Content is king. So marketers say. An effective content strategy for nonprofits of every type and category can prove to be highly successful at receiving a good amount of donations by reaching people who are eager to help.
Content helps you build expertise and authority in your niche, allows you to share news and tell stories to engage your audience as well as build new supporters through appearing in the search engines for relevant search terms.
Why is Content Important for Nonprofit Organizations?
More than any other organization, marketing for nonprofits is all about building trust. Your donors and supporters care deeply about your cause and need to trust that you are doing important work worthy of their donations. Your content allows you to talk directly to your supporters in an authentic way where you can demonstrate the work you are doing at every opportunity.
At a time where trust in charitable organizations is yet to recover to pre-2014 levels and recessions have hit countries due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to have a robust marketing strategy that involves constantly creating high-quality content that satisfies your current supporters and builds new ones.
6 Simple Steps to Creating an Effective Content Strategy for Your Nonprofit
Making a content strategy that will work effectively for your nonprofit is the first step toward creating great and consistent content. These 6 simple steps coupled with some useful tips will help you get started.
- User Personas
- Decide on the Right Social Channels
- Have a Website with Great Content
- Use Video and Podcasts
- Press Strategy
- Email Strategy
Step 1: User Personas
Before diving into creating content mindlessly, you and your whole team need to have a strong idea of what your average supporter is like. This involves looking into demographic and behavioral information that you can access from the data you have on your current supporters.
Take a look at:
- Who engages with your social media content?
- If you have a mailing list already, who all signed up for it?
- Who has visited your website (using Google Analytics)?
- Which supporters have made regular or large donations?
- Have your supporters organized fundraising events in aid of your organization, if yes, then who are they?
- Are there more male or female supporters?
- What age are they?
- Where do they live?
- What’s their education level?
- What are their interests?
- Which news and media channels do they consume the most?
- What device do they most frequently use to engage with content?
- All of these questions will determine the marketing channels you decide to use and the content that you create.
Good donor management software like Donorbox helps you effectively filter donor records based on their donation frequency, number of donations, donation amounts, location, and donation time frame. It can be an added advantage in case you’re looking for in-depth data regarding the donating nature of your donors, as well as a way to improve engagement. Here’s how it looks.
Step 2: Decide on the Right Social Channels
Instagram: Getting visual
Instagram generally has a younger audience so is a wise choice if your supporters fit into a younger demographic. It is the best social media for visual content as it consists of posting photographic or video content. If you are able to capture lots of this type of content (which you should) then you should be using Instagram. Additionally, the Instagram stories feature; where posts are shown for just 24 hours, allows you to give snappy and regular updates.
Twitter: Good news source
Twitter is a good place to follow accounts related to your organization for the latest news in your niche. You can also contribute your work to the conversation and expand your network as a result. Twitter is a great place to network as well as build your audience.
Facebook: Getting personal
Lots of people are declaring Facebook as dead, but the data says otherwise. Facebook is definitely worth having for your organization. It offers a variety of tools such as the ability to collect reviews, set up events and groups – all of which can be incredibly useful for nonprofits.
TikTok: Boosting engagement
TikTok is the newest kid on the block that leans heavily towards quick-fire video content and with the highest engagement rate per post than any other social media, it isn’t something to be ignored, particularly for a younger demographic. The platform has run a number of initiatives to support nonprofit organizations, such as TikTok For Good and Hashtag Challenges where users create their own content to show support for campaigns.
Step 3: Have a Website with Great Content
In this day and age, you absolutely need a website – and today it’s much easier than it used to be. There are plenty of easy and low-cost website builders out there to choose from. Your website needs information about you, your contact details, and content about your cause and the work you do. That’s where blogging comes in.
It is essential to have a blog and posting regular articles and updating old ones. But with over 600 billion blog posts out there, it can be really hard to break through the noise with your blog. There are a few steps you can take to make sure both your audience and Google love your blog content.
What do your donors want to know?
As well as appealing to Google’s algorithm, more importantly, you need to think about your donors. What are their frequently asked questions? What content have they engaged with the most on social media? Use this information to come up with content ideas to satisfy their needs.
Educate people on your cause
Your blog is a great place to inform and update your supporters on the progress you are making and general information about the cause you are supporting. You can use Reddit to highlight queries people are asking on different topics, use Ask the Public which gives you data on frequently asked questions, and look on your social media for frequent queries.
Doing keyword research allows you to find low-competition phrases that have high search volume – in other words, the low-hanging fruit. Put simply, these are phrases that a lot of people are typing in that don’t bring up hundreds of resources already. You’ll need to use a tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or free tools like Ubersuggest for this.
- Don’t write thin content: thin content is content that has little-to-no value to the user. It doesn’t delve into a topic or offer enough useful information. Google doesn’t like it, and your users won’t either. Ensure your content offers enough depth around a topic but is broken down with subheadings so it is digestible.
- Keep content snappy: often when reading online, people scan pages rather than read them line-by-line. That’s why it’s important to use short sentences and break down paragraphs to make this scanning for information easier.
- Vary it up – use video and imagery: getting messages or stories across by video is very effective. Research has found we retain 90% of what we see via video compared to just 10% by text, so it is well worth using video to show your work to supporters.
Step 4: Use Video and Podcasts
Podcasts have seen a boom in popularity over the past few years – it is expected that by 2025, 125 million will listen to podcasts at least once a month.
The benefit of podcasts is they are easy to create – all you need is a podcasting microphone and some sound recording software and there are plenty of free or low-cost tools such as Garageband, Audacity, and Studio One. You can interview guest speakers in your niche and discuss a variety of topics that are interesting to your audience. If you’re planning to focus on interview podcasts, Podcastle is another great tool for recording remotely. You can record in high-quality, host up to 9 guests, get a separate track for each and edit your audio files into a publication-ready podcast online.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google and a great way to show impact, educate people and tell stories about your cause, so you’d be making a mistake not to consider video in your content strategy. In fact, with YouTube, you can collect online donations too. Click here to read and follow the simple steps.
Step 5: Press Strategy
Nonprofit organizations need clout to build donors. Being cited and referenced in relevant publications in your niche helps build trust and credibility for the organization. Gaining press means being able to build relationships and wow journalists with your press releases. Unless you are particularly competent in this area, it may be worth working with an external agency or consultant who has built up relationships over time in such an industry.
But you can start on your own by simply building up press lists of relevant people in your niche. You can find people on websites’ ‘About’ pages, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Segment your press list into top-tier (larger publications), mid-tier and low-tier. The way you contact each tier will differ. Anywhere that you can personalize in your emails is worth doing – this helps cement relationships and shows publications you’ve done your research.
Read our well-researched blog on how to write a stellar nonprofit press release that’s sure to make an impact.
Step 6: Email Strategy
Emails have always held a remarkable position in content marketing strategies. With time, it has not lost its shine but only emerged with newer and trendier techniques and tools. Let’s see how email strategies can help you ace nonprofit content marketing.
Some say email mailing lists are irrelevant and ineffective. But the data says otherwise. Email is still one of the most direct ways of marketing to people who have expressed an interest in your organization.
You should integrate your email provider with your database, donor management platform, or CRM. This allows you to keep up-to-date data information on supporters that can be accessed from one place.
You can gain subscribers through having a sign-up form on your website that is easy to find and fill in and can be promoted on your socials. Here are some more tips to maximize email marketing:
- Aim for quality over quantity
- Personalize wherever possible – their name as the bare minimum
- Thank your donors for their support in every email
- Deliver news updates/ show them where their money is going
- Include a CTA at the end
- Never add anyone without asking permission
Reddit can be a great place to find out what discussions are going on in your niche. Find subreddits that are relevant to you and take a look at repeat topics and what’s being said about them. This can be really useful to come up with blog topics.
Over to You
Marketing nonprofits isn’t easy, particularly when many are stretched for staff and resources. But in the long run, strong marketing will help build awareness and increase support for your organization. Having a solid plan focused on the marketing priorities and with your audience in mind at all times is essential if you want to stand out and communicate the importance of your work.
Please refer to our nonprofit blog for useful resources and tips on nonprofit management.
Ella Patenall is a Content Writer for Website Builder Expert, a site that helps people create websites and make a success of it through cutting-edge advice and research. She writes on content marketing, SEO, and customer retention. In her spare time, she writes a music blog and plays guitar in an acoustic duo.