevant currency, donation amounts and payment methods based on the donor’s location. 

Read more about Payment Options.

3. Machine Learning

Perhaps the most powerful feature of Fundraise Up is Machine learning. This uses an algorithm that analyses patterns in donor behaviour to determine the optimal donation amounts to use. This helps to ensure that the amounts don’t ask for too little (risk missing out on potential donations) or too much (risk losing the donation altogether).

Example of Machine Learning
Image credit: Fundraise Up

The algorithm can analyse donor behaviour through data points such as location, device or previous donor history. From there, it can be grouped based on common behavioural traits and donation amounts can then be personalised. It helps to create a truly unique experience for each user. 

Read more about Machine Learning.

4. Analytics and reporting

Fundraise Up also allows for data to be generated to give an overview of how campaigns are performing. These reports can be connected to third party analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook pixel with UTM tag support.

Example of Fundraise Up Data and Reporting
Image credit: Fundraise Up

Data can also be filtered and exported so it can be used with a reporting tool of your choice. These reports can be scheduled to export at regular intervals and templates can be set so the same options do not need to be configured every time. 

Read more about Data Tracking, Exports and Donation Management.

5. Security and Fraud Prevention

Perhaps the most important feature of all, Fundraise Up uses SSL and 256-bit encryption to securely handle donations without ever storing payment details. Personal data is also managed securely and the platform is regularly backed up to ensure nothing is lost. 

Fundraise Up also uses Stripe Radar alongside many other industry standards to ensure Fraud prevention. Analysing user behaviour, reviewing failed transactions and putting measures in place to combat hackers helps to make a secure process. 

Read more about Security and Fraud Prevention.

Other

There are many other things we like about Fundraise Up, including the design of the User Interface (UI). It is kept simple and helps to take the donor through every step of the donation process. It also offers peer-to-peer fundraising to super-charge your donation page and allow others to fundraise. 

Improvements

Fundraise Up is not without its faults though. From a performance perspective, it can cause pages to run slower due to the excessive javascript required to load the checkout process. It is also guilty of some accessibility issues such as using placeholders instead of labels for form fields or not displaying clear and useful error messages to provide context for the user.

Example of Lighthouse Performance Score
Image credit: Fundraise Up
Example of Accessibility Issues
Image credit: Fundraise Up

As the platform is designed to be flexible, it can sometimes cause limitations to be placed on areas such as content. This applies to the snippet of text alongside the donation form and the lack of descriptions for what a donation amount corresponds to. Finally, while content can be entered in different languages where editable, some elements are fixed to the process and so don’t work when translated. 

Final thoughts

Overall, Fundraise up is a really impressive fundraising platform that can easily be set up, is highly customisable, allows multiple payment gateways, harnesses machine learning, outputs useful data analytics, and provides industry leading security. It allows any non-profit website to quickly accept online donations without the need for extra development costs.

At THINK Digital, we work directly with clients to improve their online digital fundraising. We have recently worked with UNFPA to help them implement donation pages using Fundraise Up. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

Designing with accessibility in mind

To create more usable products we need to understand and care about user requirements that differ from or even conflict with our own. One of the most important aspects of this is designing for accessibility. This ensures our products work, not just for some, but for as many people as possible.

What is accessibility?

“Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.”

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

It can be simply defined as “the ability to access”, but more specifically it is about ensuring that people can perceive, understand, operate, and interact with the web. When we talk about accessibility, we are talking about encompassing all disabilities that affect access online. This includes auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual. 

When designing for accessibility, one concept is that of universal design. Where accessible design creates products that are usable by those with disabilities, universal design creates products for the widest possible audience, this includes, but isn’t limited to, people with a disability.

An example of this would be:

  1. Adding a button to your site to increase the font size (making it accessible).
  2. Making all the text bigger so more people are able to read it without needing to change the size (making it universal).

Who does accessibility impact?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) more than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability. This can range from everything from sight loss, hearing loss or dexterity issues to dyslexia, learning difficulties or colour blindness. 

Accessibility isn’t just about people with disabilities. It can impact everyone. 

We can all find ourselves in different circumstances that are situational or temporary that affect how we access the web. 

Permanent - One Arm
Temporary - Arm Injury
Situational - New Parent
Credit: Microsoft Design

Sometimes, non-disabled users will make use of accessibility features for convenience, without even realising it. For example, if you are on a train home and you have forgotten your headphones, you may watch a video on YouTube with captions on.

In this situation, your needs are the same as someone with an auditory disability.

Not all users may have a disability but they may use your website in the same way.  Accessibility helps to improve the experience for everyone. 

Why is accessibility important?

The main reason that accessibility is important is that it makes your website usable by as many people as possible. This not only helps maximise your target audience, but accessibility often improves overall usability. A positive user journey is good for the user and is more likely to lead to repeat visits. 

There is also the legal side to consider. Through the UK’s Equality Act 2010, disabled people have the right to access everyday goods and services (for example websites). To comply with this law, reasonable adjustments must be made to accommodate these users. There are similar laws in different countries around the world. 

Other benefits to accessibility include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Search Engines view websites similar to screen readers and poor accessibility standards can penalise a site from their rankings.  Accessibility can also benefit those on mobile devices or smaller screens as well as slower internet connections. 

How to improve accessibility?

There are many things that can be done to improve accessibility on your website, here are some of the most important that are quick and easy to implement:

Content and Language

Accessible content begins with well-structured copy. Clearly identifiable headings,  short sentences and paragraphs make it easier to skim content and retain information. Separating out content such as lists or quotes from the rest of the copy helps to break up the page. 

Language makes a huge difference to your content and striking the right tone with your users. Clear, simple and concise language makes for the most accessible text. Overusing technical jargon, acronyms, abbreviations or vague terms can be off-putting so try to avoid these where possible.

Example of how to implement content with headings of different sizing, spacing between and paragraphs broken into smaller chunks.

Contrast

When the text colour is too close to the background colour it will be hard to read. Ensure the contrast is strong enough to read clearly, you can use bold text to help with this. For text over images, use gradients or overlays to help. Whatever the contrast, it is important to use a font size that will be readable across the page, ideally 16px or above.

Example of contrast on two donation buttons, one that fails and one that passes AA tests.

Images and Video

Adding a text alternative for an image, which is used by screen readers or when an image doesn’t load, is essential. Make the text as descriptive as possible to help understand the context of the image. For video, make use of captions and subtitles for users to be able to clearly distinguish audio. Keep the captions short and don’t forget to include important audio cues. 

Example of alternative text, one with a poor alternative text and one with good alternative text that provides context tot he image.

Forms and error messages

Forms are the key elements on interactive sites but even the simplest form can be difficult for people with learning difficulties. Keep important information on the screen at all times to refer to when needed. Make use of icons to support colour on error messages to help draw attention to them quickly. Try to use human language like “Sorry, we couldn’t find the page you wanted” instead of “Error 404” as well.

Example of form design, one with no labels or icons for error message, and one that uses labels and icons for error messages.

These are just some of the things you can do to ensure your website is accessible to all users. There are many more that can be included such as keyboard functionality, reducing motion and avoiding/correcting mistakes through validation.

Who is responsible for accessibility?

“Accessibility is not the responsibility of one person. Everyone on your team is responsible for making your product accessible.”

Gov.uk

Everyone is responsible for accessibility at some level. It is a collective involvement throughout the whole organisation, from project managers to developers,  who all have different roles when it comes to accessibility. 

It is important to create a culture of accessibility and universal design so it is part of each project from the offset and not considered an afterthought or one person’s responsibility. 

At THINK Digital, we are able to review, test and implement accessibility standards on your digital user experience. Recent clients include UNFPA, UNICEF, Oxfam, and the Swedish Red Cross. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

The value of user testing

When it comes to the design process, one area that can often be overlooked is testing, especially with real users. Time and budget constraints can be a factor, but as user testing can add invaluable insight into how people interact with your site, it is too important to avoid.

What is user testing?

User testing is any form of testing that includes the user in the design process. One common example of this is usability testing where participants are asked to complete specific tasks while being observed. This allows you to see how real users interact with your site and identify ways to improve the experience.

Why is it important?

Every time you include the user in the design process, you are able to understand more about the people who use your products and the way they interact with them. Observing a user complete a specific task, such as making a donation, will help you to learn if they can complete it successfully and how long it takes to do. You discover how satisfied the user is with the experience and if anything can be done to improve it.

For example, when we recently carried out some user testing for a client, we were interested to learn that users wanted a more personal connection to the cause. They wanted to see the impact a donation was making to those in need before donating themselves. It helped us to understand the ‘why’ behind the user’s decision making process and we were able to add relevant information to the page.

These learnings help you to shape the products you build and ensure they put usability at the forefront. By creating a positive user experience, you can help to improve engagement and conversions on your sites.

When should you do it?

Testing in any form should be included throughout the design process, but during the early stages it can help identify issues that would be expensive to fix later on. There is also value in testing during the final build stage as it can help to identify issues that might have been hard to replicate earlier on in the project.

Of course there is no bad time to run user testing. During a recent project, multiple changes were made to the point where the user experience no longer matched our original intentions. We went back to the drawing board and designed a new version that incorporated the updated requirements and put this through a round of usability testing. This helped us to iterate the process and release a version that offered a better user experience than the original concept.

How do I get started?

The best time to start is now. Any insight into how your users interact with your product will lead to a better user experience. As Christopher Murphy says in his post “A Comprehensive Guide To User Testing”:

“It’s far better to run some usability testing using what you have to hand than to run no usability testing at all.”

Christopher Murphy

At THINK Digital, we are able to help support and implement user testing strategies to gain key insights in your digital user experience. Recent clients include UNFPA, UNICEF, Oxfam, and OCHA. If you would like to know more, please contact us.

Is Coronavirus stealing everyone’s attention?

With the Covid-19 crisis escalating worldwide, we thought it would be interesting to see whether the intense focus on this particular pandemic is affecting the attention that other global issues receive. What impact has it had on other charities, especially those that work in non health-related fields? Have people stopped talking about climate change, poverty and famine? Does anyone even remember the pre-Christmas wildfires in Australia, which seemed to be the only thing people were talking about online for weeks?

We plugged a host of keywords into a social listening tool to see what we could find out. Some interesting things emerged – some expected, some less so.

Coronavirus is the hot topic, but for how long?

Unsurprisingly, online chat about coronavirus has shot up since the end of February. At its peak, over 12-13 March, there were around 35 million mentions of it online. However, there has been a dip in the couple of days since. Will we get to a stage where people are bored of talking about it? All jokes will have been rinsed, all pictures of empty supermarket shelves and disinformation about people with coronavirus not being able to see the moon shared to the point of inanity.

Compare this to the 2019-20 wildfires in Australia, which killed 34 humans and an estimated one billion animals. The online chat hit a first peak in late August, with over two million mentions per day, and then a second peak in December with 1.5 million. In the last two months it has stayed steady at half a million mentions a day.

This has not had much impact on other disaster topics

More surprisingly, the new focus on coronavirus has not coincided with much of a dip in discussions about other global issues. People are still talking about climate change, refugees, poverty, and cancer. Mentions of these issues have only dipped by 2% since the end of February compared to the four months prior.

This has had an impact on large charities

While people are still talking about global issues more broadly, they are talking less about the large charities that tackle them. Chat about Greenpeace, Cancer Research UK, UNICEF, WWF and more has decreased by 28% since coronavirus started consuming all media output. Mentions of charity, fundraising, donations, and non-profits have also decreased by 11% since the end of February.

So to some extent, the intense focus on coronavirus has impacted on the attention that unrelated charities are receiving. It remains to be seen whether those charities notice a dip in income, although those that rely heavily on events or footfall in shops for their fundraising will almost certainly be the hardest hit.

For now, coronavirus is, of course, dominating global debate. How long that lasts for is unknown, but it is encouraging for engagers and fundraisers in non-profits around the world alike to see that other important global issues are not going unnoticed, at least for the timebeing. 

European conference tour – what I learnt

Over the past two weeks, our CEO Jason Potts and I have been lucky enough to speak at three fundraising conferences in Europe and to attend sessions run by other fundraisers. While the locations (Austria, Slovakia and Holland) and themes of the conferences were different, I wanted to share some recurring trends.

i. There is no easy solution

A few times over the course of the conferences, I heard people say “I was hoping to come here and find the solution.” I pondered this for a while, before coming to the conclusion that there is no easy solution. How can there be one thing which every non-profit could implement which would work for them all? If fundraising was easy, would it still be the huge sector it is today, with thousands of people across the world working to raise funds for non-profits? Wouldn’t that easy solution have been rolled out and most of us have been made redundant? This takes me on to my second observation:

ii. People have a fear of interaction

The thought of sitting listening to someone talk to me for 1.5hrs or more fills me with dread. I would much rather be part of an interactive session where I can use my brain, work with my peers and learn by doing. It was therefore interesting to see that the majority of ‘workshops’ I attended were not in fact sessions where people were asked to ‘work’, but presentations from experts with a few moments of interaction during Q&As. This makes sense if what people are really looking for is an easy solution, and they want to come and listen to someone tell them how to do their job, but so much is then missed in terms of peer-to-peer interaction and learning.

iii. We’re still a very insular sector

At two of the conferences, there were no speakers from outside the sector. At the third, non-sector speakers made up perhaps 10% of the speaking roster. What is the sector’s fear of learning from other sectors, from being inspired by what’s possible when you have budget to spend and resources at your fingertips? No, we might not be able to then directly replicate what those in other sectors are doing, but we could at least be inspired by them.

iv. What goes around, comes around

In the same way that fashion comes around again and again, we shouldn’t be naive to think that old techniques can be pushed aside every time the next big thing comes along. However, we’re still seeing too much of those old methods at these conferences and not providing enough space for what’s new. Sessions entitled ‘What’s new, what’s working and what’s not’ don’t really seem to highlight the emerging trends. If we’re to catch up with the for profit sector, we need to think about leapfrogging what’s happening yesterday, today and tomorrow and look at what’s going to be happening next year.


I realise this post may be a little negative – this is not to say that I didn’t learn some amazing things and get to network with incredible fundraisers who are working tirelessly to do good, but I do think we need to start rethinking some of the ways that we engage at these conferences if we’re really going to accelerate our sector and look to learn all we can from what is happening in the wider world.