Is Your Nonprofit Prepared for a Cookieless Future?

By Ilia Jones | August 2021


You've probably noticed that in the last couple of years, suddenly, every website you visit has a cookie requirement for your browsing experience. And you've probably had to add a popup or banner on your nonprofit's website to allow your visitors or accept or decline cookies.

While Google has announced a delay in phasing out third-party cookies from early 2022 to 2023, this is something that your organization should be preparing for. 

What Are Cookies and How Are They Used?

For a 101 level refresher, cookies are small packets of data that are transferred between the website and your internet browser. These cookies are stored by your web browser and help the website remember you track your visits and activity on the site. These cookies are used in website analytics to track session length, button clicks and repeat visits. Cookies can also be used to drive marketing personalization

So, as a marketer, cookies provide valuable information. Now, what will we do without them?

Review How You're Currently Using Cookies

The first step toward preparing for a cookieless future is to take stock of how you're currently using them. Review your website to determine which analytics cookies are driving. Then, take a look at the strategy behind the cookies and how you are relying on them to track website visitor data. 

Another consideration is to review where you are using third-party cookies, which Google will be phasing out, versus first-party cookies, which will stay. 

It may be wise to nominate a person on your marketing team to manage the transition from cookies toward whatever comes next. This person can educate themselves and operate as a Subject Matter Expert for your nonprofit to ensure a smooth transition. 

Review Your Third-Party Relationships

Since third-party cookies are on track to be phased out, these are the types of cookies that you should focus on creating a new plan for. If your partners haven't reached out to you with a plan for a cookieless future, it might be time to contact them and find out their strategies. 

Review your list of partners and vendors, research how they are currently using cookies, and start to dig into their plans for the future. Since the phase-out will not happen until 2023, there's no need to sever ties abruptly. But knowing whom you rely on and what cookies they use can prepare you to adapt to their solution or find an alternative when the time comes. 

Make Sure You're Collecting First-Party Data

Since third-party cookies are in jeopardy, take a look at how much ownership you have over the donor relationship. Do you collect first-party donor data? If you are working with a partner or vendor to manage it, you may want to take a closer look to see if you actually own it. 

Why is this important? First-party data will become the key to being able to offer a tailored experience in the cookieless future. This data will enable you to provide what your donors want when they want it. 

Find Innovative Ways to Replace Third-Party Cookies

For years, third-party cookies have provided access to website visitor information and other behaviors that make personalization and a tailored experience possible. With the phasing out of third-party cookies, this wealth of information will disappear. However, that doesn't mean that you have to give up on the benefits of that data. 

On the contrary, collecting that data will still be perfectly legal and above board—you simply need to find new ways to get it. Memberships, loyalty programs, fundraisers, events or exclusive content are just a few ways your nonprofit organization can collect donor information. You may even already be collecting data in some of these ways today!

Heading into A Cookieless Future

Although Google has delayed the phasing out of third-party cookies, it is inevitable. The best thing you can do for your nonprofit organization is to learn more about cookies and how you are using them. Once you know how your organization relies on cookies, you can start to brainstorm ideas on how to move forward without them. And, if you have questions or want advice on how to prepare your website for the cookieless future, we're here to help. Contact us today to learn more. 



Topics: Nonprofit Help