Nonprofits not capturing as many donations online as they could

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People would be willing to give more money to charities via online donations if it were easier for them to find crucial information, according to a new study from user-experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group.

"We uncovered several donation killers that caused some of the charities to lose out," said usability expert Jakob Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman Group, in a statement. "Were they to fix these turn-off factors, we estimate that they could easily double donations."

Nielsen Norman Group studied 23 nonprofit Web sites and observed test subjects choosing a recipient and making a donation.

The information most users sought first was an understanding of the organizations' goals and objectives. However, only 43% of the Web sites studied put their mission on their homepage, and only 4% stated on the homepage where the donor's money would be applied. This information was often provided inside the Web site, but users had trouble finding it, and this affected their donation decisions.

Other turn-off factors included poor page design for 47% of the Web sites and unclear content for 53%. In 17% of the cases, users simply could not find where to donate.

"To get donations flowing in, nonprofits would be well advised to communicate more clearly and answer donors' main questions on their Web site's homepage," said Janelle Estes, Nielsen Norman Group user experience specialist and co-author of the research report.

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