Nonprofit revenue and giving has been increasingly volatile since the pandemic and its aftermath. The most recent Giving USA report suggests the future is even rockier:
- Total giving declined 3.4% in current dollars (down 10.5% after adjusting for inflation)
- Giving by individuals declined 6.4 percent in 2022 (a decline of 13.4 percent, adjusted for inflation)
- Individual giving has been declining as a share of total giving for several years. It dropped to 70% of total giving in 2018, which was considered low, and has steadily decreased since then, falling further in 2022 to 64%.
With these declines in individual giving, nonprofit budgets have been stretched. To make the most from a smaller pool of donors, nonprofits are seeking improvements to drive dollars and engagement online.
One area we’re focusing on is optimizing website design and the user experience, particularly for nonprofits eager to engage supporters and convert donors. However, the donor journey does not always get the attention required to improve performance as organizations wrestle with competing priorities amidst other marketing technology initiatives. A well-designed, user-friendly website improves donor engagement by providing easy navigation, relevant information, and clear calls to action. Enhancing these user experience elements is vital to maximize the impact of your organization’s marketing efforts, and for fundraising in particular.
For several years, Google Optimize has been a valuable tool, offering A/B testing, conversion rate optimization (CRO), and other site experimentation at low or zero cost. Unfortunately, Google announced the product will sunset on September 30, 2023, adding to the challenges faced by nonprofits in generating revenue.
The sunset announcement has left many nonprofits scrambling to figure out how to effectively and affordably improve their websites. Despite Google’s commitment to third-party A/B testing integrations, as of the start of July 2023, no solutions with feature parity and affordable price points have emerged yet.
To help nonprofits navigate the post-Google Optimize era, we are helping nonprofits evaluate alternative testing platforms. We consider several factors, primarily cost, core testing features, user experience, and an overall assessment of fit for each organization and its business needs. While cost reflects quality and available testing features, organizations must assess their budget, testing priorities, site traffic volume, site architecture complexity, and capability to execute testing and optimization in order to determine the right price point.
Recommended Testing Platforms
Based on our assessment of the marketplace, two tiers emerge: robust platforms whose products scale to serve the largest enterprise brands, and providers with more modest tools that offer comparable capabilities to Optimize with lower pricing.
The top tier includes Optimizely, VWO and AB Tasty. We see Optimizely as the leader among these three. Optimizely offers a package with comprehensive features for organizations that are seeking to run a serious optimization program with complex user experience testing across multiple audience segments, iterative design capabilities, and enough site traffic to reach significance. Although the cost will represent a sizable increase from Google Optimize, the corresponding lift in conversion rates can easily cover this investment.
Data from Wappalyzer suggests that after Google Optimize, the two testing platforms most frequently used by midsize to large nonprofits are Optimizely and VWO. This is likely because VWO offers a free tier that provides up to 50k monthly tested visitors, providing a good option for orgs who have a modest testing program and are not able to invest in a paid subscription. AB Tasty has far less adoption among nonprofits, as their focus is on servicing enterprise organizations and commercial brands where product sales may take precedence.
Nonprofits with limited budgets may also consider Crazy Egg, which provides low-cost options based on tracked page views per month. In addition to A/B testing, Crazy Egg’s suite of tools also includes heat mapping, screen recordings, CTAs, and goal tracking.
Another platform to consider is Posthog. Posthog is a recent entry to the market, founded as an open source project in 2020. Posthog’s primary differentiating feature is its focus on privacy. It offers a suite of traffic analytics tools for privacy-conscious organizations that want to own their tracking data. Posthog also offers a subscription cloud version that includes A/B testing for paid plans and a generous discount for nonprofits. While Posthog does not yet have much traction in the nonprofit sector, its pricing currently appears to be the absolute lowest available for a large-scale program, and may provide a cost efficient opportunity for first-movers.
Preparing for the Transition
As nonprofits prepare for the transition away from Google Optimize, evaluating alternative solutions and planning budget allocations are crucial steps. Exploring various tools and their pricing models will help organizations make informed decisions. While the era of free testing tools may be ending, testing and optimization have become more essential in capturing and keeping supporter attention and engagement. Nonprofits must embrace a culture of testing and allocate the necessary resources to ensure continuous improvement.
The nonprofit sector faces challenges in the ever-changing landscape of digital fundraising. As Google Optimize approaches its sunset, nonprofits must adapt and seek alternative testing platforms to optimize their websites. By focusing on user experience and embracing a culture of testing, nonprofits can continue to drive engagement, improve conversion rates, and achieve their fundraising goals in the post-Google Optimize era.