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Doubling donations through matching

Usability testing

Content testing


Charitable Impact is a platform that connects donors with charities. Sometimes, organizations or large donors offer donation matching to boost fundraising for a charity or group they want to support. How does the presence of matching affect how much donors choose to give, and what are the implications of that behaviour on our design choices?

The Challenge

Hand Drawing

It's common knowledge in the charity sector that donation matching incentivizes donors to increase their gift amounts. Donors are heavily influenced by opportunities to maximize their giving. Therefore, it's very important that donors know when it's available and understand its' parameters and constraints.

Anecdotal evidence from our customer support team showed that users found matching on our platform confusing. Because of this feedback, it was important to do a thorough exploration on our matching flow. Our aim was to identify users' most prominent pain points, which would then inform which solutions could be most effective.

The Solution

After multiple rounds of usability testing, I made three key recommendations that helped improve the finalized design:

  • Adding information about matching during all steps of the giving process

  • Placing matching indicators within users’ line of sight to combat inattentional blindness

  • Simplifying the way we explained matching

Method used

I decided to use remote, unmoderated user testing to uncover pain points in the donation matching flow. I decided on this method because:

  • Testing on non-users removes some level of bias and expertise with using Charitable Impact. Because I was testing for general usability and comprehension, I wanted fresh eyes.

  • There were constraints with time and budget that I needed to work within, and unmoderated testing allowed me to quickly test multiple iterations of the proposed design.

I tested on 4 different designs, with 49 participants overall. I used UserTesting for recruiting, and used an Invision prototype. This took about one month total, including time the designer and content strategist I collaborated with spent tweaking the design.


Adding information about matching during all steps of the giving process

In previous prototypes, matching was only mentioned at the start and end of our giving flow. Usability testing showed that some users were completely missing the indicator at the start (a banner with key information on what matching balance was available and details of the matching policy).


Finding out that their gift would be matched at the very end (when reviewing transaction details) was a bad experience for users, and a missed opportunity for Charitable Impact. Many users said they would have increased their donation amount if they knew about the matching amount at an earlier stage.

Because of this, I recommended that we add an indicator that would appear as soon as a user typed in their donation amount.



Placing matching indicators within users’ line of sight to combat inattentional blindness

Originally, we used an indicator placed to the side of the flow to provide all the necessary information on matching. 


However, I found that many users were still bypassing the indicator completely. Some users chose not to read the indicator, while many others didn't even notice it was there!

Many users mentioned not noticing the indicator due to being "so focused on their goal." To me, this pointed to a well-known cognitive bias called inattentional blindness.

Inattentional Blindness 


"When we focus closely on one thing, we often fail to see other things in plain sight"

Scholarpedia defines Inattentional Blindness as "the failure to notice a fully-visible, but unexpected object because attention was engaged on another task, event, or object."

Because users were so focused on completing their goal (i.e. inputting the details of their donation) many did not notice the big, colourful banner with important information.

Some users also commented that the banner looked like an advertisement due to its placement on the right side of the page.

In the final iteration, we placed the indicator directly within users' line of vision.


Simplifying the way we explain matching


Because so many users were bypassing the initial banner (which, no matter how eye-catching we made it, was inevitable. As researchers love to say: users don't read), we needed to include ways for users to find more information on the matching policy at many different points of the giving flow. 

Also, there were a few complex cases we needed to consider, such as 'what happens when matching funds are running low, and there isn't enough in the balance to cover someone's entire donation'? With specific cases like that, it became even more important to effectively communicate the matching policy.

I made sure to test for comprehension of matching policy. Users really liked when they had the ability to ‘find out more’ by hovering over an icon, or clicking on a link that brought a pop-up. They didn’t want to be taken away from their current task/page, so finding out more info in a quick, easy pop-up window was something users appreciated. They also liked having a visual ‘progress bar’ that could help them understand how much funds were left in the matching fund.



The recommendations I made were based on quantitative results from testing, enriched by qualitative data. Having a mix of both types of data increased my confidence in the recommendations I was making. 

If I could change anything from this process, I would have the chance to test this flow in mobile view. Because I ended up testing 4 different designs for desktop view, it cut into the time I would have had testing mobile view. I anticipate that similar principles of attention apply to mobile view, but the way the information is presented would be different on mobile.

The Result

This design was used to improve the matching flow our web and mobile applications. It has successfully facilitated multiple matching campaigns, including one worth $159K total. 

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