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Fund Options on Giving Pages

  • 1.  Fund Options on Giving Pages

    Posted 07-09-2020 09:50 AM
    Hi All,

    Right now we have many different fund options to choose from on our giving pages and we are in the process of streamlining the pages with the goal to increase unrestricted giving.  I am curious on what the best practices / trends are for fund options on giving pages.   


    Douglas Bishop
    Advancement IT Director
    University of Dayton

  • 2.  RE: Fund Options on Giving Pages

    Posted 07-09-2020 10:13 AM
      |   view attached
    I would LOVE to see a best practice here!  However, in all my travels, all I have found are "different" practices.  I think this is due to many factors:
    • System limitations
    • Staff limitations
    • Web design limitations
    • Politics
    The last is the biggie.  Everyone wants their fund prominently listed on the donation page.

    While things have very likely changed at NC State, we developed a "Featured Funds Protocol" in 2012.  I worked closely with all of the fundraising programs to build something fair and hoped to give everyone some of their own time in the sun.  I am attaching that eight-year-old protocol.  It might serve as a useful guide for addressing some of your concerns.

    Please understand that I am sharing this document as an example, and not as what is the practice at NC State today (although they may still be doing something similar).  I have, however, implemented a similar protocol at other institutions.

    Douglas, many institutions have found it challenging to push purely unrestricted giving.  That was true for us at NC State a decade ago when we shifted away from an annual fund model to an annual giving model.  As such, only one of our featured funds was "unrestricted."


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987


  • 3.  RE: Fund Options on Giving Pages

    Posted 07-09-2020 11:47 AM
    Hi Douglas,

    There are web UI/UX practices that can encourage unrestricted giving by making that 'user journey', that path through the website, most prominent and convenient. However, this can't change the intrinsic motivations of your donors. If they want to give restricted gifts, they are unlikely to change their mind based on the user interface. You can make improvements at the margins that are meaningful though. In general, fewer giving options are better, making defaulting to unrestricted is important, and offering a 'fast checkout' option that doesn't offer an opportunity to restrict the gift can also help.

    Over the years, I've become convinced that although donors do want a closer connection between what they give and what it pays for, the legal standard of 'restriction' is often far too extreme for achieving that purpose. Other approaches short of formal restriction can still give donors that sense of connection. For example, we had a client who changed the language on their donation page so that the donor expressed a preference for how their donation would be spent, rather than a formal restriction. Donor behavior didn't change, donor intent was still recorded and substantially honored, but it was operationally simpler and provided much more flexibility.  In another context, I was a board member at an org that was seeking to engage donors in the 40-60 bracket by offering them opportunities for designated giving. The way we did it was by asking some of our top donors to make a challenge gift that was unrestricted. As a result, we raised more money, more of it was unrestricted, and we were able to ensure that the specific projects the lead givers cared about still got the funding they needed.

    I probably went well beyond the scope of your question!

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    CRM Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

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