QUICK SHOT: 4 Best Practices for Nonprofit Digital Analytics

How to track, measure and target your ideal donor

By Mindy VanderHoeven, Director of Digital Analytics and Operations

When it comes to tracking digital marketing efforts for nonprofits, it can feel like we’re playing a never-ending game of cat and mouse. At BDI, our Digital Team regularly attends digital marketing trainings and conferences to keep up with the latest updates that affect our client partners.

But as a nonprofit, you may not have time to keep up with all those updates! From iOS updates to privacy concerns, the rules of the game keep changing. How do you keep up with the latest digital analytics best practices for nonprofits

Despite these challenges, digital analytics is still a vital piece of the puzzle for nonprofits to understand the impact of their digital marketing program. After all, in today’s world where digital fundraising and online donations are on the rise, it’s more important than ever to know how your campaigns are performing.

So what can you put in place to better track, measure and target your ideal donors? Let’s look at some digital analytics best practices for nonprofits that will help you stay ahead of the game and make the most of your digital marketing efforts. 

1. Use Google Tag Manager 

Using Google Tag Manager is a must for you to effectively optimize, track and report on your digital marketing program! Google Tag Manager is a tool that allows you to add one set of code to your website and donation page so you can manage all your tracking in one place. 

It is crucial to have this type of tracking set up as it provides insight into the donor’s path and enables you to report on revenue generated from digital ads. Using Google Tag Manager allows you to track:

  • Last-click revenue, or which touchpoint a donor clicked on before donating
  • Revenue for a donor who returns (they might have clicked on an ad and then came back to a donation page later to give)

Using Google Tag Manager is a digital analytics best practice for nonprofits because it allows you to track your digital marketing efforts – plus optimize your digital ads. Google Tag Manager makes it possible to target previous website visitors for re-engagement and discover new potential donors who resemble recent givers. 

To ensure that you can set up Google Tag Manager, it is vital that you have a donation platform that supports the ability to add this code to the forms. Without this important piece, then you are losing out on reporting on and finding better donors online.

2. Set up a subdomain for your donation platform 

When setting up online donation platforms for BDI’s client partners, we recommend using a subdomain rather than embedding the page on their website. A subdomain means that the actual donation form is on another server, but the URL will look like a donor is still on your website (for example, give.mission.org). 

Using a subdomain instead of embedded forms has several advantages and is a better option for better tracking, including:

  • Providing an additional layer of security for sensitive information such as donor information and payment details
  • Overcoming cross-domain tracking issues
  • Improving donor experience with faster load times, mobile-responsiveness and less friction

Setting up a separate subdomain for your donation pages is an important digital analytics best practice for nonprofits. Doing so makes it easier to track your online giving success and discover the most valuable insights.

3. Get ready for Google Analytics 4 

Using Google Analytics to track your website data is also a must! It provides valuable insight into your website traffic, donor behavior, conversions and marketing efforts. 

The current version of Google Analytics will be retired in July 2023 and will be replaced by Google Analytics 4, so make sure that you have this set up now and are ready for this change. GA4 is tailored to meet the increasing need for advanced tracking and privacy protection. (Click here to learn more about GA4.) 

A few benefits of Google Analytics 4 include:

  • Cross-device tracking: GA4 provides a more comprehensive view of the donor journey across multiple devices.
  • Enhanced data privacy: GA4 protects users by not storing their IP addresses and relying on first-party cookies rather than third-party cookies. 
  • Machine learning-powered insights: GA4 uses machine learning to automatically identify key trends, making it easier to gain actionable insights.
  • Advanced attribution models: GA4 gives you the option to choose your own attribution model, so you’ll gain better understanding into how different channels are performing.

If you haven’t already, make sure to set up your GA4 property today!

4. Improve your donors’ digital experience

With all the changes in digital, it is more important than ever for nonprofits to focus on providing better digital experiences for their donors. Improved digital experiences can lead to increased engagement, higher conversion rates and better data collection, all of which contribute to a more accurate and effective tracking process.

A few ways to improve your nonprofit donors’ digital experience include:

  • User-friendly websites: Ensure your website is easy to navigate and provides a seamless experience for the donor.
  • Optimized donation pages: Make sure that your donation pages are mobile-responsive, load quickly and are easy to use.
  • Personalization: Use data and analytics to personalize the experience for each donor, whether it’s through targeted messaging or customized landing pages.

By focusing on these areas, you can provide a more enjoyable and efficient experience for your donors and achieve better tracking results.

Final thoughts

Investing in a strong donation platform that supports tracking and provides a positive user experience is essential to your nonprofit’s digital marketing success. These steps will allow you to track and measure the impact of your campaigns, leading to valuable insights into donor behavior, digital revenue from ads and overall marketing effectiveness. 

Don’t be intimidated by the ever-evolving digital landscape – embrace the power of data and analytics and use the information you gather to drive your organization’s success. By following these digital analytics best practices for nonprofits, you’ll be better prepared for what’s to come and be well on your way to finding the right donors, tracking your efforts and making a greater impact!

Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “3 Ways Organic Social Media Can Help Your Nonprofit”

  • Mindy Vanderhoeven

    Mindy Vander­Hoeven, Director of Digital Analytics and Operations

    Mindy offers more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising with experience on both the agency and the nonprofit side, having previously worked at Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. Mindy draws on her knowledge of direct response, analytics and digital marketing to guide clients in their digital fundraising programs and utilize smart, strategic efforts.

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