The State of the Canadian Web Nation

About 90% of your major donors are visiting your website before making their first gift. But almost half of you don’t have a web strategy in place.

Are you okay with this?

Probably not. And you’ve probably heard stats like this before. You maybe even quote them. You also probably have no idea where they came from, or if they’re accurate.

Nearly a year ago, my colleagues Fraser Green, Todd Jamieson, and I decided we could no longer simply work with unreliable or incomplete statistics and benchmarks, and that you shouldn’t have to either. So we decided to poll Canadian charities to get a better sense of what the state of the web nation actually is.

The goal was simple: determine website baselines and benchmarks for the Canadian charitable sector.

It’s Here! Canadian Website Benchmarks Are Here!

More than 500 charities from across the country of all different sizes and from a variety of sectors took the time to complete the survey.  We asked a total of 26 questions about everything from website strategy and revenue tracking to metrics and digital fundraising activities.

We’ve crunched numbers, looked at the data while standing on our heads, and today we’re pleased to share with you the findings (full report here)

Key Findings

If you’re not into reading the entire report right at this very moment, let me give you the low-down. Here’s a snapshot of the bad, the good, and hopes for the future.

Let’s start with the not so great

It likely won’t surprise you, but charity websites are not delivering when it comes to donor expectations.

Organizational leadership has remained skeptical of the power of digital, while many on the front lines are struggling to meet the needs of donors with little investment. Strategies are not in place, and organizations are struggling to create and maintain meaningful online spaces.

  • Only 27% of respondents say their charity has a web strategy in place
  • 60% of respondents say web is not valued by organizational leadership
  • Half of respondents are embarrassed by their charity’s website
  • Most respondents indicated challenges in using and integrating different web tools, such as social media, search engine optimization, and data collection
  • The number one website challenge faced by organizations is capital investment and cultural buy-in

Give me the good news

Despite the challenges mentioned above, it seems like many of you are already on the right track.

  • Almost 2/3 of respondents say they use some kind of open source content management system for their site
  • Over half of charities are using custom-built or customizable web donation forms, which means built-in ability to respond quickly to online donors
  • 50% of charities are using social media, and 1 in 3 have integrated these platforms into their websites

Yes, there’s hope for a brighter web nation

We’ll let the data do the talking, but it’s clear that we’ve got a long way to go to ensure our websites are in the best shape to welcome and convert visitors into donors. While many charities are missing the mark, responses indicate that there is a great desire to make change.

  • 40% of respondents said they tried to focus on user experience in designing their website
  • 60% said they were using forms of storytelling, but want to incorporate a lot more
  • More than half of respondents update their website at least once a week, and 1/3 say that this is easily done by anyone in the organization
  • About 50% of respondents are seriously working towards becoming mobile-friendly, and really need to be moving in the direction of becoming mobile-optimized

To find out more, you can download a free copy of the 2014 State of the Canadian Web Nation from the Good Works website.

After we walk you through the big picture findings, we explore eight things you should think about and that your charity can take action on today. This is all about helping you to create the case of why your website matters to your bottom line.

And then, for those of you who like to dig into data, the full report includes responses from all 26 questions in nifty graphs and charts with a quick analysis of why this particular benchmark is relevant to your cause.

The Tipping Point is Here

  • It’s 2015, and our approach to our websites hasn’t changed much since 2004
  • We’ve had five Harry Potter movies since then, people! Harry has slayed the Dark Lord, but we’ve yet to tame the web dragon
  • Your website should be your primary and most important communications asset. Increasingly, it plays both a direct and indirect role in your fundraising activities
  • All of this culminates with the donor – and right now she is on your website. Are you confident she’ll make it through the donation process, or will she leave and never return? Let’s welcome her, and keep her happy. Your website really does matter

PS – We’re going to be repeating the benchmarks in 2016. Drop me an email if you want to take part!

Holly Wagg
Chief Digital Architect & Philanthropic Counsel
Good Works
Holly Wagg (CFRE) is a consultant at Good Works - a Canadian fundraising and communications agency that builds human connections between donors, causes and charities. Although she had an 8-track player in her childhood bedroom, she doesn’t consciously remember a time where you couldn’t fundraise without the internet. Given her involvement in start-up and grassroots organizing, the digital realm has always been a part of her efforts and expertise. Prior to joining the Good Works team in 2012, Holly has spent 17 years managing the funds development and/or communications shops at ArtsSmarts, National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA, Canadian AIDS Society and Girls Action Foundation. Holly co-founded the Ten Oaks Project in 2004 for which she was honoured with a lifetime achievement award in the queer community before she cracked 30.