1. THE INCREASING COMPLEXITY OF PEOPLE'S ISSUES
People needing support often have complex problems that require the support of multiple organisations. Most service delivery models are based around solving one problem; for example, housing, employment, or mental health issues. While many services are gradually moving towards a more client-centric model and providing wrap-around services, there is still a lack of these services available.
2. RISING COSTS FOR SERVICE DELIVERY VS LEVEL OF FUNDING
The cost-of-service delivery and wages have increased beyond the level of funding to organisations. Consequently, many organisations reduce service delivery or find less expensive ways to provide services. For example, organisations that have provided face-to-face services may become telephone advice-only services. While telephone advice may be helpful in some situations, it implies the client can act on the advice provided. Many people with complex issues require more support than telephone advice.
3. INCREASING COMPETITION WITH THE NOT-FOR-PROFIT SECTOR
As governments have moved from a preferred service provider model to a tender process to contract for service delivery, not-for-profit organisations are often forced to compete with other not-for-profits. Often this results in two things. Firstly, a reduction in the number of service options for clients. Not-for-profit organisations that are not successful in winning contracts either have to merge or close. The second thing that often occurs is that service delivery is under-quoted, exacerbating the issue highlighted in the second point above.
4. CHANGING NATURE OF DONOR BASE
The traditional donor base they may have relied on in previous years is changing for many not-for-profit organisations. People are more likely to donate online. Businesses can no longer rely on doing things the same way, so not-for-profit organisations must consider how they can build donor loyalty in a new environment. The changing nature of organisations donor-based was discussed previously.
Given these challenges, most leaders within not-for-profit organisations would ask, "what does SEO have to do it?"
The simple answer is "a lot". SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is imperative for not-for-profit organisations in today's environment for many reasons, some of which we will highlight.
1. CAN YOU BE FOUND?
We are familiar with the "Where's Wally" books. Crowded pictures where we have to find Wally. The not-for-profit space is a crowded landscape. The ACNC (Australian Charities and NFP Commission) stated there are over 60,000 not-for-profits in Australia, which is growing at 4% per year.
This highlights the point we discussed above, the increasing competition in the sector.
SEO is one major thing that allows you to stand out and be seen in a crowded landscape.
A. BEING FOUND BY YOUR CLIENTS
There are two aspects to being found by your clients.
i. CLIENTS IN NEED
Clients need to find a service that will meet their needs quickly and effectively. You will not be found if your organisation is on the third page of a Google search. To be found, you need to be on the first page of a search engine. A strong SEO strategy is the only way to be on the first page.
Search engines reward strong SEO by lifting the ranking to the first page, enabling organisations to be found quickly.
ii. EDUCATING CLIENTS
Providing excellent client-centric content on your organisation's website not only builds your SEO but also educates your clients. Fact sheets, information sheets, and content that answers common questions are helpful to have on your website for three crucial reasons.
B. BEING FOUND BY YOUR DONORS
As mentioned, the majority of donors are now donating online. Donors are often IT savvy, extremely busy, want to donate quickly and smoothly, feel good, and get on to the next thing they must do.
Hence, they are looking for organisations they can donate to that are on the first page of their search engine. They do not have time to click through to pages 3, 4, or 5. If your organisation is on these pages, you will be missing out on potential donations.
A strong SEO that gets your organisation onto the first page of a search engine increases the likelihood of building a solid donor base.
C. BEING FOUND BY FUNDERS
The same principles listed above for clients and donors also apply to funding. When a not-for-profit organisation applies for funding, the funding body will check the organisation's website. There is an expectation by funders that organisations will have enough IT literacy and professionalism to have an up-to-date website that is SEO optimised.
For example, suppose two organisations providing services to a similar client group apply for funding, and one can be found easily on a search engine. The second is lost on a search engine's third or fourth page. In that case, the odds are weighted heavily in favour of the first organisation being successful simply because by having strong SEO, this organisation is more likely to be reaching and impacting the lives of more clients than the organisation on page three or four.
Many not-for-profits fail to realise the importance of SEO and data analytics and do not include these figures in funding applications. Many not-for-profits count client phone calls or face-to-face appointments as client numbers and fail to include the number of people who access their website.
For example, one small not-for-profit organisation, Tonic, works with, provides phone or face-to-face service delivery to approximately 400 clients annually. However, because they have engaged strongly in optimising their website and social media, they average between 12,000 to 14,000 visitors to their website/month.
This example highlights the importance of being found by your client base and puts the organisation in a strong position for funding applications because they can demonstrate a more significant impact.
A not-for-profit organisation that fails to capitalise and build a robust SEO platform is doing itself and its clients a disservice. SEO is no longer a nice to have for an organisation. It is essential, particularly when Google provides grants to non-profit organisations for SEO and ads.
Tonic Digital specialises in assisting not-for-profit organisations in applying for and using this grant effectively. If you need further information on how we can help, contact us.