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How We Build an Accessible Fundraising Platform

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Michael Todd

Front-End Developer

At DonorDrive, accessibility isn’t simply a matter of compliance. It’s a matter of equity.

Consider the mother giving to her daughter's personal campaign despite the arthritis that makes it painful to hold her mouse. The team captain living with multiple sclerosis and blurred vision, hoping to outraise a previous year’s total. The disabled American veteran, a triple amputee, who wants to ask friends and family to donate.

These are just a few snapshots of fundraisers and donors who may face website-usage barriers that slow them down. It’s our job to build barrier-free experiences while on our DonorDrive client websites, and we do it because everyone in your diverse supporter base deserves a frustration-free experience while supporting your mission.

To demonstrate how we create an accessible platform, here's a look at guidelines we follow, help we enlisted to strengthen our product, improvements we've made, and our commitment to a continued focus on making DonorDrive easy to use for all.

A Shared Set of Guidelines

The goal to serve people, not precedents, is an ethos shared by many in our industry, but we do recognize the legal pressures that can ultimately force nonprofits to seek more accessible platforms sooner rather than later.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't specifically touch upon digital accessibility, courts often interpret the law as applying to web-based content and services. In fact, the number of lawsuits has been steadily increasing over the past few years. In 2017, 814 lawsuits were filed in federal court based on Title III of ADA. In 2021, that number had increased to 2,895.

But if the ADA says nothing about digital accessibility, whose rules do we follow? Look no further than the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), founded and currently led by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. Since the early days of the web, conscientious designers and developers on behalf of the W3C have been iterating a set of standards called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

These guidelines break down, point-by-point, the ways in which nonconformant websites can hinder a user's experience. The recommendations also lay out how we can fix issues and take the time to avoid building those hindrances into new features.

The Help We Enlisted

Our team at DonorDrive has always kept our diverse user base in mind while building our product. In recent years, though, we wanted to start formally integrating accessibility in all facets of DonorDrive. To help us join together as a team on this shared goal, we partnered with Fable, a leading accessibility platform.

Through multiple rounds of tests in 2021 and 2022, we heard directly from people with disabilities how they use assistive technologies like Voice Control and the NVDA screen reader to perform actions like registering for and donating to events. This kind of user testing gave us in-depth, real-life perspectives to identify with, and guided how we prioritized changes.

We discovered areas of improvement both technically and holistically by walking through common user flows such as a fundraiser asking for donations or a team captain customizing their team's fundraising page. Assistive technologies tested by our users include:

  • OS Magnification
  • Voice Control
  • JAWS screen reader
  • NVDA screen reader
  • VoiceOver screen reader

Improvements We've Made

We've been training our staff to proactively code to prevent accessibility issues when we're building new features and designs. Our design and front-end development staff all participate in accessibility courses. We've implemented new steps in our development processes and given our clients new tools to create accessible content.

As part of this effort, we've released hundreds of product updates over the last two years to improve accessibility across DonorDrive.

Most importantly, we've cultivated a culture that seeks to create a more welcoming product. We've increased color contrasts, provided alt text to describe images, added keyboard-only user shortcuts, and removed timeouts during important user flows. These and many other large and small changes are most certainly worth celebrating.

Our Commitment to Accessibility

The work of building an accessible product is never done. Through better quality assurance processes, more specialized user testing, and our efforts to certify our teams, we commit ourselves to keeping accessibility top of mind.

If your organization uses DonorDrive, it's our hope that you also understand the importance of accessibility and push for initiatives that further educate your organization’s team on how to create accessible content. If you're considering switching fundraising platforms, we encourage you to rank accessibility high among the many competing factors that comprise a strong fundraising platform.

To begin the conversation about accessibility with existing or potential partners, here are three crucial questions to ask:

  1. Have people with disabilities tested critical user flows like donation and registration?
  2. Which assistive technologies does your internal QA team use to test new features?
  3. What is one improvement you've recently released that benefits disabled users?

Ultimately, it's important to remember: A focus on accessibility improves the experience for all users, and shows your partners care about your supporters as much as you do.

Want to learn more about accessibility at DonorDrive? Let's talk!