Nonprofit Content Marketing: Creating a Strategy That Works

As a nonprofit, you are uniquely positioned to take advantage of an entire range of content marketing that for-profit industries may not be able to tap into. Content marketing gives you the chance to tell your story in a way that draws people to your nonprofit and encourages them to stay engaged with you.

In a nutshell, content marketing is everything you write and/or present that engages, inspires, and attracts your supporters. Content marketing should educate and should make those who work with you want to see your goal achieved. Your content marketing should pull people in and inspire them to work with you in whatever capacity you’re targeting, whether it’s volunteers, fundraisers, or sponsorships.

While some nonprofits utilize content marketing, not everyone has a content strategy or feels like they’re able to use content marketing effectively. That’s why we’re going to share tips on how to make your content marketing soar.

Focus on the Story

Nonprofit branding has the unique advantage of almost always being connected to a core goal or mission that aims to do good in the world. Whether that’s through animal rescue efforts, fundraising, or improving the health and success of less-privileged people, your story is tailor-made to resonate in both the hearts and minds of the people who find you.

So find your core statement that you want to convey, and build a story around that. For example, if you’re a nonprofit that supports after-school programs for at-risk teenagers, your core might be something like “The students we serve struggle with a school-home balance that hinders their success. We’ve seen firsthand how a nurturing, supportive environment can improve their performance and help them reach their goals.”

From there, you can build out a personal connection with your supporters. Make a video of your after-school programs. Interview volunteers and families who use your service. Write blogs that show the quantifiable impact your work is having. Don’t be afraid to get personal; these stories are what will draw in and keep donors and supporters engaged with your nonprofit.

Another great option is to focus specifically on pain points that people search for that are related to the work you do. Then you can write to those pain points and get new interactions with people who may not have heard of you before. Tools like 919 Insights can help you identify the pain points and keywords that are most important to your potential audiences!

Write to Your Audiences

Yes, audiences. Content marketing is not one size fits all; what you put in front of a volunteer may look very different than what you present to big donors or corporate sponsors. Defining the audiences you want to communicate with helps you define what content is most likely to resonate with them.

So how do you define your audiences? Creating audience profiles is a great place to start. While most nonprofits focus primarily on donors, it’s important to remember that there are a wide variety of people who can both impact your business and contribute to your nonprofit’s success. Volunteers, influencers, internal employees, and even people who are direct beneficiaries of your nonprofit’s actions are all different groups that your content marketing needs to take into consideration.

By researching and interviewing your audience, you can build a profile around their wants and needs and use that information to drive targeted content that best expresses your nonprofit’s impact and the needs this audience can fulfill. Targeted content marketing has a higher rate of success than generalized content and will help you achieve your goals faster.

Utilize Multiple Mediums

When considering where and how to share your content, it’s important to take into account all the different platforms you have at your fingertips. Is your statement best shared through a blog? A video? A tweet? A social media campaign?

Having an understanding of where your different audiences are most engaged will help you know which publication mediums to take advantage of. For example, if most of your audience is engaging with your Facebook, it makes sense to put a lot of your messaging on Facebook. If you’re seeing high engagement with campaign emails, put effort into your emails. 74% of nonprofits use email newsletters and updates to keep their supporters informed. Just be sure that you allow people who have subscribed to your emails to adjust how many or what type of emails they’re receiving; 79% of nonprofits don’t.

Most nonprofits are working with a small marketing or social media team, it’s important to know where your time will best be spent, and where you’ll receive the most engagement with your content. Keeping an eye on your engagement across multiple mediums will let you target your content with precision.

Utilize PR to Build Awareness

As a nonprofit, you have a unique advantage when it comes to PR. News organizations are often more open to pitches from nonprofits than for-profit businesses. However, many nonprofits don’t fully utilize PR, choosing to just send press releases. But just like the rest of your content creation, you should consider multiple forms of PR. Would the thing you want to share be better reflected as an infographic? A video? A Q&A interview?

Do some work and research into the journalists and reporters you want to contact. Personalize your pitch so they know they’re not getting a form letter. Assemble eye-catching assets that are easy to access. Take advantage of your supporters to get their thoughts and stories. Make PR work for you! Target outlets and influencers that vibe with your vision and goals – you’ll get good PR that will link back to you and your other content pieces, driving more people to your nonprofit. And if you need help with your nonprofit PR outreach, 919 is here to help.

Utilize Advertising Grants

As a nonprofit, you’re likely working with a razor-thin advertising budget. That’s why it’s vital to take advantage of the numerous advertising grants available, including Google’s Ads grant. You may also be able to find local, state, or federal grants that will help you make full use of your advertising.

Invest time into searching for and applying to grants. Every grant you receive is that much more opportunity to connect with volunteers, reach potential donors, and get your message out there.

Position Your People as Thought Leaders

When thinking about ways to increase your organization’s capacity and reach, consider establishing your CEO and key people within your organization as thought leaders.

What is a thought leader? Michael Brenner, CEO of Inside Marketing Group, says “I define thought leadership as a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business…to consistently answer the biggest questions on the mind of your target audience.” In essence, a thought leader is someone who can tap into your organization’s core message and use that to build trust and inspire action while becoming a trusted resource.

While establishing your organizational leaders as thought leaders is a long-term process, it can really pay off. Thought leaders can influence public policy, attract strong board members and fundraisers, and more. It’s a type of content marketing that can have huge dividends.

Think Long-Term

SEO is an incredibly useful long-term investment for nonprofit organizations. It’s a way to help you stand out against competitors that costs very little money and can have increasing benefits the longer you prioritize it as a component of your content marketing. Consider it this way – when you plant the seeds of SEO through your content, website optimization, and more, you’re giving your organization the chance to build a forest for your future.

While there are short-term SEO boosts available, like PPC (pay-per-click), these options don’t always net the best results. They can also be costly, and the results go away when you stop paying. Instead, your organization should be focused on creating and developing long-term strategies to help maximize your organic search results and overall success.

Keep Your Hand on the Pulse

When was the last time you checked the pulse of your nonprofit brand? And what does it mean to “keep your hand on the pulse”?

In a nonprofit, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your organization and putting your message out there. You can lose touch with your core audience or your repeat supporters, and in doing so lose the personal, story-driven marketing touch that helped you connect with them in the first place.

Not only can you lose your connection to your audiences, you can also fall behind other organizations in your sector. You should be monitoring other nonprofits that have similar operations or goals; if you see something working well for them, you might want to replicate it. If you see a particular trend that seems to be having a positive impact on nonprofit funding, you’ll want to grab that opportunity.

It can also be helpful to take advantage of tools like Google Trends. Search for topics or keywords related to your nonprofit and see which are most active, so that you know how to target your next content marketing piece. Doing these small things to keep your hand on the pulse of information around your nonprofit can really boost your chances of success.

Show Impact

All of this planning won’t matter if you don’t create and push for attainable goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Using KPIs to measure the overall effectiveness and impact of your content marketing strategy is vital; your marketing probably won’t be perfect from the get-go, and analyzing the successes and failures helps your nonprofit tweak your strategy until it works for you.

KPIs will also let you demonstrate visible success to your stakeholders. For example, if you set a KPI for your social media to get 1000 shares a quarter, hitting that goal lets you see measurable proof that your organization is succeeding in your social media marketing. If you set a goal to raise a million dollars through a video campaign and you hit that, that’s a success you can share with your stakeholders. Conversely, if you don’t manage to hit a goal, you can assess the content marketing around that goal and see what you need to change for the future.

Planned, well-written and organized content marketing can bring your nonprofit’s success to the next level. With a team like 919 Marketing on your side, you can build brand awareness, set yourself apart from others in your field, and see measurable success with your content marketing strategy that will last for years to come.

Every successful relationship starts with a conversation.

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