Non-profit organizations can ensure they get the most out of their marketing budgets with consistent use of SEO to attract potential donors online.


Non-profits and charitable organizations fill a critical role in addressing social issues and meeting the needs of our communities. However, behind the vision and goals of every non-profit are financial realities that govern spending, including marketing.

Donors need to trust that their money will go toward the cause they want to support and not get eaten up by administrative and marketing costs. That means marketers need cost-effective solutions that can build value and deliver ongoing returns.

Investing in digital advertising is a worthwhile strategy that can net significant results. According to DonorBox, non-profits can see a dollar in return for every seven cents spent online.

To get as much impact as possible from their digital marketing spending, marketers in the non-profit sector can implement strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO).

Marketing challenges faced by non-profits

Non-profits and charities often operate with frugal marketing budgets, limiting potential outreach channels. At the same time, there are many organizations competing for donations. The charity and non-profit sector in Canada alone comprises approximately 86,000 organizations.

Stakeholders expect these organizations to spend budgets wisely and use the most effective tactics and channels to reach their audiences. Yet, with limited resources and lean marketing teams, it can be difficult to generate data that shows which strategies would work best.

Many worthwhile charities and non-profits compete for funds from the same donors, which can take a toll on even the most motivated supporter. In addition, donor fatigue can cause your marketing impact to wane over time as supporters become less responsive to messaging or simply become desensitized to requests.

How SEO can power your fundraising efforts

SEO is a valuable tool for raising awareness and making your website more visible to relevant searchers. Once these visitors reach your website, you can make your case for support, drawing them in with powerful narratives and information.

That’s where SEO comes in. Increased web traffic allows you to convert visitors to donors. So, having your website show up on the first page of search results for keywords related to your cause is very valuable.

How valuable? The top result in Google’s organic search results has an average click-through rate of over 27 per cent and is 10 times more likely to be clicked than a page in the number 10 spot.

A solid SEO strategy can help align your website content with the topics and ideas people use when searching online. Then, with some targeted effort, you can build your website traffic and, over time, attract more people who are likely to convert to donors.

5 tips to improve SEO for non-profits

It’s easy to understand why SEO is essential for non-profit organizations, but it’s not always clear to marketers how to use it most effectively.

Let’s look at five tips to help you make more impact and ensure you spend your marketing dollars as effectively as possible.

1.     Target the right keywords in your content

Keywords help direct people to your website when they type related search terms into their favourite search engine. The most effective content will target keywords relevant to your organization, the communities or individuals you help, the impact you create, and what your potential donors care about.

Keyword research tools can help you compare different keywords, their popularity and how difficult it might be to have your content rank for each. That way, when people who care about your mission look for ways to get involved, they are more likely to find your organization.

2.     Invest in high-quality content

You can keep visitors on your site longer with high-quality content that matches their search intent and communicates the mission and impact of your organization.

When building out your content strategy, include well-written and easily digestible content that helps educate and inform your audience about your mission and the impact of their donations.

Valuable content is not only helpful in winning over potential donors but can also attract links from other websites, which can help improve your search rankings over time.

3.     Prioritize the user experience

Once you attract audiences to your website, you must provide an enjoyable user experience for your potential donors. User experience refers to what happens when someone visits your website and how they feel about interacting with it.

Ensure your site is easy to navigate with clear page headings and menus. Optimize images for speedy page loading, and test your site speed regularly. Make it easy for visitors to find information and take necessary actions, including reading about your organization, contacting you and donating directly from the site.

Your website should be easy to use from both desktop and mobile devices, with a responsive design that welcomes mobile visitors with a pared-down version of your site with easy click-to-call, click-to-donate functionality.

4.     Nurture a robust social media presence

Social media can be a powerful way to connect with audiences online and reach new potential donors. You can share updates, behind-the-scenes looks and even impact stories from those your organization has helped. Some platforms have built-in sharing and donation buttons to help attract fundraising dollars.

With built-in features allowing you to upload written text, images and video, you can create connections and grow your audience at a reasonably low cost. Social media doesn’t directly affect your SEO ranking, but the traffic it can attract to your site definitely can. The links you share across your social platforms raise visibility and create signals that your content is relevant to your target audience.

Each social channel offers different audiences and benefits, so look for those that best align with your target donors. You can also gain traction with paid advertising options. Social media ads may eat up a bit of your budget, but with precise targeting and built-in metrics, they can be an accessible way to advertise with limited dollars.

5.     Use local SEO to raise visibility in your area

If you have a physical location or provide services in a specific geographic region, you will likely benefit from local SEO, a marketing strategy that helps your organization be more visible in the results of Google searches by people in your area.

It can include creating a Google My Business listing to help people in your area find your organization and exploring keywords that feature your location or region.

Local SEO is powerful because searchers looking for an organization doing the work you do in your specific area often have high intent to act. Plus, you’ll benefit from Google displaying your location on Google Maps and connecting your listing to reviews and contact information.

SEO can help you stand out from other non-profit organizations, help suitable donors find and understand your mission and values, and attract a consistent traffic flow to your website. It’s a cost-effective way to maximize the impact of your marketing.

Want more insights into using SEO for your non-profit? Book a consultation with a Postmedia expert for more information.