Management in the Not for Profit Organization

Dedicated to Exploring the Philosophies and Techniques of Management in the Non-Profit Sector

How to Impress the Wired Wealthy and Capitalize on the Rise in Online Giving.



Written by: Sumac Research

Date: July, 2010






It probably comes as no surprise to many of you that online giving is growing.  What may be surprising, however, is that the very wealthy (a reported 1% of donors that are responsible for 32% of non-profits annual gifts) are among those that prefer giving online.  Generally speaking, however, they are frustrated with non-profit websites.  In this article we will highlight two very important things you can do to impress them and capitalize on the growth in online giving.  


The wired wealthy

For a large part, because few large donations are made via the web, non-profits have been under the impression that large donors are not active online, but according to a new report by Sea Change Strategies [1], that's not the case.


The "wired wealthy" as defined by the report are people who give at least $1,000 per year to a single cause, who average $10,896 in donations per year to charities, and have a median gift size of $4,500. 

They are the kind of donors charities want to attract and keep, as while they may only make up about 1% of donors to the charities, they account for approximately 32% of their annual gifts. 


According to the study, more than half of the “wired wealthy” prefer giving online and 80% do at least some of their donating via the Internet.  Unfortunately, however, less than half of respondents thought non-profit websites were well-designed or inspired them.


Non-Profit Websites: Small Changes to Attract Big Donors

With the growth of online giving and the emergence of the wired wealthy who are very open to online giving, it is more important than ever to ensure your website encourages and supports this kind of giving.  If you want to capitalize on online giving, therefore, you should do two things:  Make key information easy to find and make the donation process easy.   


Make Key Information easy to find

According to a usability study conducted by leading industry expert, the Nielsen Norman Group [2], if you want to encourage online donations, it is imperative that your website be user-friendly and answer a prospective donor's questions. 


The good news is, you can generally predict what questions a prospective donor will have.  When participants of the study were asked what information they want to see on non-profit websites before they decide whether to donate, their answers fell into two groups of information:


  1. What are you trying to achieve? i.e. Mission, goals, objectives and work; and 
  2. How will you spend my money? i.e. How you use donations and contributions.


Out of the sites studied, only 43% answered the first question on their homepage and an astonishingly low 4% answered the second question.  While typically this information did exist somewhere on the site, users expressed considerable frustration with finding it. 


So, if you don't currently have all of this information on your website, make that your first priority!  And don't hide it in the “About us” section.  You only have a short time to impress potential donors, so showcase what great things you do and how you use generous donations on the homepage if possible. 


Making it Easy to Donate

Now just think of what a shame it would be to have impressed a wealthy prospect with all of the wonderful things your organization does and how his donation can help, and then lose him during the donation process.  Believe it or not, it happens all the time.  Take a good look at the donation process on your website.  If it is too long or complicated, it can be a deal breaker for potential donors.  Here are some simple things you can do to ensure the donation process goes smoothly:   


  1. Have a “Donate Now” button on each page of your website.
  2. Make sure the “Donate Now” button actually allows donors to go straight to the donation page and not a page that links to the donation page.  An extra page will just give donors an opportunity to change their minds and it's frustrating for donors who really are ready to donate. 
  3. Allow donors to enter the donation information first before asking for additional information.  The exciting part for donors is giving, so allow them to get to this part fast and they will be happy.  Then you can ask them for any additional information required. 
  4. Make sure your website accepts credit cards.  According to the Sea Change Strategies study, a good portion of the “wired wealthy” donate using credit cards because they like to collect the benefits associated with their premium cards. 
  5. Finally, make sure the payment page opens up inside the website itself.  On some non-profit websites, the payment page looks entirely different than the rest of the website.  Potential donors see this as a red flag and they may quickly lose trust and abandon the donation. 


Follow these simple tips and your organization will be securing many more online donations in no time --  and not just from the “wired wealthy,” but from anyone else who may stumble upon your website. 


Sumac is a complete, integrated nonprofit software solution that is easy to use, has incredible functionality and costs a fraction of what other software packages do. For information on Sumac or for more articles published by Sumac Research, visit:




[1] The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Your Middle and Major Donors. Published by: Sea Change Strategies.  March 14, 2008.  Available at:


[2] Donation Usability: Design Guidelines for Improving the Donation Process and the Usability of Essential Information  on Charity and Non-Profit Websites. Published by: Nielsen Norman Group. 2009.  Available at: s