The 2019 novel coronavirus is the first global pandemic since the internet, specifically social media and mobile internet usage, became standard across most of the world. Now being predicted as the largest trend in Google search history, COVID-19 is revealing just how virtual the world has become. We’ve put together a brief but extensive guide for nonprofits transitioning to a fully digital operation.
Advertising During COVID-19
In the age of fake news, Google has been busy removing false and harmful content from its search engine result pages. It has also implemented new policies and procedures, including prominently displaying World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and updates on search terms about coronavirus in order to give accurate and reliable information to the public.
For those still advertising on Facebook, ad reviews may be delayed because Facebook has sent home all of its contract workers who review ads. Ads in the Facebook Ads Manager enter the review process every time a change is made, so it is recommended that advertisers limit changes to their campaigns. Google Ads advertisers can expect similar delayed timeframes for change to their ads, particularly for ads with videos or images.
All Google Ads directly related to COVID-19 fall under Google’s Sensitive Events policy, regardless of whether the network is Search, Display, or Video, and would not be allowed to show unless there was a specific exception from Google beforehand to be whitelisted. Despite the new restrictions, now is as important as ever to improve your SEO and not only advertise to what is trending, but keep up with more virtual ways your supporters can support your organization. With the spread of the coronavirus, nonprofits have seen a 10% increase in search ad impressions and a 23% increase in search ad conversions.
What to do With Canceled Conferences
As the country and planet adapt to a new way of living in social isolation, nonprofits need to adapt their services offered, particularly conferences and galas, despite the pandemic coming at the start of the season. Instead, organizations can offer webinars and take questions in real time. There are many services that work well, but if you already have a YouTube channel, consider using Google’s guide to hosting virtual events with YouTube.
If moving online is not right for your conference and you have instead postponed, you can still advertise for the conference with a waitlist. A newsletter works the same way, asking supporters to sign up for updates as to when your conferences or fundraisers will be taking place.
Update Your Fundraising Tools
If your nonprofit’s services include meeting individually, phone sessions may not be personal enough. Aside from the obvious Skype and Google’s Hangouts Meet, which has been extended as a free service to all G-Suite members through July 1st, there is video conferencing software that is compliant for many industries, including mental health counseling.
Virtual tours are one way to replace physical traffic with online traffic. A museum that relies on ticket purchases in person and donations may suffer during a shutdown. If the museum were to add a virtual tour and add a compelling ask for donations during this time, it could assist in their lost revenue.
Update Your Site
An easy way to capture more organic traffic during this time is to update content on your existing pages with related search terms. For example, if your organization has a landing page about their work with deadly disease outbreaks such as ebola, add new content explaining what you are doing about COVID-19 and a call to action to support your mission.
If your organization does not deal in pandemics, you can still provide your community with valuable facts. Right now you can embed a micro-site about COVID-19 from the CDC on your website. Since it’s in an iFrame it’s not going to help your nonprofit rank for any 2019 novel coronavirus keywords, but it could be helpful if your organization wants to have updated, accurate safety information for the community.
Update Your Supporters
Keeping your supporters updated during this time is key. Ask your online traffic to subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media to keep updated with what your organization is doing and when you will be open to the public again if you rely on face-to-face interaction. Thanks to online crowdfunding, you can still hold fundraisers and ask followers to donate if you feel you have enough engagement, or ask your followers to start their own fundraisers on your behalf.
There’s no doubt that the 2019 novel coronavirus will affect nonprofits and the way they function, but never before have they had the tools to continue their work during a global outbreak. The digital shift has given many nonprofits the opportunity to persist in their mission through social distancing and economic downfall.
Update: April 7, 2020
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working hands on with our clients to navigate through the impact of COVID-19. We have seen organizations create and implement continuity plans and even pivot services or fundraisers at the drop of a hat. One thing’s for sure, we know that the important work you’re doing is essential to providing relief for those you serve.
We’ve been working directly with Google in order to vet organizations we currently work with who are providing a direct response to the pandemic, and have successfully acquired exceptions to bid on COVID-19 and Coronavirus keywords. These organizations now have additional potential to reach the individuals they serve and donors who want to contribute to relief.
Although many organizations are not equipped to provide services related to medical or financial relief, many nonprofits do provide services that can be helpful for the millions of Americans under stay at home orders. If your organization sells food, advertising to people looking for deliverable quarantine snacks is a great way to boost sales and increase brand awareness. For museums that cannot create a virtual tour, a short weekly podcast discussing one work in an exhibit or collection at a time can improve engagement online and get followers on more social platforms to view the piece you address.
While we are always looking for strategies to help you continue to reach clients and donors, we also understand that many organizations are experiencing loss of revenue due to cancelled fundraisers or change of services. For nonprofits who are facing financial hardships, we’ve compiled these ongoing lists for resources for assistance:
- Candid has begun compiling a list of emergency resources for COVID-19, including a list of funding for nonprofits.
- Google has a list of resources to help your organization transition to being completely online, with tools to connect with your volunteers, employees, and board members, tips to bringing fundraisers online, and more.
- Inside Charity has also put together an ongoing database of information for NGOs, ranging from communication and leadership from a distance to fundraising in a crisis.
- GivingTuesday has announced #GivingTuesdayNow, a day for global giving and unity specifically in response to COVID-19, which will take place May 5th, 2020.