What Nonprofits Can Learn From Top eCommerce Platforms

This post is part of a new series that looks into how the Classy product team thinks about nonprofit technology, fundraising, and industry trends in the ever-evolving nonprofit ecosystem.

What’s in a donation form? What’s in a registration process? These seem like simple questions with simple answers, but the world’s biggest and most successful eCommerce companies devote entire teams to shaving seconds off of checkout times, or to ensure they’re gathering the right information from customers.

As consumer expectations and habits evolve to accommodate a fast-paced digital world, we believe nonprofits and social enterprises need to pay attention to these trends too.

Donation Forms and the new Fundraising Suite

As we built new Registration with Fundraising, the first event to be added to the revamped Fundraising Suite, the registration and checkout flow became a major focus of optimization. The first experience a supporter has with your fundraising event is the registration and checkout flow.

We wanted to make this experience as intuitive, easy, and familiar as possible, so your organization automatically provides attendees a positive association with your event from the moment they register.

We sat down with Classy Pay product manager William Harris to learn more about how his team looks at donation forms, trends in online checkouts, and why this is important for nonprofits and their fundraising events.

Q: When you and your team were rebuilding Classy’s checkout flow, where did you draw inspiration from?

Classy is constantly looking to rework and optimize our checkout flow. Because the core functionality of a donation page is congruous to that of an eCommerce cart, we took inspiration from a number of sources, including the top eCommerce sites on the web.

Image of William Harris, Classy Product Manager

Classy is constantly looking to rework and optimize our checkout flow.

William Harris
Classy Product Manager

We also study native applications and mobile-friendly checkouts because of the amount of mobile traffic these days. We want to explore how top applications accommodate mobile phone usage, so that Classy checkouts are optimized for both mobile and desktop browsing.

A good example is Groupon. They recently made it way easier to fill out forms on mobile devices. We also studied payment provider forms from Stripe, Square, and other industry leaders.

Q: In this process, what stats, feedback, or anecdotes have surprised you?

The most interesting stats I came across are about optimizing form field entry. Making it easier to fill out forms can really increase your conversion rates.

For example, a recent study tracked Home Depot and Macy’s checkouts. These companies studied time-saving options, like entering a zip code and auto-populating the respective city and state. They created more simple ways to quickly get customers through checkout. The study found that many more users would prefer only entering their zip code. It also enabled them to check out up to 93 percent faster!

Q: What might nonprofits consider when it comes to their donation forms and that fleeting moment when they receive a gift?

One important consideration for nonprofits is the need to balance capturing donor data—like address or phone number—against the time it takes for the donor to enter those form fields.

I also think that the way that they frame the conversation at the time of the donation is incredibly important. The reward of donating is a feeling of accomplishment and generosity, which comes with knowing a gift has impacted someone or something. Organizations that can successfully frame a conversation around that reward will strengthen relationships with their supporters.

Image of William Harris, Classy Product Manager

One important consideration for nonprofits is the need to balance capturing donor data—like address or phone number—against the time it takes for the donor to enter those form fields.

William Harris
Classy Product Manager

Think of that moment of giving as a conversation with supporters, when you say, “Thanks for your gift. You’ve accomplished A from your generous donation of B. However, If you donate C, you can create D, E, and F.” It’s a way to start engaging the supporter for the long term!

Q: Why was the checkout process particularly important for Classy Events and the new Registration with Fundraising?

With checkout on an event page, specifically for Registration with Fundraising, a supporter is potentially filling out a large number of fields in order to participate in an event: waivers, T-shirt information, participant information, emergency contact information, and lots more.



This can take a lot of time, so it was important for Classy to lower friction in the final step of checking out—the payment. For this reason, we limited the number of fields on the checkout form to as few as possible, and added more intuitive fields that are easy to fill out on mobile or desktop—all of which makes the process quick and easy.

Want to learn more about donation forms and Classy? Join us at the Collaborative, where William will give a talk about increasing conversions on your donation form.  



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