OCTOBER 2013: I write about the Columbus Symphony Orchestra – a lot. Is it positive? Yes. All of it.
Except this one, lone subject.
I think of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s online donation process (Set up by CAPA and powered by Ticketmaster) is a great opportunity for improvement. Does it work? Yeah – technically. It took me many (5-6) tries before I could find enough patience to figure it out, but yeah – technically, it works. It’s a lesson in absurdity, but it works. More or less. (Scroll down for work instructions or for a summary, visit my October Post which summarizes the process in list form)
Considering the CSO’s operational budget is a roughly 70/30 split between relying on donations for 70% and for ticket sales for 30%, I think the online donation process could stand to be improved. (2011 annual report – 2012 annual report)
Unfortunately, the CSO itself doesn’t have decision rights in this. It’s all at the feet of CAPA to decide and I’m not sure it’s motivated to make any improvements, despite its own online donors’ being subject to the same, lengthy and convoluted process.
This is a page I originally put together last July 3rd – the first time I wrote about this – after having conducted a survey. An online donation process should always be quick and easy. As Lisa Hirsch recently wrote (again) – “Make it as easy as possible for people to give you their money.” She wrote that yet again after seeing my latest post about this process.
In a post called Take My Money, Please, Drew McManus wrote about conversion which is how often a patron performs a desired action upon visiting a website – such as buying a ticket or making a donation.
Donating money should not have to require work instructions! It should be easy, instinctive and never require an account. I think that the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is shooting itself in the foot – or perhaps CAPA is shooting the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (and CAPA, CATCO and the Lincoln Theatre) in the foot because it’s their donation portal that must be used. Ironically, inside that portal, you’ll see the logo of Opera Columbus which has its own donation process which takes only 4-5 steps to make a donation, does NOT require an account to be set up and by no means, does it time you out like the CAPA / Ticketmaster portal does. Heaven forbid you should have to run upstairs for your wallet or pull dinner out of the oven mid-donation. Because if you do, you’ll be timed out and have to start all over.
By the way, this is all open source material that I’m using. I’m using no inside information and nothing that cannot be sourced by anyone with a computer or smart phone.
You need the money, CSO. You rely on it to pay the salaries of all the office folks and musicians. You use it to advertise (though for the life of me, I don’t know where since I have yet to see any advertising, though I’m still looking) so why make it so difficult? Why make it so difficult that people – including your own musicians I’ve asked to try it out – give up half way through the process?
I’ll keep writing about this every month (and will donate $5 every month) to write about how ridiculous a process it is, but I look forward to the day when I can write about how it has finally turned into something super easy that will allow the CSO to start collecting donations from casual donors because those $5-10-20-50 donations really add up and right now you’re sending out a huge message that you don’t want them.
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is a very good orchestra. They deserve better than this, CSO administration. They deserve better. Columbus deserves our orchestra, too, because if the CSO can’t be funded, we’ll lose a great arts organization, and it almost seems as if you’re purposely making it hard for the CSO to make its current budget. Please dispel that myth. Help fix that potentially erroneous perception!
Here are all my monthly posts about the online donation process. Please spread the word. This MUST change and it MUST change for the better. I long for the day when I can write about a new online donation process because that news is something I think will spread like wildfire!
15 Or So – January 2014
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – December 2013
KISS Principle – November 2013
How Far Would You Go? – October 2013
CSO Online Donation Update: September - September 2013
CSO Online Donation Update: August - August 2013
Survey Results: Donate? Part III - July 2013 Part III
Survey Results: Donate? Part II – July 2013 Part II
Survey Results: Donate? Or Not? - July 2013 Part I - read about a hypothetical casual donor and learn of the origins of my tip jar!
This page highlights the step-by-step process (as of July 3, 2013) of the donation process for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. As I learn of process changes or improvements, I will happily update this page, but this is the most stream-lined version I could work out.
* There are 19 steps / screen required to make a donation including 3 to set up an account.
* There are 3 additional screens if a donor doesn’t complete the donation in a 10-minute window once the checkout process is started.
* The donor is required to start over after two possibilities: 1 – donor is timed out, 2 – donor wishes to change the amount of donation.
THE ONLINE DONATION PROCESS
Step 1: Visit Columbus Symphony Orchestra Website and click the orange Donate button.
Step 2: Within the Support page, click “Online Donations” link in #4 of Individual Giving.
Step 3: Create a new account by typing in your Email address. Click the “Continue” button. (If you already have an account ID/Email address and password, skip to Step 6 to begin the donation process.)
Step 4: Fill in your name, zip and create a password.
Step 5: Click “Home” in the upper right hand corner to begin the donation process.
Step 6: Click “Donate Now” in the lower left hand corner.
NOTE: Please note that this “Your request is being processed” message will appear after almost all of the following screens until the donor reaches the shopping cart. Clicking several things and then hitting enter is not an option. It’s one click at a time and this will appear in between each item the donor chooses.
Step 7: Under donor information “Who’s the donation for?” Choose “Myself.”
Step 8: Once “Myself” is chosen, Type in “Patron listing name” or click to remain anonymous.
Step 9: Donation defaults to CAPA. Scroll down to choose a different organization to support, if desired.
Step 10: Click on Columbus Symphony Donation to pull it into the screen.
Step 11: Click “Columbus Symphony Annual Fund Donation” to pull in donation amount box.
Step 11 continued – Donation amount box appears.
Step 12: Fill in desired donation amount and click “apply.”
Step 13: After amount appears in “Total Donation” box to the left, Click “Add to cart” at the bottom to be taken to the shopping cart.
Step 14: Review / confirm the donation amount. If correct, click “Checkout” on the left side.
Step 14 A: Donor may change amount or organization by clicking “Change donation.” Once clicked, donor is sent back to the “Donate Now” screen shown in Step 6.
Step 15: 10-minute timer has started. Transaction must be completed within that period of time or donor will be required to restart the donation process.
Choose payment method.
Step 16: Fill in credit card information. Click box at bottom of the screen ONLY if you want Ticketmaster to save your credit card information for future purchases.
Step 17: Timer is still running… Confirm purchase / donation amount. Click box if you agree to terms. Click “Submit order” button at the bottom right of page. (Screen shots here shown in two parts so as not to reveal my personal address as I made a small $5 donation to complete this process and gather all these screen shots.)
Step 18: Confirmation Page. If desired, click “Print this page for your records” for a printer-friendly version of this confirmation. Page is truncated to hide my address. At the bottom right of the page however, is an “Account Home” button. Click “Account Home” in lower right hand corner (not shown below) to return to an updated version of the “Donate Now” screen shown in Step 6.
Step 19: Lather, rinse, repeat. Feel free to start again at Step 6 to make another donation. Home page is now updated to reflect the donation just made. It also shows what’s needed to “upgrade” to the next level, but fails to include a quick link to automatically donate that amount.
TIME OUT ADDENDUM
Time Out Screen 1: If transaction is not completed within the allotted 10 minute time-frame, the donor is timed out. This screen will appear advising the donor that a ticket cannot be purchased because Ticketmaster wants to make sure tickets are available to as many people as possible. Click “Start Over” button.
Personal side note: I think the donation option via Ticketmaster was an afterthought that was not at all thought through, so the donation process is based on a cut-throat effort to sell tickets which is why a potential donor is kicked out of the system if the donation isn’t completed inside a 10-minute window of time. It’s probably also why a donation attempt is canceled so that more people have access to tickets. The two are not related, yet the one is forced to conform to the requirements of the other. There is much room for improvement here.
Time Out Screen 2: Donor is advised there are no items for sale at this time and to check back later. Donor must then click “Home” button.
Time Out Screen 3 / Step 6: DC Al Coda. Once “home” button is clicked, the donor is returned to the home screen shown above in Step 6.