Survey: Less Than Half of Nonprofit Websites are Responsive

Google recently announced it was altering its search algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites. As more users move to mobile devices and tablets, pages need to be responsive and adjust for whatever size they are being displayed.

Unfortunately, based on survey results conducted by Nonprofit Hub, nonprofits have a lot of work to do to make sure their websites still appear near the top of the search results on Google.

Responsive

Only 42 percent of respondents said their website already includes responsive design. While 47 percent said their site isn’t responsive, the good news is that almost half of those people said they plan to address the issue during the next year. In some grim news, more than 12 percent said they didn’t know what a responsive design meant. (Here is a quick primer in case you fall into that category. And don’t stop with just responsive design, make sure your entire online presence is mobile friendly.)

The responsive design finding was just one of many takeaways from the survey conducted through the Nonprofit Insider Network. The questions covered many technology-related topics including cloud services, website usage and processing donations.

Websites

Even though their sites might not be responsive, nearly everyone said they have an online presence. Only 10 people (three percent) said they don’t have a website, and seven said their site is in progress.

SiteMost nonprofits said they view the primary function of their websites as a way to provide educational content and inform the community about their mission. A small percentage view the website as a way to promote upcoming events (nine percent) and processing donations (7 percent). Despite the focus on spreading their mission, only 35 percent said their website was either very effective or effective at growing their mission. Half of the respondents said their website was only somewhat effective.

WordPress is used by 124 of the respondents as a content management system, which was 64 percent of the respondents for the question. Digging into the comments, however, 34 people didn’t know what their nonprofit used as a CMS tool.

While it is great to be online, it isn’t doing much good if your site isn’t functional and doing what you want it to do. Before ordering a brand new redesign, clearly define what your nonprofit wants out of a website and then figure out how to achieve that. If you are in the content education business, develop a way to manage that system and ask around to other nonprofits to pick out what best fits your needs.

Financial Transactions

When it comes to donations, paper still trumps technology. More than 68 people said their highest volume of donations comes in via checks, while another quarter said it was the second most popular donation method. Online credit card is the second most popular method, clocking in with 20 percent of nonprofits saying it is their highest volume and 42 percent saying it is number two. Cash was the clear number three option, ahead of in-person credit card transactions and ACH.DonationMethods

To get those online donations, PayPal was the clear top choice at 42 percent of respondents. The next option was using a merchant provider such as Heartland Payments or their bank at 23 percent. For those that do online donations, only 52 percent said they have a process set up to handle recurring transactions. However, in-person credit card transactions favored the merchant provider (29 percent) and Square (21 percent).

Because most nonprofits are reliant on donations to make ends meet, it’s important to have cater to as many types of donations as possible. Whether it’s online or in person, make sure your nonprofit caters to the donation needs of your clientele. The best form of donations is regular, recurring donations because it’s money you can count on and budget for, it’s best to have a way to handle recurring transactions.

Daily Technology

More than three quarters of the respondents said the first or second biggest technological challenge is hardware issues, which includes printers and computers locking up and crashing. That figure includes almost half of all respondents (47 percent) said it was the biggest challenge they face. More than half of the respondents said their top two issues were software updates (26 percent said it was the top challenge, 32 percent said it was No. 2)

GooglesGoogle is doing quite well in the world of nonprofits. Almost 60 percent of the nonprofits surveyed used gmail, while just more than half (51 percent) use Google Docs. Microsoft’s products are still popular choices, but their email platform lags behind its documents. Microsoft Office 365 is used by one third of nonprofits, but Outlook is used by 26 percent.

Part of the problem with the daily technology might stem from the fact that only 19 percent of nonprofits surveyed have a full-time IT person, while another 29 percent rely upon an employee who also has other non-technical job duties. Almost 32 percent contract an outside company for their IT support. Finally, 20 percent of nonprofits use either volunteers or board members for IT support.

Technology is a key part to help many nonprofits so it is important to invest in the people, programs and equipment to make your nonprofit run smoothly. Always keep your eyes peeled for new products that can help your NPO run more efficiently, but don’t get so caught up in switching to a new platform that you are constantly learning new software.

Data Tracking

The respondents were also split on those who use data to track organization growth. While only 48 percent said they use data to track trends such as fundraising, website visitors and responses to marketing campaigns, 85 percent said it was either very important or important to collect data to track growth.

Issues

That disparity might be explained by the number of people (41 percent) who said it was difficult or very difficult to access the data to drive organizational growth. Comments said the biggest problems included a lack of time to fully analyze the data or a lack of qualified personnel. Also, 84 percent said they would like more access to organizational data.

Data organization can be tricky because new programs emerge and ways to measure success evolve. Plus, managing data is delicate balance and enough access can quickly turn into data overload. Make time to discuss the information with your staff to figure out what they want to know to better decisions for the nonprofit. Once you have input from everyone, you can begin to track data that is important to you and set up a timeline to continue regular updates.

Who Took the Survey

The survey was sent out to the Nonprofit Insider Network and garnered 341 responses during March and April 2015. The survey was completed by a variety of nonprofits, and almost a third identified as being a part of the human services sector. More than 10 percent are in education and research, arts, culture and humanities, environment and animals and heath and public societal benefit.

A third of the respondents were executive directors, with a significant portion including development directors (20 percent), marketing directors (17), operations managers (11) and board members/officers (11).

Most of the people who took the survey work for nonprofits with a six figure budget. The highest bracket was $500,000 to $1 million at 21 percent.

  • Random_Goldflake

    It’s good that Google is rewarding sites that are responsive — that is to say ‘readable’ on mobile devices. After all, who wouldn’t want a higher Google ranking? But the basic reason to do this is that otherwise their messages would be unreadable by at least half of the people online!

    BUT — it is also important to keep in mind that the end game is to get ALL of our messages in front of people in a readable format — and certainly not just to get a high ranking on Google. A good example of this disconnect is The Hub! The site itself is responsive and looks great and very readable on my iPhone — but the EMAIL from The Hub promoting this very article on responsiveness is NOT responsive and, in fact, is almost unreadable on mobile devices because the print is so tiny. So, I guess The Hub is, in essence, saying: as long as we get a high ranking on Google, we don’t worry if our emails are not readable on mobile devices!

    So my message to the folks who care about communications at The Hub: be thought leaders and set a good example for other nonprofits — and make ALL your online communications readable and not just the ones that get you a higher Google ranking.

  • Randy Hawthorne

    Thanks for your comment. To be honest, we care more about the people that receive our Hubcap email than we do about how we rank on Google. You’re our engaged audience seeking information we provide. I’m not in this to serve myself or Google’s robots. Sure, we want to reach more nonprofits and Google helps us with that. With the goal to provide nonprofit professionals with useful information to help them fulfill their missions.

    On a technical note, the emails we send are responsive, in that they adjust to the screen size. On a phone, the text is small but you can easily enlarge the text or turn the phone landscape to also enlarge the text. Can I read it without zoom? No. You’re correct. Text is small. There are limitations to the technology that we’re given and we continually look for ways to present our content in the most digestible way. We haven’t found the email software yet to do what we want it to do.

    So thank you for reading. Thank you for engaging in discourse. Thank you for pointing out that we could work on our own email delivery system. But I think you may be making assumptions about our goals for Nonprofit Hub.