3 Ways to Institute Behavioral Economics Website Design

by csladmin


So, your nonprofit has a website. Of course it does! But is there a proven way to make it better?

If your nonprofit is like most, you’re not exactly sure. Luckily, you’re not alone in this. Incorporating some behavioral economics design principles into your nonprofit’s website means improving your website in a data-informed way. Most nonprofits would benefit from this but most don’t know the best way to do it or how long the process might take.

Luckily, it’s far from impossible. Here’s your simple roadmap to behavioral economics and website design.

3 Smart Ways to Add Behavioral Economics Design to Your Nonprofit Website (or Landing Page)

Regardless of whether you’re a new NPO or an established organization looking to drive more business, these tips are a great place to start.

1. Make Your Potential Donors Certain of Their Decision 

While there are many ways to push people over the line when they’re deciding whether to donate or not, there is a strong effect that ranks as one of the most powerful: certainty bias.

Certainty bias states that people favor something that is certain far more (one could even say to an irrational degree) than something that is only “probable.”

When there is a potential donor–especially one that is new to your organization–deciding whether or not to donate, there are many questions running through their heads. One of the most important and likely questions that will influence their ultimate decision is, “Well, where is my money going exactly?”

Eliminate this sense of wonder! For instance, explain that a small donation of $10 will purchase one mosquito net. Or, what’s even more persuasive is if your nonprofit has the ability to tell the donor where exactly their donation will be going. For example, “For $50 you can sponsor this family in Syria.”

Give donors specific information on where exactly their donation is going to give them the certainty they need to donate to your cause.

2. Pinpoint Your Identifiable Victim 

Identifiable victim theory states that while words and images are powerful, creating an identifiable victim makes more of an impact on donors. To put this another way, people are more likely to help one single person, family, or group of animals than they are to donate to a large, expansive cause with more opaque beneficiaries.

The reason for this is simple:

Take for example a website page that says “200 cats a year will be killed. Please donate to help us save the cats ” versus “if you don’t donate today, this shelter cat will have to be put down.” The latter statement is more powerful because the visitor isn’t dealing with a vague “statistic.” They can see and understand how to help a particular victim in hardship, making them more willing to take action on their behalf.

With this in mind, identify a “victim” your cause is helping and position them or it on your website and marketing materials rather than showcasing broad statistics.

Here’s an example to consider: Ryan White was an American teenager living in Kokomo, Indiana. When he contracted HIV at the age of 13 (as the result of a blood transfusion), he battled the disease until he passed away six years later. Just after his death, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which set out to fund the country’s most expansive set of services for people affected by AIDS.

3. Utilize Endowment Effect 

The endowment effect states that people give more value to things that they own. This means not only that people pay more to keep something they already own than to purchase something they do not currently own, but also that people are hesitant to trade one good for another, even if the second good has the same value as the first.

The odd effects of this are present in a famous study, which was conducted by Daniel Kahneman, Jack Knetsch, & Richard Thaler. In this study, participants were given a mug and then offered the opportunity to sell or trade the mug for a pen of equal financial value. Interestingly, the participants who chose to trade the object that was already in their ownership (regardless of whether it was a pen or a mug) perceived the item they already owned as worth twice the amount they were willing to pay when they first received the object.

People who are emotionally involved in your nonprofit are less likely to leave. Consider creating a “donors club” for those who have donated over the past three years. Allowing membership to the donors club in return for donations invites the donors to have a stake in the organization.

Membership in the club could include the opportunity for donors to log into a “donors only” section of your website to learn more about the stories of those who have benefited from the donors club’s donations, creating an “emotional investment” in your nonprofit and presenting donors with a heightened sense of value for your organization.

Behavioral Economics Website Design: Create More Profitable Campaigns 

While designing your nonprofit’s website (or landing page) can feel like a huge amount of guesswork, these three simple tenets of behavioral economics design can help. By implementing each accordingly, you can create a high-converting landing page that works to drive donations, get your campaigns shared, and promote engagement with your customers.

Need some additional help on your landing pages or your nonprofit’s website? Contact the team at Creative Science today!


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