Charitable Donation? Good Luck Finding Out How

I sometimes still think about a site audit I did years ago.  This organization was a non-profit helping children.  The site used a top navigation bar, and one of the options was Donate.

So far, so good, but clicking the link brought the visitor to a big block of text with a tiny, grainy picture.  Most visitors would have to scroll a minimum of one screen to reach the donation form.  In the middle were several hundred words.

The visitor is at a charity, I told the organization.  Once they click a link that says ‘donate’, the next thing they should see is a choice of payment method.   They know they’re going to give  money.  Stop selling!

The organization remained unconvinced.  They didn’t want to talk about clickstreams or time on page or their equivalent of an abandoned shopping cart.   A post-meeting document followed the conversation about the audit, summarizing  the meeting and again recommending the donation process be improved.  When I checked some weeks later, the process remained the same.

I recently experienced deja vu all over again.  We made a decision to donate to a orphanage where we’ve met some staff members.  On a somewhat clunky but comprehensive site, there were no instructions on how to donate, even by mail with a manual check.  I contacted the umbrella organization sponsoring the orphanage on their contact form with this pretty explicit subject line:  Help Me Donate To XYZ Orphanage.

No answer.  For days.

Writing the “webmaster” didn’t work either.

After a brief discussion, we chose to send the donation to a nationally known organization.  They were also administratively challenged.    Their site failed to produce any donation information.   I was momentarily cheered to see a search box, but neither the word “donate” nor the word “donation” is indexed on their site.


An organization with a tiny budget that was local and had a top rating at got the donation.  I had already spent more  time searching for information than the value of the donation.  But I checked charities and big small tonight and found that 4 of the 14 sites I researched did not offer clear instructions on how to give the charity money.   I sent a nice note in a couple of egregious cases.   If you got one of those notes and are reading this, here is your proof that I didn’t out you.  Just please try to do better.

Meanwhile, we’ve taken on a charity of our own.  Silver Beacon always maintains at least two pro-bono clients that run charities.  In addition, I’m co-chairing this year’s StepOut for Diabetes Walk in Northern Virginia.  And unlike the folks who made it difficult for me to donate, I’ll make things very easy for you.

There is one link in this blog.   The link goes right to my page at the American Diabetes Association.  You can read about millions of diabetics on that page.  Those who prefer rational argument will get plenty of data.  Those who prefer the softer side can read a gut-wrenching story.

But the kicker is that if you donate there now and mention in this blog in your note, I will add $10 to your total.

Donate to StepOut for Diabetes now, and you get to know that you helped someone close to you. 1 in 12 Americans has diabetes. Click the link, give a buck if you want and it will turn into $11.  (Be nicer and give more, but if it’s only a buck, so be it)

And if you run a non-profit or have one that accepts donations, please check and test the donation process as much as you would the order process on an ecommerce site.

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