Localized Fundraising: It’s Complicated. And Awesome.

To date most of Mozilla’s individual donors have been from English-speaking locales (United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain; etc.). That doesn’t reflect Mozilla’s community, which is truly global. I knew we could find new donors that want to support us if we could just speak their language. The trouble with localization is that it is incredibly labor-intensive. In the case of a fundraising campaign, the entire donation funnel has to be translated. Here is an example of the steps in a donation user flow and the list of text elements that require translation:

(Don’t know what the “snippet” is? Find out here.)

There’s really no decent technological solution for quality translation, at least not yet. Google Translate and other programs are clunky at best, and produce offensive results at worst. It takes humans to get it right … lots of humans.

The localization project at Mozilla – known as L10Nhas lots of humans. It is astounding in its scope and efficiency. There are L10N teams all over the world. Team members are mostly volunteers who translate Mozilla’s products, such as Firefox, into more than 90 languages.

L10N is an exceptional resource perhaps unmatched in the world. Needless to say, I was very excited to learn that I could ask L10N teams for help translating our year-end campaign elements into a few languages.

I decided to focus our precious limited translation and code development resources where most of our donations come from outside of English-speaking countries: Portuguese (Brazil), German, and French.

I want to state outright that this effort was imperfect. The user experience for localized donors is something I would love to have more resources to optimize – we basically did an okay job this first time out, and we learned a lot.

As an example, the main elements of the Portuguese funnel look like this:

Snippet in Portuguese (BR)





Donation form: Portuguese (BR)

Donation form: Portuguese (BR)


Confirmation thank you page: Protuguese (BR)

Confirmation thank you page: Portuguese (BR)

You can also view the German Donation Form and the French Donation Form.

Some things we did, some stuff we learned:
  • We purposefully removed the email newsletter signup on localized forms, since Mozilla doesn’t translate emails sent to donors throughout the year. (We unfortunately don’t have the resources to do so.)
  • One issue I didn’t anticipate is that once translated, some of our field-names ended up too long for the allotted field spaceā€¦ which required recoding some form elements on the back-end.
  • Building a drop-down menu of 100+ countries in three languages was labor-intensive. “Country” is a required field on our donation forms.
  • The radio-button list of gift amounts on the donation form presented unique challenges. We opted to keep the gift amounts in US dollars, though ideally we should localize the currency and amounts – hopefully next time.
  • We had to state more explicitly that donations to Mozilla are only tax-deductible in the U.S..
  • Different countries have vastly different payment method preferences. In Indonesia for instance, it is common to make a donation and charge it to your mobile carrier bill. In other locales, wire transfer is common. In Germany, PayPal is quite popular. We determined that PayPal and credit card would likely work fine for the three locales we included in this beta project. (This topic could be an entire blog by itself.)
  • I originally asked L10N to translate one snippet variant, but I had to go back and ask them to translate a different snippet that was converting better. L10N teams are incredible, but they aren’t accustomed to translating “on the fly” in response to testing results. They understandably require a good amount of lead-time. Though thankfully they graciously responded to the request quite quickly.
  • Some details we simply couldn’t get to due to time and resource constraints. For instance, you can see on the Portuguese confirmation page above that the bottom navigation buttons were not translated. These details do matter and impact the user experience. I want to get them right next time.

Thanks to the work of L10N, we are for the first time expanding Mozilla’s year-end fundraising campaign further out into the world where Mozilla supporters live. As I mentioned in my previous post, 50% of donations to the campaign to date have come from 137 countries. Revenue from the three localized donation forms make up a significant portion of that – a total of $54,240. The breakdown looks like this at the moment:

  • Portuguese (BR): $6,182
  • French: $17,641
  • German: $30,417

And there are still 23 days to go.