home Digital, Features 3 Experience design principles that helped koala bushfire charity raise over $2 million

3 Experience design principles that helped koala bushfire charity raise over $2 million

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital started its donation page after 350 koalas perished in the devastating bush fires in Australia. Initially, the hospital hoped to raise $25,000 to be spent on building wildlife drinking stations.

Still, in less than a month, the amount has surpassed the goal by a mile, raising a staggering 2 million dollars, with 44,000 donations from over 95 countries!

So what made the Koala Hospital campaign so incredibly successful? The simplistic answer would be that koalas are super cute and an iconic symbol of Australia.

The real differentiator of the Bushfire Campaign, however, was not putting a sweet Koala or a burned Eucalyptus tree in the front, but the brilliant implementation of the THREE emerging Experience Design Principles

1. Put the Customer (the Donor) in the Centre

Put the Donor first. Not the organisation, the donation, or even the cute Koala. People expect to be treated well not only when it comes to the brands they do business with, but also when it comes to charity. It means that every single donor matters, and the donation is more than a simple transaction.

Brilliantly leveraging this principle, Koala Hospital has made each donor shine by thanking her/him in a simple and powerful way by providing a Certificate of Adoption of Koala.

Many charities say thank you – but not enough make the extra effort to delight and personalise. When you begin your letter with “Thank you on behalf of the CIO, staff and all those that are benefitting as a result of your generosity ...,” you put the Donor to sleep.

A koala’s personalised Certificate of Adoption provides a memorable and engaging interaction. It made my daughter feel special. It gave her something tangible and lasting that will serve as a constant reminder for the appreciation

2. Winning donor’s trust

There is growing skepticism among consumers following several charity funding scandals. Most people wonder how their money will make a difference. More than 80 percent of Australians said it was vital for them to know the outcomes of their charitable donations before donating. 

Koala Hospital is focused on answering just that. It’s giving donors the confidence of knowing that every dollar they donated will directly benefit a specific koala and help to ‘cure Anwens burned feet.’ To win the Donor’s trust, the Koala Hospital put in place a brilliant digital engagement strategy, which includes providing frequent updates around the saving efforts and sharing heartbreaking visuals.

3. The power of personalisation

In today’s high-tech world, personal touch is often missing in customer engagements. Not only customers but donors as well, feel that most of the time they are just an account number. However, people crave a personal touch. According to Google Trends, searches for “personalised” goods and experiences have grown by over 60% in the past two years.

Personalising donors online experience will make them feel your charity is making an effort to know them as individuals. More personalised donor experiences can result not only in higher satisfaction but also in potentially higher levels of giving.

Think creatively – building expensive and elaborate machine learning campaigns, based on the advanced CRM data is not always necessary. In the Koala Hospital campaign example, personalisation was achieved by a simple, but efficient technique.

Design the donor journey

The Hospital gets the experience right by walking each user through 3 simple steps in the Donation journey.

Step 1 – Strong and Clear ASK

A well-optimised homepage is a key to the conversion rate. In its simplest form, it should highlight the cause and inspire action. Koala Hospital page doing a great job at explaining their mission and providing the clear “ASK” – you can ‘adopt a koala,’ donate to the Hospital or plant a eucalyptus to feed a koala. 

Step 2 – Keep emotional engagement through the journey

Many donation websites become very ‘operational’ when landing at an actual donation form. It feels like ‘let’s close the deal and get it done.’ Koala Hospital, on the contrary, delights it’s donors by keeping emotional engagement and leading the Donor through the empathy path all along the way.

It leverages an identifiable victim effect– people are more willing to provide aid to a single individual with a name and a face than to an anonymous group of victims. The effect is achievable by the use of an Engaging Storytelling technique, which means wrapping the message into a story. 

Each koala has it’s own rescue story. All stories are written in a simple, warm, humane language that can be easily understood by both kids and adults.

Stories put names and faces to the victims much better than charts and figures. Storytelling allows the donor to engage with a koala on a much deeper level and makes the experience more memorable and real. It allowed my daughters to connect to the victim, not just with their eyes but with their hearts.

Step 3- Seamless Donation Process

At the payment stage, Donor’s journey is frictionless and easy. Koala Hospital creatively uses a couple of technics to eliminate frictions:

  • Suggested Donation Amounts – you can choose to pay 40 or 70 dollars, which helps you to ease the burden of cognitive overload, especially if you are engaging with kids
  • Offer Pay Pal. According to Parachute Digital 2019 research, only half of the charity organizations in Australia now offer PayPal as a payment method for one-off donation (and only 27 for RG). Therefore, most of the organizations are missing out on an opportunity to make it easy for consumers to enter their information and thus get more transactions completed.

At the payment stage, we also have to be mindful of the growing security concerns among users. Visual clues, like Trust seal (eWAY) used by the Koala Hospital, have proved effective at increasing the perceived level of security and making the donor feel the information is safe.

Why going digital is a matter of life or death to charities?

Charity organisations play a fantastic role in our society and make a vital contribution to the environment, economic, and social sectors of Australia. However, they operate in a very competitive market. There are 54,000 charities and not-for-profits operating in Australia, from niche to large organisations.

By understanding their core audience, leveraging customer experience principles, and harnessing emerging technologies, charities can ensure the success of their missions. The donations raised for the Koala Hospital means a new wild koala breeding program can be initiated, a ‘Koala Ark’ facility built to accommodate surviving koalas and more drinking stations can be established.

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Ayelet Mendel-Girin

Australia Customer & Partner Experience Manager at Microsoft. Using CX/UX Research & Innovation to delight People around the world