Many non-profit organisations take an S & P approach to their online presence. S & P refers to a strategy based on spray and pray principles. Spray some social posts on the organisation's Facebook or Instagram page, link them back to the website, and pray that somewhere out there someone will see the post at some point.
Posting photos of the latest staff training day or staff luncheon undoubtedly has a feel-good factor and helps build an organisational culture and team camaraderie. However, as a means of raising the organisation's profile, such a strategy has little or no impact.
In a previous article, we considered the need for non-profit organisations to have a strong content marketing strategy was outlined. The reasons for having a target content marketing strategy are to enable the organisation to communicate the needs of their clients to the wider community, hence driving action from the community and encouraging a broader donor base to support the organisation's ongoing work.
I want to elaborate on these reasons.
The level of technological literacy has grown among community members. This means people are more likely to go online to search for assistance. The majority of people are searching online using their mobile.
One of the significant changes within the non-profit space over the past twenty years is that most clients who access services now have mobile phones and are searching online for assistance. Twenty years ago, the mantra was that disadvantaged people who needed assistance didn't have mobile phones. Therefore, there was greater reliance on printed media and word of mouth for referrals.
This is no longer true. Consequently, organisations need to ensure they can be found online, particularly that their websites and social media platforms are mobile-friendly. To increase their findability, online non-profit organisations need to ensure their content marketing is designed to increase their Google ranking so their client group can find them.
The majority of donors are now searching and donating online. While this trend was developing pre-COVID, it has escalated during and post-COVID. People who wish to donate are more likely to go online and make donations through an organisation's website.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure a non-profit organisation has a high ranking so that it is on the first page of Google search, as this will place it in the best position to attract donations. The other thing with donations through online platforms is that it is less expensive than other forms of fundraising and does enable organisations to reach a larger group of people than they would otherwise be able to.
Given most people are now searching online for assistance, decisions are made by how an organisation presents itself online. This applies as much to clients as it does to donors.
The organisation may be convinced it is doing excellent work; however, if the website is out-of-date and has broken links, it is unlikely to receive a favourable impression from donors or clients.
When organisations consider their reputation and risk factors, they need to consider their online reputation because this is very often the first contact a person has with the organisation.
One of the important ways non-profit organisations can build their online presence is through SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo use algorithms to ensure they provide the best possible answer to every search query on their platform.
Optimising your online presence allows search engines like Google to understand your content and what you write about, which means they can provide your organisation with a list of responses to a query from a person using words that reflect your online presence .
Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines use what are known as web crawlers to understand your content. The purpose of the web crawler is to build an index with a ranked list of websites that are the most relevant to a query.
This is where content becomes vital to non-profit organisations and why the spray-and pray approach doesn't work. The spray-and pray approach doesn't work because web crawlers cannot interpret the content sufficiently to rank the website to respond to any query.
The other trap non-profit organisations can fall into is spending considerable funds on a new or revamped website that looks impressive and colourful but may not build the organisation's online profile if it is not designed for SEO. Money can often be saved by staying with the original website, but making it compatible with SEO so web crawlers can begin understanding the content.
Content for non-profit organisations is often challenging. Staff often feel uncomfortable writing for the public, making it difficult to have consistency in publishing content that ranks. SEO improves the more consistently relevant content is published and promoted online.
There are also time pressures. Compared to client needs, writing content is down the list of priorities. The other challenge is knowing what to write about. There can be many topics and issues we believe are necessary to get out into the public domain.
There is no easy way around these challenges. Some larger non-profit organisations may be able to contract writers to write content for them; however, even if they do, the organisation still needs to develop a clear, coherent SEO strategy to guide the writer.
A non-profit organisation that develops a coherent and strategic SEO strategy and consistently writes or hires a writer to write in line with the strategy will find organic traffic to their website increasing.
Organic traffic occurs when people search online, and your organisation's website is ranked, so the person visits your website from their search. Organic traffic is the least expensive and most effective way to increase traffic and an organisation's online presence. However, it can also be the slowest method and requires commitment and dedication.
Google Ads is a way non-profit organisations can advertise through a grant from Google. Many non-profit organisations miss out on this opportunity because they are unaware of these grants. However, it is a valuable and cost-effective way to advertise online while building an organisation's SEO profile and organic traffic.
Tonic Digital has used Google Grants for several non-profit organisations that have delivered outstanding results in the awareness of the broader community of the organisation.
If you would like further information on Google Grants for your NFP organisation, please contact us.