How SEO Can Help Attract Donors to Your Site

6 minute read

Online marketing in the charity sector works the same way as in any other niche, except for one fact. While for-profits can afford an entire team of skillful marketers, you may not have a budget for that. Guess what will happen if donors find out you spent their money on promotion instead of helping the needy. Long story short, your fundraising game will be over. To play it safe in charity marketing, you must take more of a do-it-yourself approach.

Instead of paying four-digit sums to marketers, try to promote your fundraising site to the Top 10 on your own. Here’s what you need to understand. No matter how noble your intentions are, Google’s algorithm doesn’t care about them. People google words, and the engine analyses their queries when ranking sites. That said, keyword optimisation must be on your priority list.


Target donors with more specific keywords

First off, broad phrases like “donate money” will get your site nowhere. Long-established fundraising platforms already hold the highest positions for these terms. Google keeps them there because they look trustworthy in its eyes. A high domain rating and thousands of monthly visitors are  to blame. There’s no way you can push them out of the top until your Google Analytics account shows just as brilliant results as theirs. I hate to be the one who brings the bad news, but it’s impossible at the beginning.

What can work for you is content optimisation with more specific, long-tail keywords. While such phrases don’t get too many searches individually, collectively they can bring you a lot of page visits.

For example, the page ranking #1 for “donate to Mexico earthquake” also ranks for 300+ similar keywords. As you can see, the verb “donate” is used as a noun “donation” or replaced with a close term “relief.” That’s because Google has become so intelligent lately that it understands the meaning of users’ queries without word-for-word match.

Organic Keyword results for donors

Let’s take a term like “donate” and extend it with various modifiers for higher specificity. It can be anything from the purpose of donation to the category of the people in need. Check out possible modifiers below:

  • Items to donate: donate your old car, donate leftover food, donate women’s business clothes
  • Purpose of donation: donate money for cancer, donate money for education, donate money for games
  • People in need: donate to hungry children, donate to Syrian refugees, donate to homeless veterans
  • Institution: donate to homeless shelter, donate computers to school, donate money to church
  • Location: donate furniture London, donate water to Africa, donate books in Liverpool

Bonus tip! To come up with more specific keywords for fundraising, combine a few modifiers at once, e.g. a donation item and institution – “donate teddy bears to children’s hospital”.


Analyse keyword metrics to make better choices

The choice of keywords depends on how well they perform in organic search. To pick phrases that can pay off with ready-to-donate visitors, you’ll need to analyse their metrics with keyword research tools.

Search Volume shows how many times people google a certain keyword. It will give you a general idea if there’s an interest in your campaigns. The more searches a keyword gets, the more donors may land on your fundraising site. But not so fast.

Clicks. Search volume has a pitfall. The fact that someone performs a search doesn’t mean they click through organic results. Let’s check the keyword “age to donate blood.”

Keyword clicks for Donor site

In 79% of cases, this keyword gets no clicks at all, probably because most people get an answer immediately with one of Google’s SERP features. There’s no point in visiting the pages suggested below, in the Top 10.

Google search engine result page for donor site

That’s why you should always estimate how many clicks your target keyword can generate and double check SERP shows no instant answer. Otherwise, your research will be in vain.

Seasonality tells you for how long your target keyword will bring visitors to your fundraising site. The thing is not every seemingly profitable keyword gets searches all year round. Let’s check “Christmas charity.”

Keyword seasonality for donor site

People start googling this query a few months before the holiday. At the beginning of December, its search demand reaches a peak but then, when Christmas is over, it declines and remains at a record low for the rest of the time.

To understand how long your fundraising campaigns are in demand, use a free online tool – Google Trends.

Difficulty. With this metric, you’ll learn if it’s easy to bring your fundraising site to the Top 10. In the beginning, you’d better focus on keywords with a low difficulty score like “donate junk car.” To rank for it, your content will need backlinks from eight sites only. Learn more about how this metric is calculated.

Keyword difficulty for donor site


Use keywords that others are missing

Being “just another” person collecting donations won’t make things easier for you. Imagine how many other fundraisers are on the playing field. There must be something that could set you apart from them. Try to approach charity issues that no one else has approached yet. The question is how to identify those sweet spots.

A sure-fire way is to hang out on Quora, Reddit, Facebook communities, and forums, i.e. in places where potential donors share their concerns. If the same question gets on your radar again and again, it’s a signal of the lack of relevant information and your time to act.

Use that question as a keyword and create authentic content around it for your blog (set it up on your fundraising site if you haven’t yet). You can also check if your keyword suggestions coincide with queries that real users google. There are two places in SERP to see them the search field equipped with Autocomplete and Related Searches at the bottom.

Google keyword autocomplete for donor site

Being the first to provide a clear solution to a popular yet unresolved problem will prove your worth. Some people may become regular visitors of your site. Such relations often end up with generous donations.


Important notice! Besides finding juicy keywords, you’ll need to assure Google that your fundraising site is reliable enough to suggest to users. For this, you’ll need to back it up with quality backlinks. Learn how to earn them in the video tutorial below.


If you pick the right keywords and gain some link juice, your fundraising site will have a pretty good chance of hitting the first page of search results and get on the eyes of potential donors. The best part is that you can go without costly marketing services. All you’ll need a good keyword tool and some logic, that’s all. Have any other keyword strategies worked for you? Share them with us below.

Nick Campbell

Nick Campbell is a content marketer and outreach manager at Ahrefs. He is passionate about technology, SEO, and blogging trends. When Nick is not researching a new topic, he’s probably at some tech event.

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