Top Keywords For Nonprofits To Target

Sep 1, 2022

Choosing the right keywords is the most crucial stage for any digital marketing agency working with nonprofits. The same goes for any nonprofit marketer in the early stages of a keyword research strategy.

Most articles present a generic list of nonprofit keywords which might work for some, but understanding the most useful and top keywords for nonprofits requires a complete strategy and thorough understanding of SEO.

In this article, you will get expert tips to develop your own keyword strategy for nonprofits. The main points below constitute a solid working outline for choosing the best keywords for your nonprofit based on the type of nonprofit, its unique goals and audience.

The Best Keywords for Nonprofits Might be Generic

You can easily use keyword research tools like SEMrush to generate a list of keywords that contain ‘nonprofit’ and have a high volume (hence popularity) of searches.

However, this generic list of keywords is 1) too broad and 2) it is highly competitive because naturally so many nonprofits are likely targeting the same terms.

A helpful step further is to differentiate this list of broad keywords with descriptors that fit your particular nonprofit sector. For instance, nonprofits that serve in the educational sphere might want to target some of these keywords:

The Top Keywords For Nonprofits Will Mainly Be Based On Intent

Rather than providing a list of average search volumes that changes every month (see above tables), here is the main principle you and your organization must figure out: understand and answer search intent.

Understanding the intent behind searched keywords is the heart of any SEO strategy.

There are hundreds of different ways we can look at keyword intent for nonprofits, but for our purposes we will focus on one main question (most) nonprofits are asking themselves: how to attract donors.

How Do Nonprofits Attract Donors?

You might be thinking that finding the search intent to attract donors is obvious. Terms like:

  • Non profit donations
  • Donate to non profit
  • Best nonprofits to donate to
  • Etc.

However, these examples only reflect a single stage of a journey. Imagine that someone

  • Watched a TED talk about giving to the poor several months ago
  • Has been volunteering at a local homeless shelter with friends
  • Recently found a new job with better pay
  • They already have had exposure to the need for being involved with the poor and giving, and are finally ready to give

Next, they go online and search “best nonprofits to donate to.”

On one hand, the intent here for some individuals may be choosing out of a list of nonprofits and to donate to. However, this kind of keyword search is likely the beginning of another series of searches and research before a final decision is made.

Attract Donors by Showing Examples of Work

Attracting a donor is more than having someone find your nonprofit’s site. They should find your content to be helpful, and they should resonate with your cause. This means they agree with how your organization approaches issues, the philosophy behind it and the examples of work on the site.

Attract Donors By Answering Specific Questions About Issues That Matter

Going back to our example, imagine that they come across a nonprofit that is involved in international poverty - something they never considered since originally they meant to donate to a nonprofits in their own country.

A new search might be “how do we help the poorest of the poor in third world countries?”

Potential donors want to learn real stories of success about issues that matter to them. The way you share the story can help build credibility and trust about the issue.

Attract Donors By Demonstrating Credibility

There are a number of watchdog and nonprofit rating agencies that are a must-have feature to display prominently in the footer section of a website. It could even be helpful to dedicate a blog post clearly explaining the subject of accountability.

Choosing the Top Keywords for Different Types of Nonprofits

As you can see, the best keywords for nonprofits will depend on keyword intent, and that intent will vary based on which type of nonprofit you represent.

Moreover, your organization should not assume that everyone should be able to find you by the way you promote yourself. Not everyone would search exactly the way the IRS defines different types of nonprofit organizations.

This kind of keyword intent can be discovered through Google Search Console by seeing how people already find your site. Another solution is to talk with your donor base and ask them how they would describe your organization and what it does.

Example Keywords for Charity

Now let’s briefly think through charities as a more commonly known type of nonprofit.

Deciding on keywords for a charity around the right intent and for the right person can move potential donors, volunteers, or other stakeholders further along some kind of path. The path can mean more education, tools, engagement opportunities like volunteer events, etc. Ultimately, figure out what topics about or related to charity would mean the most value to your audience.

Last Thoughts About Keywords For Nonprofits

You will quickly find out that the best, most popular and “top” keywords for nonprofits is not really the right way to think about SEO for nonprofits. I would argue that the right question to ask is, “About which topics should my nonprofit seek to be an established go-to expert?”

The answer to that question will differ significantly in some ways for each nonprofit. But more importantly, SEO is no short-cut to truly fulfill your organization’s mission. If you do represent a nonprofit with the expertise for such topics with great work to show for it, then any nonprofit like you is well poised to succeed in organic search.