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?!
To quote Lisa Hirsch, author of the Iron Tongue of Midnight,
Make it as easy as possibly for people to give you their money.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Number of steps required to make an online donation to local arts organizations here in Columbus:
- Opera Columbus: 5
- ProMusica Chamber Orchestra: 5
- Columbus Symphony Orchestra: 20 (More if you have to set up an account and more if you change your mind about the amount halfway through the process.)
5 steps vs. 20-plus steps. Which seems simple to you?
Persistence, I hope, pays off
Every month I give $5 per month to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Is it a lot? Heck no. It doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what they need in order to keep up their operating budget – 70% of which relies on donations.
Yeah. 70% of their entire budget.
I did research for this blog and after half a dozen attempts, I LEARNED how to make an online donation to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. It is unnecessarily cumbersome. Their online donation portal, simply put, is not efficient. It’s not user-friendly and puts an undo burden on the donor, who will most likely give up prior to completing the intended donation.
I’d love to see the conversion rates.
And to be quite honest – had it not been for this blog and a desire to have actually tried something I say I don’t like, I probably would not have donated. Like some CSO musicians, I gave up, too, the first few times, then the next couple of times as well because I just couldn’t figure it out. Sad thing is? I’m computer savvy – I’ve created blogs, websites, I work on computers all day long – PC at work, Mac at home…this should not be a challenge.
Why so many hoops?
Having a computer and knowing how to turn it on should be the only prerequisite to being able to make an online donation. I shouldn’t have to LEARN how to make a donation. I should only have to go to your website, click a button, fill in a few blanks and be done with it. Casual donors are going to send their money elsewhere once they discover how much is required of them up front.
As for my $5? I wish I did, but I just don’t have more to give, so I give that much. I give it because I love the music and for a non-profit organization constantly having to raise money, every little bit helps.
Imagine if the CSO/CAPA team would consider making a change from this cumbersome process to a legitimately good process?
My research on this comes from open source material. You can check it out yourself and see if you agree or disagree. Here – www.columbussymphony.com. Try to make a donation and let me know how far you get.
And how many tries it takes you to get there.
Sounds a lot like an ad for the Peace Corps, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll be surprised if this turns into the toughest job you’ll ever love, but hey – you never know!
How far would you go to make an online donation to a local arts organization?
I’ve listed three fabulous organizations below. All are worthy of both our financial support and a trip (or two) to their performances! For each one, I’ve outlined the steps needed for a donor to go from the front page of their websites to receiving a donation confirmation.
I’ve counted going to the site itself as step #1 for all.
1. Go to http://www.operacolumbus.org
2. Click “Support” to be taken to “Support” page
3. Click “Contribute online”
4. Fill out form which includes amount to donate, name, address, credit card info
5. Click “Contribute now” button
Done. Enjoy your receipt / confirmation page.
PROMUSICA CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
1. Go to http://www.promusicacolumbus.org
2. Click on “Support Us” to be taken to the “Support Us” page
3. Click “Donate Now”
4. Fill out form which includes amount to donate, name, address, credit card info
5. Click “Submit” button
Done. Enjoy your receipt / confirmation page.
COLUMBUS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
1. Go to www.columbussymphony.com
2. Click “Donate” button to be taken to “Support” page
3. Click “Online Donations” to be taken to the CAPA portal within the Ticketmaster Website
4. Type in Email address and Password. Click “Continue” button and proceed to step 5.
If you haven’t already set up an account, follow steps 4A-B-C-D
4A. Under “I don’t have an account” Type in Email address. Click “Continue” button to create account.
4B. Fill out name, address, telephone numbers, etc.
4C. Click “Continue” button to proceed to account set up confirmation page.
4D. Click “Continue” button on this page to proceed to account front page. Proceed to step 5.
5. Follow instructions advising you to scroll down and then click the “Donate Now” button
6. Select “Myself” under donor information drop down menu (Myself is the only option)
7. Check box if you wish to remain anonymous. :-)
8. Scroll down to choose and click “Columbus Symphony Orchestra” so fund option will appear
9. Click on Columbus Symphony Fund Annual Donation so amount box will appear
10. Type in amount you wish to donate
11. Click “Apply” button to make amount appear under “total donation”
12. Click “Add to cart” button to be taken to the shopping cart page
13. Review donation amount to ensure you’re donating as much as you’d like to donate.
If changing amount, follow steps 13 A-B-C. If amount is fine, move on to step 14.
13A. If you’d like to change the donation amount, click “Change donation” for a pop-up box to appear.
13B. Click “Yes” button to change your item being purchased where you to be returned to step 5.
13C. Re-do steps 5-13 using your new amount and continue
14. Click “checkout” button to be taken to page where you can enter payment information
** 10 minute time limit for processing begins now. **
15. Choose payment option in drop down menu (Credit/debit card is the only option) so form to fill out payment information will appear.
16. Enter name, address, credit card info
17. Click “Next step” button
18. Review your card info / purchase
20. Click “Submit order” button
Done. Enjoy your receipt / confirmation page.
So what do you think?
How far would you go to give your money away?
- CSO Online Donation Update: September (giocosity.com)
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?