For those of us who frequent the online world; we’ve all seen them. Those pop up ads that appear requesting visitors to “Donate Now” to the most recent disaster or humanitarian crisis. In times of financial need, we are seeing an increasing number of companies turning to various Internet advertisements in order to reach their donation goals. There are many reasons for this including the chance for the campaign to become viral by individuals sharing the donation link, it is easy to direct interested parties to more information about the cause or company, it is easy to track progress, programs like Google Analytics can help businesses see how many people visit the site versus the number of actual donations and it can reach more people as they are spending longer periods of time online in comparison to other more traditional media outlets like TV or print. Online advertisements are much more effective in reaching a greater number of members of a target market.
Initially, people show great enthusiasm for supporting relief for natural disasters or non-profits. However, many individuals explain their lack of actually going through with a contribution in part due to not trusting the websites with their credit card or banking information. Websites, blogs, and social media accounts (when it comes to donating) are viewed as biased and untrustworthy. A recent study has found that Internet surfers are more likely to trust campaigns for donations from companies they are less familiar with. Sites that compare charities to each other and show where the actual money is sent or spent is a much more enticing option in convincing people to make a donation rather than viewing an actual advertisement. Websites such as Poverty.com or Charity Navigator are much more effective in collecting the dollar donations.
So why are people hesitant to donate? The same reason why television ads are becoming less effective; viewers feel like they are not being told the entire truth. People do not enjoy feeling like companies are trying to pull a fast one on them. They want facts and they want the truth, is that too much to ask? Sometimes as it was recently determined, people like to be surprised. Present your audience with something that can’t make them turn away. Present them with a fact that makes them stop and think. Make their jaws drop with the unknown. That is the key to successful online donation campaigns.
The element of surprise is beyond important in advertising today. Individuals are bombarded with thousands of ads daily from every media outlet during all hours of the day. With all the clutter the familiar and known are being paid less attention than the new and unfamiliar. Further research will be necessary to find if these data trends will remain in the future or if it is just for now. What won’t change is the number of causes asking for support. Everyone is asking for money and will continue to do so in the future. Organizations will therefore need to catch the attention of viewers that will win both their support and their wallet.