i have the pleasure of working with some of the largest retailer and publisher brands in the US. but on occasion i have the opportunity to work on something a little different. i don’t know if this has ever really been covered on the blogosphere (i haven’t checked), but i thought i’d write a post regarding non-profit (or not-for-profit) organizations and search engine optimization.

as a website whose core is not to “sell” anything, in reality “sales” and “conversions” are every bit as important for an NPO website as they are on any retailer website. driving traffic to NPO and trying to convert the visitors to make a donation is the name of the game. very similar to a retailer driving traffic to their site and hoping that visitors will buy their products.

what makes an NPO unique within the world of search engine optimization?

the fact that they raise money for a cause, not for financial gain’s sake, and the fact that many people can relate to goodwill causes.

so what?

these ideals are what make NPO’s a “natural” for gaining quality, relevant inbound links as well as gaining the attention of viewer’s merely by making users aware of their organization.

i can try all i want to get people to link to a retailer site and the success rate is painfully low. but, i can target the right websites and request a link back to an NPO and the success rate is much higher.

in addition, most if not all NPO’s have third-party affiliations of some kind, who are more than happy to link to the NPO site. these affiliations can be in the form of corporate sponsors, politicians, government agencies, celebrities, etc. a large pool of possible high-quality inbound links. and for no cost.

wow, aren’t all us website owners jealous now? (i am)

but seriously, the pool of resources available to an NPO is just endless. retailers could only hope to have this kind of influence over inbound links (even if they paid for them).

but the opportunity/advantage doesn’t stop with links, it can also manifest itself in an NPO’s ability to drive traffic to their site by increasing awareness on the web.

what NPO’s understand all too well is the idea that more people would donate to various causes if they were aware of their existence.

for an NPO to fund a documentary or any sort of traditional media tactic (TV, print, radio) costs a lot of money but an NPO can run press releases on a regular basis and distribute them over the web for low cost. via syndication an NPO can release a tremendous amount of awareness-type information to the masses for very low cost.

in addition, the creation and distribution of video is much cheaper now than it ever has been. the opportunities for NPO’s to disseminate their video assets and increase awareness is great.

also, just like retailers who get in new product every year or season, medical breathroughs and environmental discoveries happen on a regular basis. these are the opportunities for NPO’s to “spread the word” via the web.

in short, non-profits should take heed and realize the vast potential that SEO can hold within their organization and its long-term effect on fund raising.