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Sept 9 & 10

Optimizing Your Nonprofit Website: 5 Data Points to Watch

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Your website is the central hub for all important information about your nonprofit. It should grab users’ attention and direct them to take action that furthers their involvement with your organization—such as donating, volunteering, or attending events.

However, if you’re not seeing the results you’re hoping for with your website, it’s time to get to the root of these issues so you can properly engage your supporters online. By tracking web engagement data in an analytics tool like Google Analytics 4, you can better understand how visitors are interacting with your site and how you can improve it to foster even more engagement.

For example, as Cornershop Creative’s best nonprofit websites guide explains, “If the most beautiful website in the world takes forever to load, then visitors will still leave.” When you identify issues like low engagement rates using data, you gain better insight into underlying problems (like slow page load speed) that you can easily fix to increase site interactions.

In this guide, we’ll review the top five web engagement data points to watch so you can optimize your site for a more positive, engaging user experience. Let’s get started!

1. Traffic Sources

Understanding how users found your site is the first step in enhancing site engagement. You likely use a variety of different marketing strategies, and by pinpointing which are most successful in driving website traffic, you can prioritize those methods. As a result, you’ll direct more interested users to your site.

Common website traffic sources include:

  • Direct traffic. When users type your website’s URL into their web browser or use bookmarks to access your site, that’s considered direct traffic. Typically, your current supporters who are already invested in your cause drive the most direct traffic.
  • Organic search. Let’s say you run a soup kitchen in Tampa, Florida. Someone looking to volunteer at an organization like yours may search for keywords on Google like “volunteer opportunities at a local soup kitchen” or “soup kitchens in Tampa” and find your site in the search results. 
  • Paid search. You may also boost your website in search results using paid search ads. Through the Google Ad Grant program, your nonprofit can unlock $10,000 in free monthly advertising credits that they can use to bid on relevant keywords. Then, when users search for these keywords, your website will show up at the top of the search results.
  • Referral traffic. By clicking on outbound links from other websites, users can navigate to your nonprofit’s site via referral traffic. For example, if a local newspaper posts a feature article about your organization online and links to your website, any user who clicks on that link will be considered referral traffic.
  • Email. Including links to different areas of your site in your email newsletters is an easy way to direct more traffic to your website. You may link to pages such as your donation page, volunteer page, events page, or your blog.
  • Social media. Your social media followers may navigate to your site via channels such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. Link to your website from your social media bios, and experiment with each platform’s tools for linking to your website in different posts.

In addition to discovering which marketing channels drive the most traffic to your site, traffic source data also helps you identify which methods you need to focus on to increase relevant visitors to your site. For example, if your email marketing isn’t driving as much traffic as you’d expect, create colorful call-to-action buttons that grab users’ attention and make it clear what next action to take once they land on your site.

2. Engagement Rate

Engagement rate measures the percentage of users who interact with your website. These interactions may include clicking a button, filling out a form, or viewing multiple pages. A low engagement rate may signal that your content isn’t relevant or informative to users, causing them to leave your site without meaningful interaction.

A good engagement rate is typically around 60-70%. However, the important thing to know is your current engagement rate for the key pages on your website and to work to improve it over time.

How to Increase Engagement Rate 

To keep users around and increase your engagement rate, follow these tips:

  • Ensure your pages load quickly. We live in a world of instant gratification. If your site doesn’t load quickly, users will get frustrated and exit your page. Increase the chance they’ll engage with your content by prioritizing quick load speed on your site.
  • Use lead capture forms sparingly. To earn potential supporters’ trust, don’t require users to complete a conversion—like putting in their contact information—right when they land on your website. Instead, allow them to explore your informative content, and save lead capture forms for pages meant to convert, such as your donation page.
  • Create interesting content. To grab users’ attention, develop captivating content for your blog, share videos about your work, and include stories about the difference you’ve made. Build links between this content so it’s easy for users to find and shows up in organic search results.

If you notice your engagement rate has been consistently low, you may want to take larger action to combat this issue. For instance, consider rebranding your site to make it more fresh and innovative. Then, compare your website’s engagement rate before and after the rebrand to test its effectiveness.

3. Page Views

Page views count the number of people who have viewed a specific page on your website within a set period of time. 

Identifying the ideal range for page views depends on the size of your audience and the purpose of each page. However, the best rule of thumb is the more engagement and views, the better.

How to Increase Page Views

To increase page views, you can implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, which NXUnite by Nexus Marketing describes as “fine-tuning your nonprofit website to perform better on search engines like Google so that more people will see your website and be able to engage with it.”

Here are a few tips to get you started: 

  • Optimize your blog content. Research which keywords your audience might be typing into the search engine. For example, if you run an environmental nonprofit, your audience might search for “how to stop deforestation” or “nonprofits helping the environment.” Once you isolate your main keywords, you can write blog content that uses these phrases so that your website appears at the top of the search results.
  • Create evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that doesn’t “expire.” Avoid using dates or referencing certain times of the year to increase the longevity of your content and ensure that users will want to read it even as time passes.
  • Maintain your website. Remaining active on your website—whether that’s by making routine updates, highlighting your upcoming nonprofit events, or regularly posting new content—signals to the search engine that your site is actively updated and maintained. 

Although it may take some time to see an increase in your website traffic, optimizing your website for search rankings makes your site more likely to reach the people who are most interested in your work, therefore increasing page views.

4. Session Length  

Session length (referred to in Google Analytics 4 as average engagement time) is the duration of time that a user spends on your website. The average time spent on a web page across industries is 54 seconds, but ideally, users will spend at least two to three minutes exploring your entire site.

How to Increase Session Length

Here’s how you can increase session length for any type of visitor to your website: 

  • Tell stories. Storytelling is an effective way to build interest in your mission and drive emotional connections to your cause. Consider writing stories about your beneficiaries, volunteers, or how your nonprofit was founded.
  • Include compelling images and videos. Did you know that video can increase the time users spend on a page by 88%? Infographics are also a great option for engaging visitors as they distill information and statistics in an easy-to-read format.
  • Link to other content on your site. Linking to web content within blog posts and other pages makes it easier for visitors to navigate your site and find relevant content. Make sure you’re including links in natural ways for a positive, cohesive user experience.

The longer a visitor spends time on your site, the more they’re going to learn about your work. By creating engaging content that appeals to your users, you can ensure that visitors stay interested in your nonprofit from the second they click on your site.

5. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate (now referred to in Google Analytics 4 as key event rate or session key event rate) details the percentage of users who complete a desired action. These actions will usually be form submissions, successful online donations, or call-to-action completions like button clicks or PDF downloads.

Ultimately, most nonprofits’ most important conversion is donating. The average donation page conversion rate is 12%.

How to Increase Conversion Rate

Here are our top tips for increasing your website’s conversion rate: 

  • Include strong calls to action throughout your website. A call to action is simply a statement that encourages someone to do something. When paired with a clickable button, calls to action can urge website visitors to donate, register for an event, sign up to volunteer, and more. Ensure your calls to action are direct, simple, and eye-catching. 
  • Make your website easy to navigate. Include a clear menu of options with pages that drive the most conversions (like your donation page) clearly labeled. To make your site more appealing to users, use themes and visual builders to create an intuitive website design and ensure visitors have a great online experience.
  • Add visuals. Visuals are a powerful tool that can remind visitors why they came to your website in the first place and increase your conversion rate. Include meaningful visuals throughout your site, but use your visual content strategically to avoid overwhelming your visitors or slowing down your site performance.
  • Be clear with your language. Cohesive and clear language is crucial to helping your visitors get where they need to go. Create web copy guidelines so your team is on the same page about where visitors should go to sign up for a newsletter, donate, or enroll in your volunteer program.

Remember: you should always design your website with user experience in mind. The easier it is to engage with your site, the more likely visitors will enjoy their interactions and continue to engage with your work. If you’ve built a trustworthy brand and a user-friendly site, you’re already on your way to increasing your conversion rate.

Understanding your web engagement data can help you optimize your website, broaden your audience, create better content, and deepen website engagement. Paying attention to these five data points will set you on the right track to providing the most positive user experience possible so each click turns into a lifelong supporter.


About the Author


Sarah Fargusson, Director of Digital Strategy at Cornershop Creative


Self-described as a “non-profit junkie,” Sarah has dedicated her career to serving the needs of the non-profit sector. Her project management experience spans a variety of non-profit management disciplines including strategic planning, community engagement, capacity building, fundraising and research. She has worked both in and for the non-profit sector at the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and the consulting firms The Lee Institute and The Curtis Group. With her ever expanding non-profit tool belt, Sarah joined Cornershop Creative to tap into her techie, creative side, while developing meaningful partnerships with her clients to help them more effectively achieve their goals.

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