In a world driven by data, nonprofits who possess the power to decipher analytics insights shall chart the course of success. Through the lens of numbers, the organization shall unveil hidden truths, shape strategies, and forge connections with unwavering precision. The future belongs to nonprofits that embrace the prophecy of analytics, for within its depths lies the path to enlightenment and triumph. – Jodie A. Mason, 2023

Deciphering analytics requires true skills. But the first step before nonprofits can begin the deciphering process is tracking data that matters most to the organization. With the rollout of Google Analytics 4, analytics data collection is unique to every organization. Here is a list of 21 actionable ways nonprofits can use Google Analytics 4 data. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should help start the process of moving beyond reporting vanity metrics.

How To Use Google Analytics 4 For Nonprofits

Every method listed is to help nonprofits optimize donor or audience acquisition. You need people who champion your organization, whether they donate or not. Champions are the people who will talk about your cause, drive people to your events, and even participate in volunteer opportunities. In-person is different from online. The nonprofit’s goal is to learn about online users and why they resonate with your organization or it’s content.

Methods For Nonprofits To Optimize Site & Content – Google Analytics 4

  1. Learn what people are downloading, who is signing up for the newsletter, watching videos on the nonprofit’s website.
  2. External links that lead from your website,
  3. Search Engine Optimization (Pagespeed, Organic Keyword Rankings, On Page Optimization)
  4. Content analysis – learn the best and worst performing content, and develop content around your audience. Discover what content formats work the best for the nonprofit’s users(written, how-to guides, audio, video, visual – images, infographics, tables, etc.). If the nonprofit has a Google Ads Account for Nonprofits (or even a paid account), use keyword data to find gaps in your content.
  5. Organic and social media are not the only two ways people reach the nonprofit’s website. Google Analytics 4 is a valuable resource to determine which sites are sending traffic to the nonprofit’s website. Referral marketing through backlinks can be the best way to connect with people.
  6. Google Optimize goes away in the Fall of 2023. Google has not given an update on the replacement (or if it has plans for a replacement version). You can arguably do A/B and multivariate testing by using GA4 BigQuery data. Most nonprofits would need to have someone code the implementation, but you can run an A/B test with segmented audiences and feed the data back to Google Analytics or in BigQuery. There are third-party companies that do A/ B testing such as HotJar. 
  7. Microsoft Clarity is like HotJar. Both heatmap platforms can send analytics data to GA4. Heatmaps give nonprofits a visual representation of how users interact with a website. Clarity sends data on the heatmap ids. Nonprofits can look at a segment of GA4 sessions, then map those sessions to heatmaps and video recordings from Microsoft Clarity. If your nonprofit would like a free heatmap tool, Clarity is the way to go. Need a more robust solution, then give Hotjar are try. 

User Engagement With GA4

  1. Social media platform algorithms are developed to keep users on the platform. Social media’s intent is not to drive traffic to your website. Nonprofits can apply the same tactics to engage people on the nonprofit’s website. Google Analytics data is one of the best data sources (besides 1st party data) to feed to machine learning algorithms. Most nonprofits’ technology stacks aren’t ready for ML, but predictive analytics is the future. So it’s best to plan. 

Use GA4 Robust Ecommerce Data For The Nonprofits Online Store & Donations

  1. Analyze online donations
  2. Does your nonprofit have an e-commerce store? Find out the best and worst sellers. Determine when sales boom or slump. Understand purchase or donation habits. Google Analytics 4 has excellent data collection for e-commerce data.

How Nonprofits Can Segment & Create Unique Audiences With GA4

  1. Every user is unique. The nonprofit needs to understand how different segments of the website’s users interact and engage online. It’s critical to segment your users into different audiences.
  2. Segmentation is a very broad category on it’s own. There is a very detailed blog post on segmentation for nonprofits. It dives into the ways nonprofits can segment data. Apply the methods to your GA4 data to get a better understanding of your audience.

Out Of The Box Donation & Fundraising Strategies For Nonprofits

  1. Hey, do you know Bing and Microsoft Edge (Microsoft’s search engine and browser, respectively) have a rewards program? Microsoft rewards program can be an additional fundraising source for most nonprofits. Bing users collect points for searching with Microsoft Edge or/and Bing. Users can choose to donate a portion of their points to nonprofits each month, starting at 1,000 points ($1). Develop a strategy to target Bing and Microsoft Edge users. No one will take action unless the nonprofit ask. Segment your audience for users who came from organic search using Microsoft Edge as the browser or Bing as the search engine. 
  2. Nonprofits who seek corporate sponsorships should have a grasp of the people that interact with the nonprofit. If the nonprofit’s cause closely aligns with a corporation’s initiatives, then the nonprofit looks better aligned to serve the core users the corporation may want to reach. Know your real numbers. If you are leading the nonprofit’s corporate sponsorship program, you have probably been asked about key performance indicators such as total website visitors, time on site, who is the core audience, and what you have learned about the people the nonprofit serves.

How Nonprofits Can Use Google Analytics 4 For Personalization & 1st Party Data

  1. Number 11 relates to number 10. Google browser will go cookieless in 2024 and we will lose Google-provided audience data such as Interest Categories, and Affinity Categories. Gender and age will no longer be accurate. Instead, run surveys to build the nonprofit’s 1st party data about your users. Google Analytics 4 can assist with measuring and collecting data from the surveys. There are over fifty ways to collect 1st party for nonprofits. 
  2. Nonprofits can join email marketing data with GA4 data. 
  3. Since we are in the age of Machine Learning and this article heavily stresses engaging your audience, personalization has to be one of the ways nonprofits use Google Analytics 4 data to build their content marketing strategy. Personalization is not easy to implement and requires code development. Amazon Webservices and Google have recommendation/personalization services that can be the stepping stone to achieving scaled personalization. Feed your GA4 data to the personalization engine, tweak what works, and remove what does not. 
  4. Honestly, if you look at the raw Google Analytics 4 data in BigQuery, you will get overwhelmed by the amount of data collected on a user during one session. However, the raw data export to BigQuery is unparalleled and way better than data from the GA4 user interface. Nonprofits can create a customized analytics data model with the raw export. 
  5. Customer Data Platforms such as and Tealium assist with 1st party data collection. CDP and GA4 go hand in hand with the rollout of Google’s cookieless browser in 2024. Nonprofits need methods to collect, store, and analyze 1st party data. Holistic analytics strategies are the key to learning about your audience. 
  6. Everything discussed so far leads to one ultimate solution: Strategically thinking about customer life cycles and redefining how we think about analytics metrics. Google Analytics 4 introduces us to churn and improves our understanding of user retention. Long gone are the focus on bounce rates and pageviews/session. It’s now about the entire process the user takes to reach the end conversion. New metrics such as Daily Active Users, Weekly Active Users, and so many more were introduced. I was sad to see the bounce rate metric made its way back into GA4. 
  7. Every nonprofit talks about impact, but harnessing Impact into a usable metric can be hard. Think of the nonprofit’s website not only as the primary backbone of every marketing strategy but as the best communication tool to let the world know what your nonprofit does and who it helps. If you have an important guide or lifesaving information on your website, you can measure how many people interacted with the content. Create a feedback loop to assist with measuring the nonprofit’s impact. Let people tell their stories, build an exclusive community on your nonprofit’s website, and let people sign up for volunteer events. Think outside the box about what the nonprofit’s feedback loop should be.
  8. If you have chat widgets, contact forms. A lot of nonprofits make social media their primary marketing strategy. But when social media algorithms or ownership or popularity change, nonprofits have to pivot. The nonprofit is 100% in control of the platforms it owns – its website, email marketing list, CRM databases, and more. 

Jodie provides auditing, restructuring and building PPC campaigns for nonprofits. She focuses on driving awareness to content, events, and important areas of your nonprofit organization's website. In her spare time, she loves baking awesome cookies, reading, and learning new tech topics! What question is she pondering at the moment: Are Hexa- chocolate (5 types of chocolate) chip chunk cookies, too decadent?