Home Page Teardown: How to Get More Donations Online

2 Minute Teardown - Small EmbossPeople love a good live teardown.

It was super-fun to do teardowns at Microconf in Vegas. And I’ve had loads of requests for more ever since…

So we’re starting something new around here!

It’s called Teardown Tuesdays, and this is the first installment. I’m hoping to keep teardowns in the 2-minute range, but y’never know.

We’re planning to combine this with Theory Thursdays to round out your CRO learnin’ each week. Sound cool?

Let’s see how this pans out, shall we? Starting now…

This Week’s Teardown Is for

What if HALF of your annual donations came in during a 6-week period… when every other non-profit on earth was competing for your prospects’ attention… to say nothing of the retailers clawing hungrily at their ever-shrinking wallets?

You’d wanna make sure your site is about as optimized as possible to bring in donations, yes?

Check out my teardown – and see if you agree with my quick donation-boosting recommendations…

Watch the Video Teardown on
How to Get More Donations Online

A big part of this teardown was on “friction” in button copy…

To see how to reduce friction in your copy, check out this post

And be sure to help out! Tell them below how to get more donations online….

How do you think they can improve their chances…?

About the author

Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe - Copywriter and author of "Copyhackers"

  • Nick Marshall

    You gotta keep this Tuesday thing going Joanna – it’s a great idea. Short and sweet and it generated lots of equally interesting input.

  • Olga at Special Olympics

    Hi everyone, thank you for your thoughtful and constructive feedback! We care deeply about our mission and your expertise and suggestions will be very helpful to continue optimizing our fundraising efforts.
    PS I am not Raymond’s aunt 🙂

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Glad you like the teardown format, Aaron! That’s a relief. I nearly pulled the plug on it last night around midnight — was gonna take the post down. But then I thought, well, it’s an experiment — let’s just see how people respond. So far, so good. 🙂

    I totally agree that the stories need to take up more of the primary real estate on the page. There’s clearly a lot that the Special Olympics is trying to communicate, if the length of the page is any indication, but what could be more important than stories of joy and accomplishment for prospective donors landing on this page? (I suppose a Qualaroo survey could help them get an answer to that Q.)

    • Aaron Orendorff

      Looks like wasn’t the only one who liked the teardown format. Awesome reception!

      I wonder how the Special Olympics people would fill in the blanks: “We do/provide ________________, so that you [the donator] can do/feel/be ________________.” (I stole that from The Story of Telling.)

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Totally brilliant! Starting straight away can increase a) starts by making it easy to get into the process and b) completes by invoking a sense of commitment and of being knee-deep in a task (so you’d might as well go all the way). Dig it, Craig!

  • One thing I’ve found effective with soliciting donations, is giving people permission to donate a small amount. People want to give more than we give them credit for, but their fear is usually that whatever they give won’t make a difference… so might as well not give.

    So some copy about “every penny makes a difference” I think would go a long way. I remember this tactic being effect when I used in a fundraising campaign… didn’t really get stats on it, but there was a chapter that does have some data on this in YES! by Robert Cialdini.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I hate to pretend my own experience is some sort of evidence of how people at large think, but I have to say that, when it comes to donating to, say, finding a cure for cancer, I feel like I’m just one of a million raindrops hitting the ocean at the same time – like I don’t even make a ripple in the water.

      It’s not a great feeling.

      Compare that to, say, sponsoring a child or a microbiz, and you actually feel like you’re going to have an impact. Interesting… (BTW, love Yes! So many more examples than in Influence.)

      • Good point. Being able to illustrate the impact you have is super supportive.

  • ZL

    K this is kind of genius. Here I was thinking you were going to a meanie (I’m a very new reader and subscriber) and I came to watch the horror. This is way more useful. I think this might be the first time I have ever been super happy to no only subscribe but to look forward to hearing from a site I’m “interested” in. Cool beans!

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I’ll take “kind of genius” as “insanely genius” the way glistening-chest Jacob took Bella’s “you’re kind of beautiful” comment as “you’re insanely beautiful.” …Oh, crap… I don’t think referencing Twilight is supporting the whole “genius” idea….

      Glad you preferred useful to mean! Me, too. Of course, only a jerk would rag on the site of a non-profit, right?

  • Joanna Wiebe

    Interesting, Beth! I know that, when I’m going through the Costco checkout and they ask me to donate, I breathe a sigh of relief when they say, “Would you like to donate $5” vs when they say, “How much would you like to donate?”

    Giving people that recommended price could be really interesting — and it could be as easy as testing a button that reads, “Make a Difference! Donate Now” against one that reads, “Make a Difference! Donate $25 Now”.

  • Bryn

    I’d put an emotionally charged video (see: Kony 2012) in place of the hero image.

    I’d also make the ‘Donate Now’ section much larger (if that’s the main goal of the page). Perhaps x2-3 as large with a larger button and a list of reasons why someone would want to donate.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      I agree — it seems a video filled with Special Olympics athlete + coach + family stories could go a long way toward helping to trigger emotional responses in prospective donors. Do you think the cost of such a video might be holding them back? It seems to hold a lot of businesses and non-profits back, especially when boards and brand advisors are involved. (A startup can whip one up, see what happens, and adjust. Not so for more recognized brands, it seems.)

  • Love this format! I would:

    1) Improve site load time with some small tweaks. (It’s painfully sloooooow.) I would start with replacing the slider with 1 core message. (Sliders make a site overly busy, require additional large images to load, require javascript download that may or may not be bloated code. They are the lazy marketers friend.)

    I would run the site through to identify easy wins for speeding up the site. This tool shows what all is loading & what is causing a site to drag. (This tool is especially helpful for wordpress sites for finding things the theme provider has loaded into the theme for features you’re not using.)

    2) a/b test the popup that asks for a donation. I find these annoying when someone has their hand out before even saying hello or telling me about the great things they do.

    3) another a/b test: that area top right that’s currently the search bar. (are people really using it?) Test putting a donate button up there — definitely using wording along the lines Joanna suggested.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Page load times is one of those things I don’t think about enough. Lance is huge on it — it’s because of him that we’re with WP Engine instead of chugging along with Lord knows what host. Good point, Anne!

  • Here is some related news about the Special Olympics: Y&R was recently chosen to head their marketing through 2015. I have an Aunt that works for the SO, and I have been volunteering for them annually for the past 5 years.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Cool that your aunt works for the Special Olympics! A wonderful woman from there reached out to me about copywriting a few months back — I wonder if it was your aunt. 🙂

      • If she was a wonderful woman, it was probably her, or someone like her. She only reaches out to wonderful people, so it’s no surprise that she reached out to you!

  • Paul Sokol

    Maybe the button CTA could be ‘Make a Difference In An Athlete’s Life and Donate Now’?

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Yeah, or even introduce the button with a line of copy directly above it, like:

      Is supporting athletes of all abilities important to you?
      Show Your Support – Donate Now

  • Jill Antweiler

    I would bring up the donate button toward top of page when viewing on iOS device. I would do this on all mobile platforms. It currently shows at bottom.

  • Robert Campbell

    Going along with your “friction” assessment of the Donate Now box on the home page, I think they should do the same with the “Become a Monthly Donor” pop up window that you see when you visit the site. Currently the copy is:

    Become a Monthly Donor

    It’s easy. It’s convenient. And it makes a difference! Become a monthly donor today.

    I would instead lead with the donor benefit.


    Make an Enduring Difference. Become a Monthly Donor.

    It’s easy. It’s convenient. And it will help secure the future of Special Olympics.

    • Joanna Wiebe

      Agreed, and I might consider giving “Monthly Donor” a name, like “Athlete’s Advocate” or “Champion of the SO”. I’d rather become an Athlete’s Advocate than a Monthly Donor.

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