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Ten ways your nonprofit can start - or might already be - delivering content marketing

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Most marketers today understand that content marketing has moved past the ‘buzzword’ stage. Content marketing is a viable – and important approach that can allow nonprofits to achieve goals such as:

  • Connecting with supporters and stakeholders
  • Driving traffic to websites
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Building trust
  • Establishing your organization’s position as a leader or expert
  • Nurturing relationships with cause champions
  • Increasing financial support
  • Providing education

But if you don’t think of yourself as a content marketer yet, don’t worry. Since content marketing is all about creating valuable content that attracts audiences and is useful to them, you might already be in the game!

Here are 10 ways your nonprofit organization might already be delivering content marketing:

Articles on your website

Are you already sharing educational content about your cause or issue? By doing so, you’re establishing your organization as a trusted, valued source of credible information, so don’t neglect this side of your organization’s website. Keep your library of educational content up-to-date.

Articles on other websites

As a modern PR pro, today you are as likely to be pitching your stories to bloggers as you are to traditional media. Pitching your nonprofit’s stories for publication on blogs and news sites is a smart way to get in front of new audiences and link back to your organization’s website. Keep an eye open for opportunities for your experts and thought leaders to contribute content to other websites or blogs.

Print newsletters or magazines

While many organizations are increasingly focused on digital communications, print is still alive and well for certain audiences. In fact, in the ‘everything old is new again’ spirit, print may just be the new way to stand out! Although you definitely need to evaluate the costs versus benefits (and check in with a reader survey), you might want to preserve your print newsletter or magazine if your subscribers still enjoy receiving it.

e-Newsletters

If your organization doesn’t already have an email strategy in place, the bottom line is, it should. And that strategy should include a mix of e-newsletters, email blasts and email appeals. When it comes to your e-newsletter, a content marketing approach means that you are focused on delivering useful, relevant content that keeps your organization top of mind. Note: since 48% of emails are being opened on mobile devices, make sure your e-newsletter design is mobile-friendly.

Video

How are you using video today? From simple, short teaching videos to more elaborately produced storytelling, there are many ways nonprofits can put video to use, often at relatively low cost. For inspiration, check out the doGooder Video Awards.

Infographics

Admittedly, infographics were overdone for a while, but when used properly, they remain an interesting, accessible way to present data or information visually. If your organization is heavily involved in research or data analysis and sharing, use infographics to share key highlights and takeaways – and generate interest in your core materials.

Photography and other visual content

If you haven’t already, you’re going to start hearing more and more about how every organization needs an ‘image strategy’ to stay relevant on social media. How can you leverage photos or other images to tell your organization’s story in a highly shareable way?

Webinars

If your audiences are interested in in-depth learning and training on specific topics, take your content to a larger, online audience via webinars, which you can provide live, recorded or both. If part of your mandate is to provide education, webinars can be an effective way to reach more people – and to build your email list.

Podcasts

Smartphones have made podcasts more accessible to listeners than ever. However, the podcast space is still relatively quiet, giving your nonprofit an opportunity to stand out with excellent audio content. The benefits of podcasting for nonprofits include affordability, the opportunity to offer existing content to new audiences, and deeper connections with listeners due to the longer, more intimate content consumption experience.

Blogs

Have you added a blog to your nonprofit’s website yet? Blogging allows you to provide fresh, new content for your website visitors, and keep them coming back. Bonus: a blog can serve as a hub for many of these other forms of content marketing – a place from which you can share videos, podcasts, infographics, visual content along with news, announcements and other updates. Hubspot has a handy free ebook about blogging for nonprofits for beginners.

Which content marketing tactics should your nonprofit implement?

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud delivered a comprehensive report looking at the content marketing practices of nonprofit professionals in North America. They’ll be releasing the 2015 report very soon, but for now, we can still glean valuable insight from the last study, including the following.

The most effective nonprofit content marketers use the following tactics a great deal more frequently than their less effective peers:

  • Videos (80% vs. 60%)
  • Articles on other websites (59% vs. 38%)
  • Blogs (58% vs. 38%)
  • Infographics (43% vs. 18%)
  • Online presentations (43% vs. 19%)

If you’re delivering some of the tactics listed above, but don’t really feel like a content marketer yet, what’s missing? The difference between traditional marketing communications and content marketing is a heavy emphasis on providing useful, valuable content that audiences look forward to receiving. ‘Selling’ or ‘asking’ still has a place (and is necessary), but the emphasis is on content that provides true utility.

Successful nonprofit content marketing needs a plan

What’s next? To be a successful nonprofit content marketer, you need a plan. Start with clearly defined content marketing goals. Then, consider which tactics will be most effective when it comes to reaching your audience and delivering your messages? What do you have the capacity (human resources, time, budget and skills) to deliver and on what schedule?

As you create your plan, remember two things:

  1. You’ll need to be both generous and consistent with your content, and
  2. Short-term payoff is unlikely, so keep going and don’t be discouraged.

Content marketing is a worthwhile, but long-term effort.

Additional resources:

Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity. Marlene specializes in helping nonprofits to produce better content and has worked in the sector since 1999. Marlene’s approach is to work with clients and community members, tapping into the knowledge and wisdom they already possess, to help their communications ‘flow’. You can also find Marlene on Twitter or Facebook.

Photos (from top) via iStock.com. All photos used with permission.

Please note: While we ensure that all links and email addresses are accurate at their publishing date, the quick-changing nature of the web means that some links to other websites and email addresses may no longer be accurate.

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aboden@sfu.ca aboden@sfu.ca
As a volunteer board member at a small, Canadian non-profit, I found this article very timely, useful and full of practical advice. Many thanks for writing it!
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marlene@moflow.ca marlene@moflow.ca
Thank you, Andrew! I'm so glad you found it useful. Happy content marketing!
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