Around the world in 5 donation journeys

Lauralynn Feature Image 1

Do you ever think about where you’d move to if you won the lottery? Me too – usually based on where has the best lakes and mountains. But what if I tried a little usability experiment to decide where I’ll go?

I picked five charities from five different English speaking countries and made a one-off donation to each using my mobile.

I checked how the charities explained their cause, their online donation form and any follow up email to keep my engagement going. I was looking for the lessons we can learn from around the world.
Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from the experience.

Make your donate button sticky

Finding a way to donate shouldn’t be difficult. On some of the sites, it was hard to find a way to donate once I moved away from the homepage.

Take a look at Laura Lynn’s Children’s Hospice (Ireland) for a good example of a sticky but not pushy donate button.

Laura Lynns Childrens Hospice

Keep donation forms brief

Your donation form is critical. This is the point where money changes hands. If it’s difficult to do, users are way more likely to abandon their donation.

The Animal Welfare League Australia had a nice easy form, with just 11 fields to fill in (one page split into two sections).

At the other end of the scale, the Canadian Mental Health Association had several duplicate fields (I had to enter my full name twice). I really didn’t want to complete that donation.

If you want additional information (like the reason for the user’s donation), why not add it as an optional question after donating, or add a link to a short survey from your thank you email?
Consider whether you need every field in your form, and ditch any that will confuse or annoy your visitors.

Animal Welfare League Australia

Find opportunities to engage further

Only one charity (LauraLynn) had an email sign-up box as part of the donation form, but none of the charities used their thank you emails to try to engage with me in future.

I chose to make a one-off donation. So each charity had a huge opportunity to convert me into a long-term supporter by asking to send me great emails, or using the thank you email to tell me about a campaign I could support, or asking for two minutes to tell them why I donated. It’s a shame this opportunity to engage further was missed.

Use the human factor

Try to use natural language on your donation pages.

Two charities did a great job of talking to me like a human. The first was Meals on Wheels America, who used nice easy-going language in parts of their website (“America: let’s do lunch”).

The other was LauraLynn, who used my first name in the body copy of the thank you email (“It is only with support like yours Verity that we are able to…”).

Meals on Wheels America

Test your site!

All the sites I tested had little glitches when viewing on a smartphone.

Most were forgivable and didn’t put me off my journey, but they were mostly avoidable with a little bit of user testing.

Results in full

The Blind Foundation

(63 points)

Landing Page

  • 1 click to donate from the homepage but it’s buried under the footer 6/10
  • Site is well optimised for mobile 9/10
  • Donate form –  takes a while to load 6/10
  • Images – there aren’t many which make it easy to scan the site 6/10
  • Copy – could be a tad warmer and sentences shorter 6/10

Donation Form

  • Number of fields to fill – 22 (6/10)
  • Number of steps in donation process – 3 (8/10)
  • Email opt in – none – (0/10)
  • Clean design – yes but not enough branding. (8/10)

After donation

  • Email automation – thank you email says how the money is “already” being used which is incredible given that I donated at 4am NZ time. There’s no onward sign up for more and no branding to reinforce awareness. 7/10

Canadian Mental Health Association

(28 points – wooden spoon)

Landing Page

  • 2 clicks to donate from the homepage but you have to open the menu 6/10
  • Site is not well optimised for mobile 1/10
  • Donate form –  lots of parts don’t load 2/10
  • Images – none in the donate section 0/10
  • Copy – too dry could use more emotion 2/10

Donation Form

  • Number of fields to fill – 24 (0/10)
  • Number of steps in donation process – 2 (5/10)
  • Email opt-in – none – (0/10)
  • Clean design – yes but a bit broken (5/10)

After Donation

  • Email automation – thank you email says how my money helps but no attempt to draw me in for more and no branding used. (7/10)

Meals on Wheels America  

(64 points)

Landing Page

  • 2 clicks to donate on the homepage and an option on a sticky menu 8/10
  • Site is well optimised for mobile until the donation form which isn’t optimised 6/10
  • Donate form – a small site but does what it says on the tin 9/10
  • Images –  pretty good but a few and far between. Good use of video 7/10
  • Copy – really good use of human language, punchy, clear and optimised for the web 8/10

Donation Form

  • Number of fields to fill – 21 – 6/10
  • Number of steps in donation process – 3 – 8/10
  • Email opt in – no sir 0/10
  • Clean design – totally white page from neither distracts nor adds to the upsell potential. Shame it’s not optimised 5/10

After donation

  • Email automation – a decent thank you with details of how my money helps. No sign up for further comms though 7/10

LauraLynn Children’s Hospice

(79 points, winner)

Landing Page

  • 1 click to donate on the homepage with a sticky donate button 10/10
  • Site is generally well optimised for mobile with only a bit of text overlapping a picture. But the search bar is in the footer which seems odd 9/10
  • Donate form- there are no distractions, which is good 9/10
  • Images –  very few of children and families only banner images of the hospice. Good clear icons guide navigation.  6/10
  • Copy – Good generally short and clear with a mix of tones from factual to friendly really 7/10

Donation Form

  • Number of fields to fill – 19 – 7/10
  • Number of steps in donation process – 3 – 8/10
  • Email opt-in – Yes that mentions roughly what you’ll hear about 8/10
  • Clean design – yes and nice brand identity reinforce the warm and fuzzies 8/10

After donation

  • Email automation – quite good use of my name in the body text, but there’s no onward email sign up offered 7/10

Animal Welfare League Australia

(59 points)

Landing Page

  • 2 clicks to donate on the homepage but it’s very hard to find with no sticky donate button 6/10
  • Site is optimised for mobile but navigation is confusing: some links unexpectedly open in a new window and the burger menu’s nesting doesn’t immediately let you see how to move back up the site 6/10
  • Donate form – there are very few distractions on the route to donate with the exception of the navigation confusion 7/10
  • Images –  a mix of cheesy stock images and more natural. No discernible brand strategy for imagery 4/10
  • Copy – Not too wordy but equally there’s no real passion or emotion. Very little use of the word “donate”, “give now” or “support our work” is used 5/10

Donation Form

  • Number of fields to fill – 11 – 9/10
  • Number of steps in donation process – 2 – 8/10
  • Email opt-in – Nope 0/10
  • Clean design – yes but somehow a bit basic 7/10

After donation

  • Email automation – the email didn’t render well on mobile but gives a decent idea of how the money will be used. No onward sign up though. 6/10


The Emerald Isle comes up gold! Kudos to LauraLynn Children’s Hospice for having a lovely looking mobile optimised site with a lean donation form and a nice personal email (although they could add a conversion mechanism).

Perhaps all the rain in Ireland means more time inside to design and test top-notch donation journeys, whilst the Canadians are all enjoying the great outdoors or something? I guess I’ll just have to pack my bags and find out…

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Verity has/I've worked on digital marketing, development and usability projects in the public and charity sectors for too many years to count.