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Website Optimization

According to The Next Generation of American Giving, 98% of donors seek out a website as their main source of due diligence information when researching an organization. While a website may seem like just one component of your supporters’ engagement journey, it provides a multitude of touchpoints to cultivate and convert site visitors into supporters. This section explores the performance metrics you can use to tell the story of your organization through your website.

Website Traffic

Determining your traffic sources allows you to see where your site visitors are coming from when they enter your website. Traffic can be measured by website analytics tools. Google Analytics is among one of the most popular tools that organizations use. By analyzing trends in visitors, you can gain useful insights into how to improve visibility through search engine optimization (SEO), social media, or other marketing arms, all while curating your content toward specific audiences.

Within tools like Google Analytics, you can view where individuals came from before hopping onto your site. This might include:

  • Organic search: Individuals that search for you on a search engine like Google or Bing will enter your site through organic search. These types of searches are particularly helped by having an SEO strategy, as that can improve your appearance in keyword searches. Learn more on SEO here.
  • Referral traffic: This is as intuitive as it sounds; website visitors classified as ‘referral traffic’ enter your website through another website. This is a helpful metric that allows you to see which organizations have included you on their site and the types of visitors that they are sending your way.
  • Social traffic: If you maintain social media platforms and include links to your site, or if other organizations tag you with a link to your website, you may be gaining visitors from social media platforms. Within certain tools, you can view the platforms that are driving the most traffic to your site or even see which posts are the most successful at converting your social media followers into website visitors.


Page Views

You’d expect that certain pages on your site might be more popular than others, like a homepage or a donation page. You should regularly examine your page views to determine the pages your visitors are viewing the most. This data can help you create content that is more engaging or help to improve pages with fewer views. In addition, tools like Google Analytics allow you to assess the length of time that visitors spend on certain pages. Another useful metric known as a bounce rate measures the visitors who land on a website and immediately leave. If you have observed a high bounce rate, meaning that visitors leave your site within seconds of entering, this could signal that your site lacks certain engagement features, is not intuitively navigable, or was not the page they were seeking. Each of these factors underscores just how critical it is to routinely assess your page views and discern where you can tweak and experiment with your sitemap and content.


Website Conversion Rate

A website conversion rate is a useful metric to assess whether your site is converting a visitor into a supporter. It measures the percentage of visitors who take a certain action, which could include different activities, like donating, registering for a volunteer day, opting into your newsletter, or RSVPing for an event. Tools like Google Analytics allow an organization to assess the conversion rate for each activity. This is a useful tool that can not only measure your website engagement but can also help to examine how clearly you have laid out your website’s wireframe and marketed your cause.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

With online fundraising trends on the rise each year, your online presence is more important than ever before. With thousands of social good organizations scattered across the web, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for your supporters to find you, and search engine optimization (SEO) analytics play a huge role in accomplishing just that.

SEO is the process of increasing both the quantity and quality of your website’s traffic by making your site more visible in a search engine, like Google. Specific changes to your website design can improve where you appear in the rankings when someone searches for you online using keywords and phrases. If you’re wondering how you can boost your website’s SEO, consider these four actionable steps:

  • Front-load your browser title. The first word of a browser title is crucial. By front-loading it with the page name, rather than your organization’s name, you’ll enhance your visibility in search engine results.
  • Add a meta description to all pages. A meta description is a short, 150-character summary of your web page’s content. Search engines show the meta description in their search results when the keywords that they input are also in your meta description. Optimizing this summary is a must-have to boost site traffic from search results. The meta description is the default text shown when someone shares a link to a web page on social media. A compelling description will entice the searcher to click and hop over to your website.
  • Increase online reviews. If individuals leave a review about your organization on engines like Google Reviews, this will improve your local search rankings. It also helps to improve your reputation and increase search click-through rates.
  • Make citations consistent. One of the top ways to improve your local search ranking is through citations. A citation is any web page that lists your name, address, and phone number.

With digital trends on the rise, you should only expect SEO to become more popular as a tactic for raising awareness of your organization.


Donation Forms

According to the Charitable Giving Report, in 2021 12% of overall fundraising came from online giving. This is a significant chunk of the giving pie, making it well worth your effort to optimize your online channels—especially your donation forms—to reach the highest possible performance. Check out these optimization tips to boost the performance of your team’s donation forms.

  • Make it as easy as possible to find your donation form. Once you have someone on your website, you’ll need to draw attention to your “donate now” button. As a best practice in the sector, most organizations have placed this on their main header, as well as in other areas that visitors can see on any page, and especially on the homepage. In addition to placing this in a clear, accessible format, you’ll want to minimize the amount of clicks or pages that a visitor sorts through to find the donation form.
  • Brand your donation form to match your website. Building your brand is tough, and all that work should not detract from your donation form but support it.1 Branding your donation form not only makes sense, but it also builds trust and your brand reputation while increasing the likelihood that a person visiting the form will complete their transaction.
  • Increase the likelihood that potential donors stay on your website. If a supporter must enter a third-party website in order to donate, you stand a higher chance of a donation form drop-off. People want to know that they are on a secure site when giving a gift and sharing sensitive financial information. Sending your supporters off-site is likely to raise questions or even halt a donor mid-gift.
  • Minimize the number of required fields. People tend to dislike giving away too much information when they fill out forms, and they certainly don’t like feeling bogged down in their data entry. Be sensitive to this preference and limit your donation form to only the fields you truly need.
  • Go mobile. You must build mobile optimization into your donation framework. According to the Charitable Giving Report, 28% of online donations were made using a mobile device in 2021.2 If your donation is not responsive, you’re turning away potential supporters.
  • Offer giving levels and pre-select the one you’d like most donors to choose. Research shows that suggesting gift amounts leads to improved donation form performance by increasing average online gift size. Instead of asking people to type in the amount they want to donate, give them options. The goal is to get people to give larger amounts than they would if left to make their own decision.
  • Market your sustainer program. While every gift is valued, you should leverage your donation form as an opportunity for recurring gifts. Monthly gifts, even small ones, signal that a donor is interested in a long-term commitment. They may be unaware of this option or may feel more comfortable giving a monthly amount that suits their budget.
  • Experiment. You can’t improve your form if you don’t know how it’s performing. Make sure that you are monitoring how your supporters use this form, note any issues that donors report, and test it occasionally yourself.
  • Plan for the rest. Immediately after someone gives an online donation, you have an opportunity to provide your donor with a next step. There are two core components that you can leverage: the confirmation page and the confirmation email. Think strategically about a few ways you can leverage these opportunities. Use your email to thank your donor and invite them to an upcoming event. Use the confirmation page to highlight your impact numbers or link out to your social media pages. Leverage these seemingly functional moments by turning them into something transformational.


Mobile Optimization

According to the 2021 M+R Benchmark Report, half of all nonprofit website traffic in 2020 came from users on mobile devices. With 50% of all traffic generated by mobile devices, 6% by tablets, and 44% by desktop users.3 Social good organizations of today must be mobile friendly in order to compete. Your supporters expect to be able to find information about you with just a moment’s notice, and mobile devices provide for that ease of use.

Many organizations rely on responsive web design when crating their sites. This is an approach to web design that allows desktop webpages to be viewed in response to the size of the screen of the web browser you are using to view a website. Essentially, a site’s content and images respond to the dimensions of the devices its site visitors are using. Here are the top three impacts of responsive design:

  • Supporters expect a multichannel experience. Studies demonstrate that by 2023, there will be as many as 7.3 billion smartphone users worldwide.4 With the rise of social media and the continued reliance on email, individuals are spending more and more time on their phones, and they expect to be engaged through as many platforms as their personal tech stacks allow. According to the Charitable Giving Report, 28% of online donations were made using a mobile device in 2021.5 Your supporters are no longer just visiting your site on a desktop, and your website strategy must accommodate a widescale shift to mobile.
  • Responsive design strengthens search engine optimization (SEO). Today, if your organization is not mobile friendly, your organization is losing out in search rankings to sites that are. Search algorithms evolve rapidly, and simple tweaks in your mobile design can dramatically alter where you appear when individuals search for key phrases. To leverage mobile optimization and up your search rankings, head to SEO.
  • Responsive design bolsters user experience. On average, nonprofits experience a 34% increase in their conversion rate when they have a responsive website and responsive forms. Having a mobile optimized website means that your navigation forms are correctly displayed, and your users are not struggling to discern where they are. Considering that nonprofits raised $0.83 per website visitor in 2018, a heightened web experience could convert to tangible boosts in revenue, and responsive design enables that.