November 26, 2013

Content Marketing: Changing the Game for Nonprofits

For nonprofit companies, there is often a great deal of pressure to do as much as possible with a limited number of staff members and resources. In addition to marketing through traditional means, such as print and television advertising, content marketing has become an essential tool in helping nonprofits spread the word about their mission.

In fact, a new study from the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud revealed the following information about how nonprofit professionals in North America are using content marketing:

  • 92 percent of nonprofits use content marketing
  • 91 percent use Facebook to distribute content
  • 65 percent are producing more content than they were just one year ago

While nonprofits are increasingly turning to content marketing as a way to boost brand awareness, there are still challenges surrounding the marketing strategy that they must overcome. According to the aforementioned study, while 69 percent of these organizations have a designated staff member to oversee the creation and/or distribution of content, only 25 percent of nonprofits have a documented content strategy.

Failing to implement a comprehensive content marketing strategy, though, can significantly hinder the success of your efforts. Moreover, not having a fully-baked plan can lead to inconsistent brand messaging. To help jumpstart your content marketing strategy, ask yourself these three critical questions:

Who is your audience?

For nonprofits, a great place to start is with your current donor base. What type of content does your audience enjoy? Whether its videos, featured articles, or blog posts, take a moment to figure this out as this will prove important when crafting custom content. 

Where is your audience?

Once you determine what type of content your audience will engage with, it’s important to identify where it’s best to reach them. That can be through an e-newsletter, your company’s website or social media, among other vehicles. And while it’s important to cover all of these bases, you also want to figure out how you can most effectively target existing and potential donors.

What is your timeline?

There are as many nonprofits as there are great causes and while every issue isn’t time sensitive, it’s important that your nonprofit plans ahead. Consider the following:  When is the next big campaign? When is the next event? Plan out what content marketing materials you will distribute in order to promote such endeavors and spread the word about your cause.

Now that you know how to put your content marketing strategy into high-gear, the next step is creating and distributing compelling, custom content.  The Red Cross is a great example of a large nonprofit taking advantage of social media to spread its cause and engage with donors.  Let’s take a look at how it interacted with donors after the tragic tornados in the Midwest.

The Red Cross: Using Social Media to Help those in Need

When the tornados hit the Midwest November 18th, the Red Cross posted a Facebook message, letting its 500,000 plus followers know about ways in which they could help. The nonprofit also spread word about its American Cross Tornado App. By engaging with donors directly through social media, the organization was able to spread brand awareness and, more importantly, let its current and future donors know where they could donate money. In fact, there’s a “Donate Now” button right on the American Red Cross Facebook homepage. What could be more convenient?


A lack of organization in content marketing could come across as a lack of commitment. Donors and supporters could soon wonder: “How come an e-newsletter wasn’t sent out in reaction to this event? How come Twitter was updated last week, but Facebook hasn’t been updated for a month?” Moreover, for many nonprofits, updating social media and distributing content marketing material is more of a matter of “finding the time” instead of being part of a concrete, dedicated strategy. 

However, following the three steps mentioned above and crafting a robust strategy can help create consistency and unified brand messaging. In this new content marketing landscape, it can be easy for nonprofits to feel like the underdog. But with a little preparation and a lot of teamwork, you’ll be able to excel in this brave new world. 

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Comments powered by Disqus

Related News