Nonprofit Website SEO Tips

Here is a helpful article by SEO Copywriter/Consultant, Scott Salwolke, who has spent 20 years assisting charities and non-profit agencies about Nonprofit Website SEO.

Few organizations would benefit more from search engine marketing than charities. And yet most agencies still seem content with simply having a website. They don’t seem to realize the potential a successfully optimized web site can mean to their revenue stream.

How To Attract More Donations

Consider two of the most recognized charities in the world Care, and UNICEF. If you type in charity, these sites are nowhere to be found on Google. Not just on the first page, but not even the first three pages. And yet, there are as many as 100,000 searches every month using this word.

What about charitable donations, a phrase that was especially popular during tax time? Again these two organizations are nowhere to be found.

Yet, these charities have more than just name recognition going for them. Both UNICEF and Care have a PageRank of 8. And UNICEF has over 1900 links to its site and Care has close to 500. There is no reason these two sites aren’t on the first page of any word related to charity.

Look at these sites and it’s easy to see why they don’t rank higher. They simply haven’t been optimized. The sites provide more photographs then text. And the text often fails to include the necessary keywords potential donors would use. Their title tags focus on their name and their Meta tags seldom use the word charity or donation.

While keywords are no longer a factor in search engine ranking, they do reveal an organization’s point of emphasis. Examine UNICEF’s keywords and you find child rights, children’s rights, programmes, emergency operations, supply, research, research and evaluation, development, human rights, women, UNICEF, Unicef, United Nations, kids, humanitarian, immunization. No mention of charity or donations.

And on the link bar along the top, there is also no mention of donations. Only at the bottom of the page is there a button for donations. Yet, shouldn’t the entire site’s objective be both to educate and to raise funds.

How Nonprofits Can Benefit from SEO

Because of UNICEF’s name recognition, they can perhaps get away with ignoring search engine marketing. Smaller charities don’t have such a luxury. They need to focus on raising funds or generating attention to their services.

Go to Google or Yahoo and type a city and the word charities. Or non-profit agencies. Most likely the only local charities will be those associated with the Catholic Church or aren’t charities at all. On the first two pages of Chicago charity one can find listings for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Auto Show, and the Chicago Sports and Social Club.

Where are the organizations that assist people with disabilities? Or facilities that work with battered women? Couldn’t these organizations benefit from the attention?

And certainly charities could use the money more exposure would bring them. Especially if it helps lower the overall costs of obtaining donations. By some estimates one dollar out of five donated to a non-profit agency goes toward raising money. A web site would be a more cost-effective outlet. Once a site is online there is little in the way of future expenses.

That charities pay little heed to their website is evident by their appearance. Most often a local charity will develop its own site. Certainly hiring a search engine marketing firm may be too costly. Yet, many smaller agencies and SEO copywriters offer a discount for charitable organizations. In fact, SEO books are offered free to non-profit agencies.

An amateurish site not only fails to instill confidence in visitors who might be inclined to make a donation. It also lacks the keywords that will attract the attention of search engines.

Search engines like text, while potential donors are often motivated by stories. Most agencies have some story of how they’ve impacted a life. Or a cause they’re trying to motivate people to support that will improve the planet or save a species.

And sprinkled throughout these case studies should be the keywords prospects are using. And if the contributions accepted include cars or something other than money, then emphasize these words as well. And the tax advantages.

And it’s not just words charities need to incorporate onto their site. It’s links. Often charities have an advantage in getting links to their site other companies would be envious of. They just don’t realize it.

Many businesses list the charities they support on their website to show their philanthropic activities. Or they’re mentioned in the biography of a CEO because that person is an honorary member of the charities board of director. Why not obtain links from the Chicago Blackhawks, or the Chicago Sports and Social club if they’re benefiting your cause.

It wouldn’t take much to turn these references into valuable links with the charities sites.

It’s not just organic ranking which can increase contributions. Pay per click campaigns could be another revenue source.

If you’re a small charity, you might be put off by the high cost to bid on the words charity or charitable contributions. Bids get as high as $5.00 for the latter on Yahoo, so this isn’t really cost-effective. Instead bid on words that might suddenly be newsworthy.

Whenever there is a tragedy such as Hurricane Katrina, there are hundreds of thousands of searches for stories on the disaster in a single month. If a charity is aiding victims in such an event then why not bid on this phrase. Often these phrases can be purchased for as little as a dime.

A carefully crafted landing page will show how an organization is benefiting the people that have been impacted. This page will transfer a reader’s interest in a disaster into a desire to assist.

Few businesses would turn away funds. And with government funding cuts donations take on an even greater importance.

So search engine marketing must become a part of every charities donation drive. In fact, in the future it could be the leading source for fundraising.

About The Author

SEO Copywriter/Consultant Scott Salwolke has spent 20 years assisting charities and non-profit agencies. His website is at