If your donors can’t find it, they can’t fund it

Daily Briefing

If your donors can’t find it, they can’t fund it

Colleges tend to bury specific gift designations in long drop-down menus that few donors take the trouble to navigate

Advancement staff struggle to identify which gift designations best align with alumni affinities. Whatever information they may have on donor interests quickly grows out of date as donors develop new philanthropic interests.

As a result, staff cannot proactively reach out to donors with suggestions about giving options that they would find meaningful.

On the other hand, donors who visit the giving page often encounter difficulties when trying to find those meaningful causes for themselves. The university buries specific gift designations in long drop-down menus that few donors go through the trouble of navigating. Consequently, donors fail to see something they feel passionate about supporting. They ultimately leave without making a gift.

To resolve the issue, advancement and IT staff can re-work the institution’s giving page to better guide donors to the cause that motivates them to give. The new layout groups gift designations by their overarching cause or theme—not by their home department or college.

User-friendly layouts present website visitors with photos, customized cases for support, progress bars, and other multimedia elements that elevate the giving experience and help sustain momentum through the completion of the gift.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) overcame the challenge by empowering alumni to find the cause that most resonates with them. By putting alumni in the driver seat, they circumvented the perennial problem of misaligned appeals.

UCLA’s new giving website allows alumni to browse through a range of funds from all across campus. Instead of the traditional drop-down list of designations, they have organized funds by “cause.” The website lists 14 causes, ranging from the arts, to the environment, to technology, to global impact. Alumni who click on any one of those causes will see a diverse group of funds from all across campus to which they can donate.

These funds appear in an attractive, user-friendly format. In many ways, the website’s layout mirrors the functionality of crowdfunding. Photographs illustrate each case for support, a progress bar tracks donations, and alumni who hover over the fund can see its total fundraising goal. Advancement leaders at UCLA hope to use the website to connect donors to causes that they care about on campus.

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