Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on donations, and online giving has been steadily on the rise in recent years, and still trending upward according to the latest figures available from Blackbaud Index. Online giving rose by over 10% in both of the 3 month periods ending in September and October 2011, in comparison to the same time-frame in 2010. Thus, online giving is beginning to demand more attention from nonprofit leaders, and it is only picking up steam.
Optimizing web properties is largely seen to be a practice of for-profit companies as traditionally they are the parties selling a product or service. However, in terms of fundraising, nonprofits must garner support for what they provide in much the same fashion. They can leverage their brand and maximize exposure to build interest and funding. Thus, when fundraising is brought online, nonprofits can maximize their presence utilizing SEO and work to direct targeted donation traffic to their site for more giving.
A simple shift in the online strategy could do a great deal for many organizations, particularly minimizing email campaigns. Although they are reluctant to give it up, the email campaign is a stagnant model given that only .13% of emails sent result in a donation, according to the 2010 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. That is a dismal 13 donations for every 10,000 emails.
If that doesn’t spur organizations to re-evaluate their online strategy then consider this – only 26% of nonprofits self-rated their websites as very effective in a recent survey (2010 State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey). The technology is available; organizations are just not using it.
With this information, the bigger picture becomes much clearer. There is tremendous potential to not only integrate SEO into fundraising campaigns but in redeveloping nonprofits’ entire online presence. This total presence includes optimized website content and features to better achieve their goals and both inform and engage supporters. Redeveloping their online presence improves operations and returns for the organizations while also enhancing the overall experience the public and supporters have with nonprofits.
Many of the organizations that could benefit the most from integrating SEO into their online campaigns are international in nature. Whether they have offices in different countries, impact the lives of people throughout the globe, or simply have international appeal (or a combination of these), such organizations need to employ international SEO if they are to optimize their online properties. These organizations can do it themselves or partner with an expert SEO company. Nine out of the top twenty-five largest online fundraising organizations this past year served the international sector. Their target audiences undoubtedly span different countries and languages, and this reality needs to be addressed in their optimization efforts.
Different issues may in fact be more relevant to different cultures and segments of their target audience. Further, whether or not donations are tax deductible can depend on location, which can be further articulated on country specific pages. The extent to which international SEO is employed depends on the goals and mission of the organizations, but there is clear potential to maximize online giving through the application of strategic SEO.