I just donated $5 to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. I already have an account set up, so it only took me about 15 or so steps from the front page of the website to confirming my donation.
Simpler would be better.
Looking to simplify? Here’s some information on just how crazy simple it is to simplify an overly cumbersome online donation process. It’s definitely worth taking the infinitesimal amount of effort needed to look into this. I can set up a tip jar using PayPal inside of 15 minutes. Per Adaptistration, the CSO (and other arts organizations) could – within 48 hours – easily make their online donation process less than 2 minutes for the average donor. How many of those average donors might stop passing it by?
Those $5-10-20-50 donations sure would add up, don’t you think?!
It’s that time of year when people are making last-minute donations in order to add to what they can write off on their taxes. As well they should. There are plenty of places out there that are in need of our generosity, so I say, go for it!
My favorite orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is one such organization. Two more that I think are well worth your support are the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and the Westerville Symphony Orchestra. Why these three? Because I’ve been to performances of all three in the last few months or so and think they’re fabulous! (CSO – six concerts, ProMusica – one concert, with tickets for another this Sunday, and Westerville Symphony – two concerts.) There’s some great music to be heard in this town, friends! And WOSU Radio – Classical 101 – I listen to them all the time. Their app helps keep me sane at work when stress levels are high and my hyper coworker is far louder than usual!
Many orchestras have a 60/40 split – 60% off donations and 40% off ticket sales. Not sure about ProMusica or Westerville, but the Columbus Symphony Orchestra has a 70/30 split. That means 70% of their operating budget (per the last two annual reports – 2011 / 2012) stems from donations and only 30% from ticket sales, so they definitely have their work cut out for them in terms of soliciting donations. They’re so worth it though because their musicians are amazingly good! Of course – you could all just start buying tickets like I do. Hey – It’s a suggestion. You support them AND get an evening of fantastic music!
Support your community!
Supporting the arts helps to support your community. Think about it – you’re helping to keep people employed – always a plus. You’re getting high quality, live entertainment! Very cool. You’re helping to improve and expand educational opportunities for both children and adults. Both necessary. And you bring in tourism dollars by helping to give people yet another reason to visit your town. Tourism helps boost your local economy!
Arts and culture make up a significant chunk of our economy. The A/P recently reported how the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment of the Arts have released a study on just how much arts and culture, a.k.a. “Creative industries”, contribute to our national economy. In the A/P article, it says this:
Creative industries led by Hollywood account for about $504 billion, or at least 3.2 percent of U.S. goods and services, the government said in its first official measure of how the arts and culture affect the economy.
Drew McManus today commented today in his blog, Adaptistration, that you should naturally take care in what you read. Consider the source and don’t compare apples to oranges. Most studies are locally based, rather than national like the one above. I agree with him – that makes total sense.
I think it’s a good indicator of things to come though and something to keep track of because it’s easy to cut funding for the arts and it’s easy to cut funding to music programs in schools, but remember folks, concerts and plays and art exhibits really do bring money into our communities are they are not to be taken lightly. These are some good economic contenders who can really help us out and are therefore deserving of our support. Think about it – you can support the arts, help boost our economy and get a tax write-off. Wins all around!
Here are some details on some local arts organizations that, in my humble opinion, I think you should all support this holiday season if you can. If all else fails, you can buy a ticket, too, but arts organizations bring a lot of money into our economy, so it’s worth making sure they stick around. You’ll get a tax write-off, of course, but you’re making sure Columbus is a well-rounded city full of entertainment and music education programs.
Our symphony is incredibly good! Go buy a ticket for their next concert and then make a donation! Yes – the online donation process is beyond horrid, but they take checks. It’s super simple – just grab their address below. (Clicking the “Donate” button off the front page gets you there, too)
55 E. State St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Then, go to your bank’s website, log in and set them up like you would for any bills you might pay, only this is not a bill. This is a great musical organization that is worthy of our support, my fellow Buckeyes! Fill out the amount you’d like to donate and send it off. There. Done.
Congratulations. You’ve just supported the longest standing musical arts organization here in Columbus. Took less than five minutes. Come on. Admit it. You feel good now, don’t you?
Wow. These guys are really good. You can mail a check to them, too, but their online donation process is ridiculously easy to use. Just click the link above and make a donation. It takes two minutes. Feel free as well to join my dad and me this Sunday at their Holiday concert. (Messiah sing-along is Friday and their Christmas concerts are Saturday at the Josephinum and Sunday at the Southern Theatre downtown. It’ll be really great!)
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra
243 North Fifth Street, Suite 202
Columbus, OH 43215
See? Another great music organization supported. I know you’re feeling good now!
They don’t have an online donation system, per se, but you can go into their store and “purchase” a donation amount. It’s a little weird, but it works. Plus, like the others, you’re always welcome to go the online bill-pay route and set them up with your online banking.
Westerville Symphony at Otterbein University
167 South State Street, Suite 80
P.O. Box 478
Westerville, Ohio 43086-0478
I was pleasantly surprised the first time I heard them play last August. Wow! And it was a free concert, too! Can’t go wrong with that! And then in October with that Chopin piano concerto – WOWZA! It was seriously amazing, people. You should kick yourself if you missed it. They have a holiday concert coming up this Saturday at 8pm up at Otterbein. Tickets are only $25 and unlike ProMusica and the CSO (Sorry guys) their $25 tickets are actually $25! No added Ticketmaster fees. Awesome!
I’d be going, too, were it not for the fact that my bonus (and my savings) have to go to a new catalytic converter. Yeah. Fun. But I’ll go in the new year – and you should, too!
It all adds up!
Anyhoo…if you set these great organizations up like you do with all your bills for online banking, you can very easily make a small (or large!) donation to them whenever you’re in there paying all your bills. Even $5 every now and then adds up! That’s what I donate to both the CSO and WOSU every month.
Oh my gosh – speaking of WOSU radio! Classical 101, our local classical music station in town, probably does more to advertise and market all these arts organizations than the organizations themselves – and I promise, that’s not meant to be snarky in any way. Classical 101 is just awesome!
They do so much to help promote great music in our community. Heck – its on-air personalities give pre-concert chats at so many performances (Christopher Purdy at the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Jennifer Hambrick at the Westerville Symphony Orchestra and Boyce Lancaster at the Codas at ProMusica Chamber orchestra – among others, I’m sure!) which help us all better relate to the music we’re about to hear – or have just heard. It’s so helpful – especially when you’re about to hear something new – to be able to put that music in context. It helps you both relate to the music but also better understand it so you can figure out why the 1st movement of Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto was considered so weird at the time, or why there were riots at the premier of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (great for ticket sales though!), what Mahler was like “before he was Mahler” and how the heck did they manage to get a substitute soloist for Mendelssohn’s violin concerto only two days before the first performance!
We’re so lucky to have so much great music in this town – and so much of it, too! And to think, I didn’t even mention Early Music in Columbus (I hope to make it to Twelfth Night!), Chamber Music Columbus or wow – the Ohio State University and Otterbein University schools of music!
So tell me, which organizations are you supporting in 2013?
Last month I wrote about the difficulties of making an online donation to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Since it’s been a month, I thought I’d check back to see if they’d removed any of the 19 or so steps it takes to make a donation or if just anything had changed. To find out, I made another $5 donation.
Anything changed? Yes, several things.
Anything useful? Well – one thing. You don’t have to make a phone call to fix your password!
Has the process been shortened? Um…no. The bad grammar in Step 7 was kind of fixed, so I guess that’s something.
My apologies for the snarkiness this time around, truly, (and for the resulting length) but several changes were made since I last donated and with only one exception, nothing was actually improved. The length of the process (i.e. the number of steps required) remains the same.
Here’s what I noticed. (If you’d like them handy for reference, here are the original step-by-step instructions.)
CHANGE 1 – The one exception
A phone call is no longer necessary to reset a password. YEA! For my Email that was locked out because I once mistyped my password, I clicked the “forgot your password” link, plugged in my Email address and inside of a minute, had a new temporary password.
- – Granted, for a donation, an ID and password should never be required to begin with, but we’re not there yet, so this we’ll take this as a positive step.
On the login page, there’s a lot of extra text on the righthand side of the page. Labeled “Account Manager Helpful Hints”, it discusses something about Archtics and tells us we can buy tickets and make donations, but need to set up an account first. I think it’s the fine print. I did find two parts to be interesting though, mostly because they kind of contradict each other.
When you login with your email address and password, you will have access to all of the accounts that contain your email address.
When you login with an account number and password, you will have access to one account only.
In Step 6, there are now additional instructions and helpful hints. For example, it tells you to:
Scroll down and click “Donate Now” to make a contribution to CAPA, CATCO, Columbus Symphony Orchestra or the Lincoln Theatre.
So instead of just linking it at the top of the page, or moving the “Donate Now” button to the top of the page, it includes instructions telling you to scroll down to the bottom of the page to click the button there. Clever.
- – Please note that in the “August” screen shot it states I’m in Columbus Symphony, yet in a few more steps, I will still have to click a few different screens to choose to donate to the Columbus Symphony, so I’m not – really – in the Columbus Symphony.
- – Also, though included in the line of logos atop each page, donors are not actually able to donate to the Opera Columbus, Jazz Arts Group or the Columbus Children’s Theatre via this portal. It should also be noted that each logo is linked only to the CAPA website. They’re not linked to their own.
The screen in Step 6, shown above, also tells you about quick links. Generally speaking, links are supposed to be quick, right? Here’s what it says:
Use the “Quick Links” menu to change your password, update your personal information, and manage your email subscriptions.
On the lefthand side, about halfway down the screen is a drop-down menu which reads “view all quick links.”
Instead of drawing our attention to something that is poorly labeled, how about just labeling it better? Perhaps “Manage my account” instead? Then, we’ll know what it is and everything can be listed as a drop down. “Home” is already linked in the upper right hand corner of the page so it’s not really needed here. And since our attention is drawn to Email Settings, perhaps that should be specifically included in the drop down as well.
Speaking of which, is there any reason both the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Opera Columbus are not offered as Email subscriptions? Are they intentionally not being marketed?
Despite visitors’ being able to sign up for emails off the front pages of the CSO and Opera Columbus websites, that service should also be offered here since we’ve already learned from Change 3 that we can’t get back to those websites from within this portal. It should also be included for donors who come to the portal via CAPA or CATCO, don’t you think? They should have the opportunity to sign up, too, right?
- – By the way, while at Stauf’s yesterday, I was seriously – and specifically – asked about whether or not Opera Columbus still even existed. People will never donate to you if they think you’ve folded.
In the “Donate Now” screen, it has changed from “Who’s the donation for” to “Donation from.” Sure, the participle still dangles, but contextually, it now makes much more sense! :-)
OK, for the record though, this question is just silly. Obviously it’s from me because we’re inside my account. And if that’s the only option in the drop down, why make me click on it? My advice to the CSO? Since I’m still a good 6-7 steps from viewing my shopping cart (which, for a donation is kind of weird) why don’t you just pull that info in there automatically? It’s like giving a multiple-choice exam where you force the test taker to request the possible answers after every single question.
In the above screen from Change 5, it also adds some additional text which I found to be rather odd. Here’s what it said:
Please login or create an account before making your contribution. If you have an account, but do not know the password, click “Forgot Your Password?” to receive a temporary password by email. Thank you for your support!!!
I’m a little confused. You cannot get to this screen without having already logged in. And why are you forcing us to take these steps before we *give* you money anyway? It’s like saying “I’m sorry, but you have to give me both a manicure and pedicure before you buy me dinner.” Just seems odd to me. The thank you – that’s appreciated. Nice touch. The other couple of sentences are superfluous at this stage. We’ve already figured them out if we’re this far along.
The way things are written, the way things are labeled, e.g. “view in quick links” or (paraphrased) “you have to set up an account to donate” (after we’ve already hit the login screen) screams of training a first-ever computer user back in 1993. I would have been impressed with this back then, but in this day and age, the typical computer user’s expectations are higher than what is being offered here. Users now are far more sophisticated and far less patient than what is being required of them as a potential donor. Sure I have suggestions noted above, but quite honestly the entire thing should be trashed and re-done. This should not be fixed. This should be replaced.
Why do I do this?
A friend asked me this weekend why I bother writing about this. I mean, this is already my fourth post on this subject. It’s crazy! I don’t work for the symphony. I have no obligation to the symphony. I have no incentive. Well – I do have an incentive, but for starters, I just can’t let go of this topic – and I won’t – because donations are key to the survival of a non-profit organization, especially to this one I love. The CSO is a non-profit organization that relies on donations for more than 2/3 of its operating budget: 70% actually, which begs the question why it would have the worst possible on-line donation process I have ever seen. No really. Ever.
Look – I love my symphony. It is so good. These musicians are fabulous and they work so hard to make sure we experience a top-notch performance each and every time we sit down to listen to them. And you know what? They have never let me down! I believe in the CSO. It’s been around for 60+ years and I want it to be here for another 60+ years! This is important. The online donation process is important! That’s how people give money now.
As for my incentive, I want to make sure I can still hear live classical music in my town when I’m 60. If they can’t raise money, great musical organizations like the CSO and Opera Columbus will go away. I mean, it’s sad to think that some people think they already have!
I’ve already renewed my season tickets and now that individual tickets are on sale, I can get a few extra for two more Mozart concerts and the Dvorak Cello Concerto by a cellist I’m told I’d be a fool to miss! Maybe I’ll even go to the Respighi, simply because it’s a lot of fun to say Trittico Botticelliani.
But the real reason I write about this topic? The real reason I dwell on this? It is the sheer absurdity of this whole process. Truly. Why would an organization, whose very existence depends upon the generosity of financial donors, deliberately force them to endure such a long, seemingly farcical, process?
Money from the casual donor is just as useful as money from one as determined as I.
Come on, CSO. You have just got to get your online donations out of Ticketmaster. I will go ahead and pay my 40% extra for a ticket (Yes – a $20 ticket = $28.65 in Ticketmaster speak), but you are shooting yourself in the foot by using Ticketmaster for donations. You have a great opportunity here. I really hope you’ll take it.
Maybe if I write about it enough, people will eventually get curious and check it out for themselves to realize just how long a process it really is. My guess is that the majority of them won’t have the stamina necessary to stick it out for all 19 or so steps.
Think about it. To what organization would you be more likely to donate? One that lets you donate inside of 2-3 clicks like those I cited last month?
Or one that requires an instruction manual?
Update Aug 7, 2013: Opera Columbus – I mention in this post that people are unable to donate to them via the Ticketmaster route. That’s because Opera Columbus has its own online donation along the same quality as ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. I just checked it out and it took me less than five minutes to give a quick $5 donation and only that long because I grabbed screen shots. From the front page, click Support at the top. From that page, choose “Contribute Online”. Next screen is a super quick form to fill out and that’s it. Click submit and boom – donation sent. Opera Columbus is in the family. Why not use them as an example?