SEO for Charities: Strategies and Tips for Driving Donations

Florian Rasmussen
Florian Rasmussen
6 June 2024

In this guide you will find effective SEO strategies for charities, covering keyword research, content creation, local SEO, and link building that are specifically designed for the not for profit space. Learn how to enhance your online visibility and attract more donations and volunteers.

Keyword Strategies
Content Creation
Local SEO
Website Accessibility
Link Building

Understanding and implementing SEO for charities and not for profit organisations is not just about choosing the right keywords - it's a crucial strategy for enhancing your online visibility and impact. Search engine optimisation, or SEO, has evolved significantly over the last decade, transitioning from simple keyword usage to complex strategies that align with ever-changing search engine algorithms. This makes your website more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs), crucial for attracting potential donors and volunteers through organic traffic.

Today, an effective SEO strategy means creating content that meets the search intent of your audience, ensuring accessibility, and integrating backlink strategies to extend your reach. These efforts help connect your charity to those in need and those willing to support your cause, proving indispensable in driving engagement and contributions.

1. Keyword Strategies

This section outlines a comprehensive approach to developing a keyword strategy that encompasses everything from basic keyword identification to advanced techniques such as competitor analysis and intent understanding. By fine-tuning your strategy to include a mix of broad and long-tail keywords, seasonal trends, and user intent, you can significantly enhance your online presence and draw more attention to your vital work.

Woman holding coins in her hand asking for charity

Keyword Research Fundamentals:

Conduct thorough keyword research to identify terms related to non-profit activities, fundraising, volunteer opportunities, and your specific cause.

Competitor Keywords:

Beyond identifying basic keywords, examine the keywords your competitors are ranking for. SEO Tools provide functionalities for competitor analysis which can give you insights into the keywords that are effective for similar organisations. This can help to discover new keyword opportunities and gaps in your own content.

Long-Tail Keywords:

Emphasise the importance of long-tail keywords which are often less competitive and more targeted, leading to higher conversion rates. Long-tail keywords typically match the specific queries of users, which can improve the relevance of your content for those looking to engage deeply with your cause.

Keyword Intent:

Understanding the intent behind keywords (informational, transactional, navigational and commercial) can greatly affect how you implement them into your content. This ensures that the content not only incorporates the keywords but also satisfies the needs of the audience at different stages of their interaction with your NFP. For example, someone looking for "how to volunteer for animal shelters" may need different information compared to someone searching for "animal shelter donation methods". How you write the content and what keywords you choose will depend on this intent and what you are hoping to achieve eg. donations or volunteer sign ups.

Seasonal Keywords:

For charities, certain times of the year can drive specific activities and campaigns. Identifying and utilising seasonal keywords related to events such as Christmas, End of Financial Year donations, or specific awareness days can capture traffic during peak times.

Incorporating Keywords:

Incorporate your keywords naturally into website content, meta titles, descriptions, and URLs.

  1. Website Content: Integrate keywords naturally across your text, headers, and subheaders to improve SEO and align with user search intent. For instance, for the keyword "volunteer opportunities," ensure the content is informative, directly relevant, in context and grammatically correct
  2. Meta Titles: Place primary keywords at the start of meta titles to capture user attention and search engine visibility. Keep titles around 60 characters to ensure they are fully displayed in SERPs.
  3. Meta Descriptions: Craft concise meta descriptions that summarize the page content and incorporate key keywords to enhance click-through rates (CTR). Aim for about 155 characters to ensure complete display in search results.
  4. URLs: Develop clean, straightforward URLs that include keywords and are easy to read, using hyphens to separate words. Example:

SEO Tools:

To effectively implement and manage your SEO strategy, utilising the right tools is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of several popular SEO tools, each offering unique features. All of these have some free functionality or a free trial:

  1. SEMrush: SEMrush can be particularly useful for tracking keyword rankings and uncovering content gaps that competitors are exploiting. Its free trial allows you to explore these functionalities before committing to a subscription.
  2. Google Ads Keyword Planner: This tool is not just ideal for PPC but can also be used to discover new keywords in your SEO optimisations, providing insights into search volumes, competition and trends. It's free with a Google Ads account, making it accessible for budget-conscious non-profit organisations. 
  3. Yoast SEO: Especially useful for WordPress sites, Yoast SEO is a plugin that assists in optimising your site's content for search engines. It guides you in adding meta titles, descriptions, and focus keywords. Yoast also provides readability feedback, ensuring that your content is accessible and engaging for users, crucial for non-profit sites aiming to effectively communicate with their audience.
  4. Ubersuggest: This tool is user-friendly and ideal for beginners as it offers keyword suggestions, SEO audits, and content ideas, helping non-profits organisations identify new opportunities for outreach and engagement. The tool’s free version provides basic features, making it a suitable starting point for smaller non-profits without the budget for more comprehensive software.
  5. Ahrefs: Known for its powerful backlink analysis capabilities, this is perfect for charities looking to bolster their link-building strategies. It also offers robust keyword research tools and competitive analysis.

2. Content Creation

Creating compelling content that resonates with your audience is a crucial step for engaging supporters over the long term. Here are recommendations for developing content that aligns with the needs of your target audience and the objectives of your non-profit.

People donating food at a not for profit or charity organisation

 Content Ideas for NFP Audiences:

Develop high-quality, informative content that addresses the interests and questions of your target audience. This could include the following:

  1. Impact Stories and Case Studies
  2. Educational Content on Your Cause
  3. Volunteer Experiences and Testimonials
  4. Behind-the-Scenes Looks
  5. Guides and How-To guides related to your cause
  6. Donor Appreciation Posts
  7. Event Highlights and Recaps
  8. Research and Insights
  9. Resource Lists and Support Services
  10. Articles and information on where donations are utilised and their impact

3. Local SEO

Local SEO can easily be overlooked by non-profits that operate within specific geographic areas. Optimising for local search can significantly improve your visibility among community members who are most likely to engage with your cause. Here are some advanced recommendations to strengthen your local SEO strategy.

Red box asking for donations at a local NFP saying "Act Now" showing importance of SEO for Charities

Create a Google My Business Profile:

Establishing a Google My Business (GMB) profile is the first step. Ensure your profile is complete and includes up-to-date information about your organisation, such as contact details, address, and operating hours. Regularly update your GMB profile with posts about events, news, and other relevant content to keep your audience engaged.

Incorporate Local Keywords:

Use keywords that reflect your local area such as city, neighbourhood, or region names combined with relevant charity services (e.g., "homeless shelters in Brisbane" or "Melbourne food banks"). This helps in attracting local search traffic that is more likely to convert into donations, volunteering, or other forms of support.

Encourage Reviews:

Reviews are a key factor in local SEO and can improve your visibility in local search results. Encourage volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries to leave reviews on your Google My Business profile and other review platforms relevant to your region. Respond to reviews to show that your organisation values feedback and engages with its supporters.

Local Link Building:

Work on acquiring backlinks from other local businesses and organisations. Partnerships for events or community initiatives can lead to natural link-building opportunities. Local newspapers and other media outlets can also be valuable sources of backlinks if they cover your non-profit's activities.

Use Local Structured Data Markup:

Implement structured data markup on your website to provide search engines with specific information about your local non-profit organisation. This can include your organisation’s location, contact information, and local events. Structured data helps in enhancing your appearance in local search results and can increase the likelihood of appearing in rich snippets.

4. Website Accessibility

Making your website accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not only a matter of inclusivity but also a strategic SEO consideration. Below are some recommendations to ensure your website meets accessibility standards, thereby improving user experience and helping with SEO.

Accessible Entry sign on a colourful brick wall

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): 

Adhere to the WCAG guidelines, which provide a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities.

Alt Text for Images:

Ensure all images on your website have descriptive alt text that provides context, helping visually impaired users understand the images and allowing search engines to better index and understand the content.

Ensure Sufficient Colour Contrast:

Colour contrast is critical for users with visual impairments. Ensure that the text on your website stands out against the background, making it easier to read. This is especially important when viewed on mobile devices. Tools like the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker can help you verify that your website meets the necessary contrast ratios.

Keyboard Navigation:

Make sure your website can be navigated using a keyboard alone. This is crucial for individuals who cannot use a mouse or prefer keyboard navigation. All interactive elements should be accessible via keyboard, including forms, links, and media controls.

Create Accessible Forms:

Ensure all forms on your website are accessible, with clear labels and instructions. Users should be able to navigate and fill out the forms using assistive technologies. Consider providing error messages that are easy to understand, helping users correct mistakes when submitting forms.

Use ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) Landmarks:

Implement ARIA landmarks to help users with screen readers navigate your website more easily. These landmarks can identify regions of the page like navigation, main content, and footers, improving the structural accessibility of your site.

Provide Transcripts and Captions for Audio and Video Content: 

Offering transcripts for audio and captions for video content is essential for deaf or hard-of-hearing users. It also benefits users who prefer to read rather than listen to content and can help improve your content's SEO by making it indexable by search engines.

5. Link Building

Link building is a crucial component of SEO that involves acquiring hyperlinks from external websites to your own. These backlinks not only drive direct traffic but also boost your site's authority and ranking on search engines.

Network of connections symbolising a successful backlink SEO strategy

Partnerships and Collaborations:

Leverage relationships with partner organisations and sponsors. Encourage them to link back to your site when they mention your events, campaigns, or the partnership itself. This can be through their official websites, blogs, or press releases.

Media Outlets:

Establish relationships with local news outlets and industry-specific publications. Provide them with regular updates about your charity’s activities and accomplishments. Being featured in these publications can result in high-quality backlinks and increased exposure.

Educational Institutions:

Engage with schools, universities, and research institutions that may be interested in your cause. They can link to your site as a resource for students or include information about your non-profit in their newsletters and educational materials.

Content Marketing with Blogs and Influencers:

Develop compelling content that bloggers and influencers in your niche would want to share. This could include unique research, impact stories, or expert insights into topics relevant to your cause. Providing high-value content increases the likelihood of these influencers linking back to your site.

Industry Forums and Discussion Boards:

Actively participate in forums and online communities relevant to your sector. By providing helpful answers and resources, you can establish your organisation as a credible source of information, leading to natural backlink opportunities.

Social Media Engagement:

Use your social media profiles to share content that links back to your website. While these links are typically no-follow, they can drive traffic and increase the visibility of your content, indirectly supporting your link-building efforts.

Guest Blogging:

Offer to write guest posts for well-regarded blogs and websites in your industry. In these guest posts, include a link back to your website. Choose topics that provide significant value and insight, encouraging the host site to publish your content and their audience to engage with it.

Monitor and Analyse Backlinks:

Regularly check the quality of your backlinks using tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. This will help you understand which strategies are most effective and ensure that your backlink profile remains healthy and free of potentially harmful links.

As with all things digital, standards around best practice evolve rapidly and an SEO optimisation strategy should be constantly revisited and iterated on. A full audit once a year is recommended.

How Koben Can Help Make Your Website SEO optimised.

If you are a Koben client and would like to discuss an SEO audit or strategy, please reach out to your Koben Project Manager.

If you're new to Koben and would like help analysing your target market and website analytics to determine if an SEO strategy plan could benefit you, feel free to contact us.


If you already know you need a new or refreshed SEO strategy and are looking for the right partner, we’d love to chat. 

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