What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know Today About SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term that everyone is using these days, but a lot of people in the nonprofit sector don’t know what it means. There are a whole lot of SEO experts out there claiming they can get your site to the top of the rankings, but sometimes the results don’t bear out. Having basic knowledge about SEO can go a long way for you as the executive director of an organization.

As much as you rely on your tech people, SEO is something all leaders can and should know.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is easy to understand conceptually. SEO is the process of getting eyeballs to your website through organic (i.e. not paid) and editorial content (e.g. a blog on your site). To get traffic to your site, you have to appear high, the first page preferably, in the rankings of search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Search engines are continually changing their digital algorithms that affect rankings. It’s done so the quality of what people see is high. In other words, search engines, place a premium on high-quality content and they don’t want end users to have results full of spam. And, you don’t want your content to be flagged as created for the search engines-and not humans-full of keywords, for example, or pages with unrelated content.

Why is SEO Important?

Providing content for humans and the human experience is what search engines want on the Internet. And, as humans we don’t want to read articles and visit sites with poor grammar, misspellings and irrelevant or incoherent information.

Ensuring good, or “white hat SEO,” which means content that delivers quality for humans and adheres to search engine rules and guidelines, is essential to having a high ranking. Google’s digital “bots” or “spiders” are continually searching the Internet making sure the best sites and pages rank at the top of any search. They are also indexing content and websites. The spiders are crawling the Internet and indexing it in the Google, Yahoo, or Bing “directory.” That indexing then causes the most relevant and high-quality results to appear when someone does a search.

How Can I Improve My Site’s SEO?

There are some ways to ensure that your organization’s website or blog is search engine optimized.

  • Your site and your content have to be mobile ready. If you’re site still hasn’t been designed for mobile, you might want to get on that right about now.
  • As search engines and social media platforms rely ever-increasingly on visuals, you should make certain great videos and photography accompany your copy.
  • The digital age is all about sharing. Improving your SEO rankings is helped by having compelling content that people want to: a) read; and, b) share. Integrate website share plug-ins and buttons.
  • Believe it or not, the security of your site affects your search engine rankings. Make sure your site is using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). The HTTPS protocol protects the data between a visitor on your site through the Internet and your website.

Finally, if you’re looking for SEO success, there are two metrics that you want to use to help you measure success:

  1. You want to see that your website appears high in the rankings on the first page of the most popular search engines, especially Google.
  2. You want high conversion rates for your website. If people are not buying what you’re selling, or signing up, you have a deeper problem than SEO.

Understanding these essential aspects of search engine optimization will go a long way toward making sure that you and your tech support team are communicating with the same understanding of SEO. And, this basic knowledge will help your nonprofit or social enterprise website or blog achieve digital success.

Nonprofit Board of Directors – Is Yours Apathetic? 5 Common Problems and How to Solve Them

Despite varying sizes, maturities, and purposes, many nonprofit organizations suffer from boards that are too passive or disengaged. If your Nonprofit Board of Directors isn’t enthusiastic about their role and the work of the organization, the organization cannot possibly reach its full potential.

Often board members witness the symptoms of their malaise but can’t articulate the root causes and are unable to offer solutions. Step back from your board of directors for a moment and read through the list of problems, below. Are you familiar with these complaints? Can you imagine stepping through the solutions provided? Are there other steps you could take to invigorate your passive board?

Send this article to members of your board today and start talking about possible solutions.

PROBLEM ONE Mission Scope Creep Over time, we’ve started to do too much for too many people. We aren’t sure any more what our priorities are and where we should focus our time. Things fall through the cracks and the staff is overloaded.

RECOMMENDATION Chances are that you are spread too thin. Maybe some of your programs are not being well-managed. Conversations need to take place with key board and staff personnel. Make a complete list of all of your programs. Decide on the focus of your organization. Make sure you have the resources to manage these programs well. Drop some projects or programs if necessary.

PROBLEM TWO Staff and Board are Out of Synch The board is working on some things, the staff is working on other things, but one hand doesn’t really know what the other is doing. Sometimes we just seem out of control.

RECOMMENDATION Stop and assess what the staff is doing and what each of the board committees is doing. Assign staff members to appropriate board committees. Design an Executive Director Board Report that highlights the measurable results from the organization’s key programs and projects. Focus the staff and board committee efforts on the top priorities of the organization.

PROBLEM THREE Executive Committee Does It All It’s just easier with fewer people. The Executive Committee can have a meeting before the board meeting and discuss, digest and make recommendations to the rest of the board about most issues. Some board members are doing all of the work, others don’t seem to be interested or involved.

RECOMMENDATION Slowly phase out the Executive Committee over time and ask the board committees to come to the board meetings with crisp, direct recommendations to the entire board. Expect more from every board member and empower board committees so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

PROBLEM FOUR No Clear Sense of Where the Organization is Going It seems like the organization is just treading water. We have no annual objectives for the staff and no actions for the board. We just come to board meetings and hear the same thing each month. And we always seem to be worried about money.

RECOMMENDATION As a board, sit down with your executive staff and decide the three most critical changes that need to take place in the next year. Decide how the board can support those activities (including fundraising) and how the board of directors can oversee and support the progress and the results you want to achieve.

PROBLEM FIVE The Board of Directors Provides no Oversight for the Organization It seems that the staff is doing fine without us. We’re not really sure what we should be doing. It’s hard to know what the staff is doing, and we don’t want to interrupt their work when they’re so busy.

RECOMMENDATION Think about the organization’s 4 or 5 key programs or projects. Decide what facts, figures, and trends the board needs to review at each board meeting to provide oversight and support for the top priorities of your organization. Ask the Executive Director to come to board meetings armed with this information. At the same time, work more closely with the staff to start discussing the future. Describe where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and determine how you can work together to make that future a reality.

Grant Funding Vs Earned Income

Should you rely on grant funding to start your business?

Any new, start-up business must generate some revenue to stay in business. The number one cause for a business to fail is lack of sufficient funding. To further complicate this people who often start non-profit organizations have big hearts and little knowledge on how to generate revenue. Some even want to provide all of their business services for free because the people they serve may not be able to afford it. To be successful all businesses, including non-profit businesses, must achieve a level of financial self-sustainability.

Some these struggling businesses turn to grant money to try to pay all of their bills. They have a mistaken belief that “self-sustainability” is when you get other sources (like grants) to pay your bills.

Grant funds are generally not designed to start a business, to pay for annual salaries, or to pay off debt. Most grants are designed to help pay some of the cost of new or expanding programs / projects.

When a grant applicant has no earned income and no other source of revenue, they are a financial risk. Grant funders do not like to give their hard earned money to a business with high financial risk. Therefore before a non-profit applies for any grant funding they should first develop a couple of other sources of revenue to strengthen their financial statement.

Perhaps the most common activities for non-profit organizations are hosting fundraising events. Fundraising events can range from car washes to bake sales to selling naming rights. The most successful fund raising event is the walk-a-thon.

Another option is UBI. UBI (Unrelated Business Income) is revenue generated by an activity which is completely outside the mission of the non-profit. One example might be having a place that serves food to the public in a hospital. Serving food like a restaurant is outside of the mission and scope of work of the general hospital. When a fund raising activity becomes very successful it could develop into its own separate for-profit business.

Earned income. On the financial statement earned income is far stronger than donations or gifts. Depending on the nature of the non-profit business there are any number of methods to generate earned income. Nearly all non-profits can sell a product(s) and service. Additionally sources of earned income include membership dues and earned interest.

A non-profit is a corporation and should be managed like one.