By Carl Tierney

6 Rules To Make Giving Easy for First Time Givers

The first time giver is your most important audience. They are the ones who need the most information, the ones who may be concerned about sharing their information and may not understand what to give to.
Providing comfort, context, and affirmation is how we ensure the first-time giver becomes a second time giver, and hopefully at some point a recurring giver.
Here are 6 rules for designing your giving flow in a way that will optimize their experience:

#1 – Don’t require an account

One of the basic mistakes many people make is they think an account is required to ensure data integrity or that it’s important to make the second gift easier. What you end up doing is validating the first-time giver’s perception on how much effort is required to give online.
We need to borrow some ideas from the ecommerce world and realize that if the decision to create an account is offered on ecommerce sites these days, it happens after they complete their shopping, not before. While Amazon is an exception, look at the ecommerce flows on sites like Macy’s, Restoration Hardware, or Best Buy.

#2 – Don’t provide too many options to give

We need to think about creating a path on mobile and on the web that 90% are there for: to give using the channel they are looking at right now.
Many organizations feel compelled to explain how to donate their car or stock, or set up a planned gift, etc. These are important options…. but are not an ideal option for first time givers. Consider putting these other options near the self-service area where they are pulling their statements or reviewing their giving instead of on the page where you take visitors to give. We want to keep the first-time giver focused on the action of giving.

#3 – Avoid lengthy explanations on giving

We often feel guilt when it comes to asking people to give, and therefore we launch into an explanation of why they should, instead of inspiring them or just cutting through the clutter about what they’re there to do.
Instead, what we need to do is connect with them quickly and with meaning. Think, why is this important to them personally? Once they’ve clicked on the give button, we need to use simple messaging to let them know what to do next, what action they need to take to complete their gift.
Consider explaining the importance of generosity in a single sentence or paragraph. Even with specific causes, like mission trips or outreach programs, if they click on it, that means they’re interested. Don’t waste time trying to convince them it’s important.

#4 – Context is key

Always provide context. First time givers may not know what the “general fund” is, so don’t call it general fund. It can be the general fund. You can know it’s the general fund. But why is “general fund” important to the giver?
Instead, explain what costs the general fund covers – i.e. operations costs which allows the church to keep their doors open, or allows attendees to continue enjoying the experience they had at your church. The name, the description, the photo are all opportunities to connect with the first-time giver. Make sure they are self-explanatory and meaningful to the first-time giver, not just to staff.

#5 – Acknowledge the First Gift

Make sure your acknowledgement specifically thanks them for their first gift. It’s a big deal. It means they found something in your church worth investing in. So the more intimate and specific your messaging is, the better.
This is your opportunity to show that you know who they are. Let them know what difference their gift made in your church’s mission. Being specific and personalizing that message will only increase their likelihood to give again.

#6 – Provide something to give to beyond the general fund

Over 78% of first-time givers will give the first time to the general fund option – “offering or tithe” – but the other 22% will look for something specific to give to what means something to them.
Sometimes people aren’t ready to give in general, and giving to something specific is more comfortable. For example, maybe someone went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic when they were younger. If they see that as an option to give to on your website, it may resonate with them.
Make sure you have a path for the other 22%.

With these 5 tips you should be well on your way to providing value and meaning for your first-time givers.

*Written by Carl Tierney, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Vision2