When we launched our new website, we’ve completely redesigned everything. Our order form naturally went through a major overhaul as well. One of the improvements we’ve implemented has proven to be very beneficial: We now allow our customers to make an optional $1 donation to a charity whenever they purchase something from our secure online store.
At first, we’ve not received many donations, but more and more people are now choosing to add the one dollar donation to their purchase. In about 6 months, we’ve collected first $50, and sent them over to WWF.
It looks like we are going to collect the next $50 much more quickly.
If you are wondering why we’ve done this, let me tell you that there are many, many reasons. I will list some of the benefits at the end of this article. But first, let’s talk about the practical implementation.
How we did it
Basically, we’ve added a checkbox “Add $1 to my order as a donation to WWF” to the bottom of our order page. You can see it live in our software store.
It looks like this:
We’ve chosen WWF charity because we like its cause. However, if your business is based locally, you could choose some non-profit that is functioning in your community. There are a lot of non-profits to choose from, you can check out www.charitynavigator.orgfor some ideas (Charity Navigator also provides organizational efficiency ratings, etc.).
We’ve also added a small text link upon the checkbox, which pops-up a window with explanation – what is WWF, and how we process the donations. It is crucial that it is a pop-up, and not another page, because you do not want your customers to leave your order page. This is very important – when you include links to other pages that can distract your potential customers, you can easily lose sales.
We’ve created a new product “$1 donation” at our payment processor (BMT Micro). This product is included in the cart when the checkbox described above is checked. This product can’t be purchased as a stand-alone purchase. It must be always purchased together with another regular software product of ours.
There is one thing to be careful about when setting this up with your e-commerce provider – the minimum commission. Many e-commerce providers will charge you a minimum commission for each product sold. BMT Micro has incidentally $1.25 minimum commission. However, BMT Micro was kind enough to disable the commission for this $1 donation product altogether. I’ve just contacted them and asked for this. Their support is absolutely stellar.
And that’s about all you need to do.
Once you collect some larger sum (it doesn’t really matter how large it is, because many non-profits can accept even tiny donations), you can send it to the non-profit that you’ve chosen. If you are feeling generous, you can round it up or even match it.
OK, so why should you do this *at all*? There are many benefits. The major ones include:
- You are doing a good thing.
- You are enabling your customers to do a good thing.
- You are making your business “socially responsible”.
- You are going to appeal to female customers a lot more.
- You can generate extra buzz and content.
You are doing a good thing – well, a charity of your choosing is going to receive more money. That counts.
You are enabling your customers to do a good thing – it really feels wonderful to give. I’ve made some donations like this myself, and it has always felt great. I think that many people would like to donate, but it’s just not easy enough. You can fix that part – checking the checkbox on your order page is super-simple. Your customers are making a purchase anyway, so why not give them this option? Everyone who makes a donation will feel great, and will associate that good feeling with your business and products.
You are making your business “socially responsible” – basically, your business will look like it still cares. That is very important in this age of faceless corporations. Savvy users can really appreciate this.
You are going to appeal to female customers a lot more – it is a known fact that females are much more social creatures than males, and they feel that “giving back to community” is very important. This is a great way to engage the female audience – I bet that majority of your customers are males. Things like this can shift this unbalanced ratio a bit, and win you more customers.
And lastly, you can also publish news, announcements and blog posts about your initiatives to support non-profits. If you choose some tiny local non-profit, they might even list you on their website as a donor, or let you make an interview with them and publish it on your website or blog, etc. Non-profits can be very grateful.
Also, you could change the non-profits/causes based on what’s going on in the world at the moment. For example, right now, it would be still a good time to support the Japan’s disaster relief. A few years ago it would’ve been Haiti, and before that, Tsunami victims relief, and so on. Supporting what seems to be the most discussed cause at the current time is good – it’s actual, and it enables you to “ride the media wave”.
Letting your customers donate one dollar to a non-profit when making a purchase from you is not something that you want to implement early on, when your business is just taking off. However, once your business is mature, it is a great way to do some good, get positive PR, engage female audience, and generate extra buzz and content. Plus, it feels great both to you and your customers. It’s a win/win/win.
If you have any questions or comments, I will be delighted to hear them.