Introducing Chariot Components
This week, Chariot unveiled its biggest product release yet, introducing a suite of technical components that nonprofits can easily deploy across fundraising channels to get more DAF donors and dollars.
Chariot is much more than just a DAF payment option, but what are all the different ways a nonprofit can now leverage Chariot? We sat down with Drew Schneider, Chariot Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, to talk through the significance of Chariot Components and the most impactful upgrades to a nonprofit’s and a donor’s experience with DAF giving.
Q: Can you remind us where Chariot’s product started and how the latest release of Chariot Components complements or adds to the original product?
Drew: At its core, Chariot is a payment option for a donor to be able to give from their Donor-Advised Fund outside of their DAF-platform. Practically speaking, that means using their DAF at checkout whenever they donate online - not having to go back into their DAF portal, find the organization, etc.
Our first step was to build that payment option that could integrate with any and all DAF providers to create a seamless DAF giving experience at the moment of inspiration. Chariot Components is all about the ways our payment option can be best deployed in every digital giving situation.
Q: What are the digital giving situations that you’re addressing with Chariot Components?
Drew: Let’s start by walking through the 3 elements of Chariot Components that any Chariot customer will see on their user dashboard.
1. Express Checkout
Check out Chariot’s Express Checkout in action on Ruth Bancroft Garden
Express Checkout is a small DAF Payment button that can be embedded into any part of your website with a few lines of HTML code. When a donor clicks on the Express Checkout button, it launches Chariot’s modal (without any redirect to a new page or tab) and the donor will have a seamless 3-click DAF donation experience directly on your website.
The Express Checkout button is most effective on a donation form next to other payment options (PayPal, ApplePay, etc.) to make it clear to donors that they can use their DAF just like they would a credit card.
The Chariot Tile is our newest product launch, replacing our original “i-frame”, which nonprofits used as an independent DAF giving experience in places like their “Ways to Give” page. The Tile offers prepopulated context on DAF giving & how Chariot works within the widget that sits seamlessly in your website. You can also easily customize design elements of the Tile to adhere to your organization’s branding guidelines.
Since DAF giving on a nonprofit’s website is a new experience to many donors today, the Tile’s standardized explanation of DAF giving through Chariot & optimized user interface results in:
Nonprofit staff spending less time hand-holding DAF donors to ensure they use Chariot on the organization’s website
Donors spending less time to make their DAF gifts, resulting in higher conversion
It’s also important to note that the Tile is typically deployed in conjunction with an Express Checkout button on the core donation form, putting easy DAF giving in front of any and all potential DAF donors.
3. Weblink & QR Code
Whether in a newsletter or at a live event, being able to link a donor to your dedicated Chariot DAF giving form is a huge asset in securing more DAF donations. For any Chariot customer, we can generate a Chariot-hosted webpage exclusively for DAF donations to your organization than can be linked to with a unique URL (best for email newsletters, social media, etc.) or a unique QR code (best for a table handout at a gala, or an insert in a direct mail appeal, etc.).
Q: Why did you decide to focus on your most recent product enhancements first in what I’m sure is a very full backlog of potential new features?
Drew: Specifically with the Tile, which is the most substantial change as part of the components roll out, it was actually pretty obvious for us to prioritize. As customers began using Chariot, we saw that the organizations that placed our components in the right way, with the right explanation on their website, saw outsized success.
We wanted to make sure the appropriate context, explanation and optimized UI was fully baked into the product so that all of our customers were automatically set up for success and didn’t need to put in any extra effort. Time and bandwidth is a scarce resource on most of the teams running nonprofit organizations!
Q: As the product lead, how are you gathering the insights needed to make these prioritization calls?
Drew: I’m just constantly talking to users - not only nonprofit staff that are implementing Chariot and tracking their DAF donations, but also dozens of DAF holders from across the country. On both sides, I get insights from people that have already used Chariot or have never heard of it. This combination allows us to fix more obvious blockers that users are facing today and see several steps ahead to what the most compelling opportunities will be in the future.
Q: What have been some of the most surprising things you’ve heard from DAF donors in those conversations?
Drew: I honestly love DAF donor conversations. It’s a group of donors that seems to be pretty shrouded in mystery to a lot of nonprofit fundraisers and the reality is they’re just highly intentional philanthropists that have the same goals as the nonprofits they’re donating too. They just want the process of getting their donation to the nonprofit to be as easy as possible - and when it isn’t, they end up making a smaller donation with their credit card because of barriers to using their DAF (big and small barriers - they all matter when evaluating user experience and conversion!)
Not only does this result in smaller donations, it also leaves the nonprofit in the dark about that donor having a DAF. Then they can’t properly steward them as the high potential donor they really are.
Some interesting examples of this that I’ve seen in action:
Donors complaining about the extra communications requires to find or confirm checks going form their DAF to a nonprofit
Minimum donation size at a DAF (Some as high as $500) preventing more frequent usage
Folks typically start a DAF for the tax benefits, but as they start using them begin to appreciate more and more as a great avenue for intentional philanthropy
Q: What are some of your biggest priorities for future product roll outs?
Drew: This is what gets me excited to get out of bed every morning! There’s so many great things coming down the pike for Chariot that move even further beyond DAF grant initiation which we specialize in today. We want to revolutionize the DAF giving process with an end-to-end solution that moves billions more to nonprofits from DAFs.
We are working on ways to improve DAF fundraising processes at every level for nonprofits. That includes things like electronic grant disbursement (no more checks please!), invoices for DAF planned gifts, recurring DAF gifts, succession planning for DAF accounts, automatically cleaning up incorrect addresses and contact information at DAF platforms, the list goes on.
We also think there are a ton of opportunities to more deeply engage with DAF donors to improve their experience to ultimately disburse more funds, to more nonprofits, more often. We’ll have our hands full in the near term, but the team is incredibly excited and hopefully we’ll have another major product update to discuss on the blog here soon.