About 90% of your major donors are visiting your website before making their first gift. But almost 1/2 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 (I don’t and I’m guilty of this, too).

Nearly a year ago, my colleagues Fraser Green, Todd Jamieson and I decided we no longer could simply work with unreliable or incomplete stats 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 benchmarks and best practices for the Canadian charitable sector.

It’s Here! The 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.

Download your copy of the 2014 State of the Canadian Web Nation benchmarks report

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.

1) 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. Organisational 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 organisations 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 organisational leadership
  • ½ 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 organisations is capital investment and cultural buy-in

2) 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 ½ 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

3) Yes, there’s hope for a brighter web nation.

We’ll let the data do the talking, but it’s clear 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 ½ of respondents update their website at least once a week, and a 1/3 say that this is easily done by anyone in the organisation
  • 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, be sure to get your free copy of the 2014 State of the Canadian Web Nation.

After we walk you through the big picture findings, we explore 8 things you should to 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.

Join the Webinar

If you happen to be an auditory learner, and want the chance to ask questions, join us on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 from 2-3pm EST for a free webinar hosted by CanadaHelps. During this one hour, we’ll walk you through how your charity measures up.

The Tipping Point is Here

It’s 2014, and our approach to our websites hasn’t changed much since 2004. We’ve had five Harry Potter movies since then, people! Harry has slain 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.


About Good Works. Good Works is dedicated to the amazing potential that exists among donors, the causes they care most about, and the charities they choose to advance those causes. We’re storytellers who know better than anyone how to use your story to raise more money, by connecting with your donors’ hearts and souls. Whether through traditional direct response, legacy marketing, online fundraising or case statement development, we’ll tell your stories in a way that will make your donors love you. www.goodworksco.ca

About Envision Online Media. Since 1999, Envision has created more than 500 websites for small- and medium-sized organisations, including hundreds of charities and non-profits. We live right where web technology and marketing come together. Our professional team is passionate about search engine optimization and design as well as web development, which allows us to provide a truly holistic web service for our clients. www.envisiononline.ca