SEO Strategies for Non-Profit Organizations

SEO For Nonprofit Organizations

SEO is how search engines like Google find your non-profit organization’s website. In an ever-growing digital world, SEO should be the first consideration of major gifts officers working for non-profit organizations that are trying to grow their online presence and connect with donors and prospects.

SEO is the language of the internet and learning can only advance your efforts to gain recognition for the major gifts department of your non-profit organization. Although it may seem as if there are a lot of moving parts at first, SEO is quite easy to implement on your non-profit’s website.

Why Should Non-Profit Organizations Use SEO?

It is a well-known fact that we spend a significant portion of our lives online. People have gravitated towards more digital interaction in all aspects of life, and non-profit organizations are no exception.

A potential donor will likely check your major gifts and planned giving website and social media accounts before making any major decisions. They want to see what you’re about and if your values align with theirs before meeting face to face or even talking with a major gifts officer. Making sure your website content is professional and highly accessible greatly increases your chances of positive interaction.

Some non-profits do not see the benefit of keeping an updated major gifts website or active social media account. However, their major gifts officer is missing out on significant donation potential by shutting out their largest audience at the very first step.

How Does SEO Work For Non-Profit Organizations?

Google sends out bots called crawlers to analyze each page of your website to ensure it has accurate information and can point searchers in the right direction. It checks for things like relevant content, the quality of your content, and the text given to your images. There are over 200 SEO factors that impact the way Google will rank your non-profit organization’s website.

Once Google has crawled your page, it then indexes and ranks your major gifts website. When you first search for something online, the websites that appear at the top of the list are the highest-ranked. Your goal is to have your organization ranked near the top of the search results.

There are easy ways to do this, but it is worth recognizing that you are in for the long haul. It sometimes takes non-profit organizations years to come in first. Investing in SEO is highly beneficial for major gifts officers, so this should be a priority.

Which SEO Factors Should Non-Profit Organizations Focus On?

SEO can seem a little overwhelming at first glance, but overall the concept is simple: take every opportunity to tell Google about your major gifts website. Here are some of the most important things you should consider when implementing SEO to increase your major gifts officer’s fundraising efforts.


Keywords are truly the most important part of SEO. A quick search results in pages of instructions on how to use them properly.

If you are unsure of how to determine which keywords are appropriate for your niche, you can use a free keywords search tool to check your competition.

Once you find the most efficient keywords, learning how to place them in your content is essential. It turns out you can’t just fill your website with keywords. Keyword overstuffing is very real and Google takes it seriously. Your site can fall in rank, so strategically place your keywords for maximum impact.

Writing for Google is fine, but make sure your content is enjoyably read by your audience as well. Any text on your major gifts website should sound very natural.

Keywords in URLs

Choosing URLs for your major gifts website is more of a science than you think. It is important to try to fit your keyword somewhere in your URL.

Your URL should also be informative. Your audience should know exactly what they’re clicking on when they see it. Random numbers or letters will not lead Google’s algorithm to believe you are a major gifts authority website.

Keyword Placement for SEO

At first look, your text may be the most important positioning for keywords. Dig a little deeper and you will find that there are so many places to sneak keywords into your optimization process.

Using relevant keywords in your title and headings can make all of the difference in your rank. Google appreciates it when you use a variety of heading sizes to increase readability and make the website visually appealing. Having well-structured, major gifts keyword-rich layout on your page will help you get another mark on Google’s checklist.

Links For SEO

Another important thing that Google looks for when crawling your site is the prevalence of links. There are two types of links you should add to your non-profit organization’s major gifts website. They are outbound links and internal links.

Google needs to make a connection between your brand new major gifts website and a website it already knows. If there is no connection, your site appears isolated on the internet and Google cannot crawl it. An outbound link acts like a boat that takes a crawler to your island.

Outbound links are links to other websites. You must link to sites that have relevant content and have already gained authority in your niche. Do not link to a word that is directly competing for your keywords because they will always out-rank you. Link to a general page on their website.

Internal links are links to other webpages within your own major gifts website. For example, you could link to another fundraising blog post your major gifts officer has written to connect the two. Internal links help you gain authority in Google’s eyes. It shows that you have a lot of related content, so you must know what you’re talking about. Creating pages for internal links helps build your search engine footprint and will increase your likelihood of being found.

Website Optimization

Another very important factor in ranking high on Google is your website’s bounce rate. Bounce rate is the average of how long viewers stay on your website. Ensuring that your major gifts website loads properly is vital.

People don’t like to wait, so the second a page doesn’t load, they are likely to exit. This is especially important for mobile versions. Since such a high percentage of your audience will use their phone to access your website, any lagging or broken images will be a deterrent.

Image optimization

Text is not the only place to add keywords. You can sneak relevant keywords behind the scenes by using ALT tags.

ALT tags are descriptions of your pictures. If you are using SEO software, there is most likely a place to enter an image title or tag. Taking full advantage of this will significantly boost your rank.

Image searches are wildly popular and make up a surprisingly high percentage of total searches. Someone could likely find your major gifts website through an image search, so it is key to ensure your images are optimized to the full extent.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the small blurb below the website title on a search engine result. It is usually 140-160 characters long and gives a short summary of what the reader can expect when they click the link.

Although many people believe that using keywords in the meta description helps Google rank your website, Google says that isn’t so. Instead, what does increase your ranking is a high click rate on your link. Optimizing your meta description with keywords to peak interest is a great tactic to increase clicks.

Using Page Listings As SEO For Non-Profit Organizations

One exceptionally under-utilized SEO feature is a page listing. Page listings serve two purposes: they provide another way for Google to find your site, and they improve your local SEO.

It is a smart idea to fill out Google My Business, input your full information in directories, and enter your location on maps.

Filling out this information will allow people within your geographical area to stumble across your major gifts website more easily. Google highly favors geographic proximity and has its own set of local SEO ranking factors.

Making sure your information is highly accessible will increase the chances of a potential donor contacting your major gifts officer.

Google Knowledge Panels SEO For Non-Profit Organizations

Google has a very handy feature that some businesses or non-profit organizations and major gifts officers can avail of to increase SEO presence. The Google Knowledge Panel is an all-in-one spot for discovering information about an “entity”. Google has created these as an ease-of-use tool for the searcher, but the SEO benefit to the entity is limitless.

It is a panel that appears on the right-hand side of the search page when is reasonably certain that you are searching for a specific person, place, or thing. It provides information such as a summary of the entity, interesting facts, other information that may be useful, and it also places links to social media accounts. You must be verified by Google for it to display a knowledge panel about your non-profit organization.

How To Gain SEO Authority For Non-Profit Organizations

One thing Google seems to quickly judge when determining rank is whether or not your major gifts website is considered an authority in the niche.

Establishing backlinks is an easy way to increase the authority of your non-profit. The most effective way to do this is to have your major gifts officer create informative, well-written fundraising content that people want to link to on their own websites.

Having established and recently updated social media accounts can also help this. You can place a “donate” button on many social media pages where people can contact your major gifts officer. People can then link your non-profit social media accounts to their websites, which encourages click-throughs.

The Bottom Line

SEO is an essential tool to help increase website traffic, and therefore donations for non-profit organizations. However, while it is helpful, SEO cannot be your only strategy.

Working with a marketing strategist or formulating your well-informed major gifts marketing plan yourself is essential. Combining SEO, paid ads, and a solid social media strategy is the path to increasing your internet footprint and increasing contact with your major gifts officers.

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