CXperts are dedicated to helping nonprofits improve their digital customer experience. We've worked with many nonprofit organizations – big and small and across the spectrum of digital maturity – helping them increase web visits, site performance, and conversions, and we're sharing what we know so that you can benefit too.
Quick Disclaimer: all the information below is subject to change and we recommend connecting with the appropriate providers for the most up-to-date information.
There are only three things in life you can count on: death, taxes, and Google. The search engine behemoth also known as Alphabet (but honestly, who calls them that?) dominates the search engine space, with nearly 9 in 10 searches happening on Google (source: Statista 2021). Knowing that this experience needs to be relevant and useful to both parties, Google has some free platforms out there to help business improve their digital visibility. Plus they have an offering for nonprofit organizations that is a must-have for most NPOs.
Before we start handing out tools and tips and what not, let's take a big step back to talk basics: when someone enters in a search term into Google and it spits out a page of links, that's called a Search Engine Results Page (or SERP for short). There are three main areas of the SERP that each of the following tools will have an effect:
One of the most fundamental tools that you can use to help customize and improve your search presence is Google Search Console. This free tool by Google gives you access to what search terms are driving organic visits to your site and alerts if there are issues with your site being tracked by Google.
In addition to having a solid presence in the organic listing, i.e. where Google displays regular search content, there are information boxes - or "knowledge cards" - that often appear on highly relevant terms, including business names and locations (see 02 in the above picture). You can control this and include your location, hours of operation, and other helpful information for your customers – on and off-line.
Google My Business will require validation via a postcard to confirm your physical address, and this process may take a week or two to get to you and verify.
This unique offering from Google is one of the most powerful digital tools you can use in your arsenal as it gives you free and robust access to Google Search presence by providing your eligible and verified nonprofit with $10,000 USD of in-kind advertising every month for text ads. The Ad Grant is not available to:
Note that this is for the sponsored links area and text-based ads only, i.e. no sponsored images (see 03 in the above picture). Also know that depending on your nonprofit and the keywords that your audiences are using, this may have limited exposure. Last and final note: getting the Google Ad Grant is fairly straightforward but the Google Ad platform is a pretty complex beast. You may want to consult with a digital marketing professional once the grant is approved to find out how to best create, manage, and optimize your ad campaigns.
Many nonprofits are hyper-focused on raising funds, but sometimes saving on fees and services is just as valuable. There's nothing more heartbreaking to a nonprofit manager or Executive Director to hear that you've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in credit card processing fees or other charges. Let's change that.
One of our favorite PayPal programs is the PayPal Giving Fund that covers the cost of all credit card processing for your nonprofit's donations through this portal, so that $500 donation isn't carved up and cleaved apart– you get $500. Plus, they handle all the proper charitable donation tax forms so it doesn't just save you money but saves you time.
There are many choices out there for merchant services – one of which is Stripe, which integrates into many other platforms and services to allow for secure and fast credit card processing. On top of this, Stripe offers discounted processing fees for approved nonprofits – you'll need to have your EIN, determination letters, and a few other things handy, but it's worth the ask.
Once you have people finding you on search and you've smoothed out or removed some of those pesky-but-necessary credit card processing fees, it might be time to activate some platforms that let you increase your audience and therefore charitable giving.
This is one of our favorite platforms as this gives your super fans and friends some resources to help spread your message father and further than you could dream. Give Lively is a totally free platform that lets you create text-to-donate codes (like "text 'RDPSD' to 44-321 to start your donation") and allows your network to create Campaign Pages so they can do their own fundraiser campaigns on your behalf. There are also leaderboards and lots of other features – all free AND user friendly. And it integrates with Stripe so that discount just increased its impact.
Email is one of the best ways to continue to engage with your donors, volunteers, and audience at large and Mailchimp is an email and marketing automation platform to help you do just that. Like Stripe, there are many choices out there for these services, and like Stripe it offers a 10% discount for approved nonprofits (just have your EIN and nonprofit determination letters at the ready). Although this may be a callout for Mailchimp specifically, consider this a note for most digital platforms that you might be using: do a quick search or reach out to their team to see if they offer nonprofit pricing. It's worth it to ask since a low-effort email or call can give you big benefits downstream.
Once you've supercharged your search presence on Google and are driving visitors to your website, it's critical to keep them engaged and the experience positive. The best place to start is getting a general measurement of site visitors and their behavior, i.e. which pages they're visiting (and which they're not).
If you have a website, you sorta just have to have Google Analytics. This totally free tool measures where people came from, the devices they used, the pages they visited, and lots of other quantitative metrics that can lay the foundation for analytics based insights. And once you've scratched the surface, there are tons of opt-in features in Google Analytics that make it an extremely robust tool as well.
We've all experienced this where you visit a website and are hit with mixed messages, moments of confusion, and a generally frustrating experience. Hotjar is a heatmapping tool that visualizes where people are clicking (and by proxy where they are not) to help you understand what's working (and similarly, what's not). You also have session replay that let's you "watch" user sessions (all completely anonymized and data redacted) so you can re-watch some of the cringiest experiences on your site. But wait – there's more: you can also launch mini surveys to site visitors on specified pages to collect feedback, capture emails, or turn visitors into donors.
Our last mention is sorta "extra credit" and that's Google Tag Manager. Some background: the tools that plug directly into your site (Google Analytics, Hotjar, etc.) can be installed one of two ways: "hard code" the snippet (also known as a "tag") onto your site's source code or you can install the tag through software that helps you manage all your tags: enter Google Tag Manager. The reason why you might opt for any tag manager is to take a code-specific tag and add human language to it, easily turn it on or off, or otherwise build a repository of all the things attached to your site. Tag Managers also streamline adding tracking codes like Facebook pixels or building out events (like scroll depth - or how far users are scrolling down various pages of your site) that can be sent into Google Analytics for more robust reporting. Google Tag Manager might take some time but it's worth learning in the long run. Oh, and totally free also.
If all of this is making your head spin, that's okay – we get it. Send us a note and we can help – we'd be happy to schedule a free consultation to hear your painpoints, map your goals, and point you in the right direction.request consultation