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(not so) Extreme Nonprofit Forms Makeover

Have you ever watched Extreme Makeover?

In one TV hour, someone loses 150 pounds, becomes fit as an athlete, has plastic surgery, gets a new wardrobe, and a new haircut that makes them nearly unrecognizable.

You watch and think, sure, if I had $100,000 and didn't have to go to work for the next 6 months, I could probably afford to undergo such extreme a makeover. But I don't have $100,000.

Then you have the Today Show makeover, where a random person comes in live from the plaza, and in a real-time hour, they get a new look with better hair, makeup and clothes. No plastic surgery, no exercise, but enough that they feel good and people notice and say "You look great! It was about time you changed that haircut you've had for the past 15 years!"

That makeover probably runs about $700 and yet it still has an enormous impact on how people see you - younger, fresher, and more beautiful.

Ready for a forms makeover?

This leads to me to your donation forms. New websites can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. But new forms don't.

Today all of Wounded Warrior Project's digital fundraising takes place on the CharityEngine platform. But our very first project for them was because they wanted to have a donation form that played video and their vendor at the time quoted them a price in the thousands. Someone there knew us and asked us the price. We said "It's about $150".

So they hired us for the job and eventually moved over entirely onto our platform.

I've said this time and again, but I am amazed by how boring nonprofits make their donation forms. You are asking people for money and giving them NOTHING other than good karma in return. The least you can do is make it fun for them to part with their money so they get something out of it.

For Adopt-a-Pet.com, it was as simple as adding puppy paws to the form headers.

For Culture of Respect, it was taking their off the shelf e-commerce form and making it unique by have the form run horizontally.

For Special Olympics Maryland, it was adding pictures and infographics (as you see on the right).

For the Las Vegas Veterans Memorial, it was having people create virtual bricks for their brick campaign.

Forms matter. And if your donation platform only gives you boring stock forms, then it needs to do more. If your donation platform can give you more interesting forms but will charge you far too much for it, then explore new options.

Forms matter to us. So we help our clients do creative things with them. Not just $100,000 Extreme Makeover things. But $750 "Did you do something different? You look so young and beautiful!" things.

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Author: Leigh Kessler is VP of Marketing for CharityEngine. In addition to being an expert on branding, he is a former stand-up comedian and TV personality seen on shows like VH1's "Best Week Ever" and CNN's "Showbiz Tonight".


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