Content Marketing for Nonprofits

content-is-king-1132258_1280When I was heavily engaged in the management of a nonprofit, content marketing was the furthest thing from my mind. Truth be told, until a few years ago, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what content marketing actually was. As it turns out, the organization that I worked for was probably missing out as a result of this oversight. So, why would a nonprofit need content marketing anyway?

Nonprofit Organizations and Content Marketing

Content marketing is essentially a business process. Creating content that a target audience wants to read and distributing that content through the right channels drives traffic and produces leads. But if an organization isn’t driven by profits, what purpose would this serve? Well, I can’t think of a single nonprofit organization who couldn’t use more donors, or community advocates, or clients, or volunteers.

With over 1.5 million nonprofits in existence in the US, competition is fierce, so nonprofit organizers need to do whatever they can to get, and hold, attention.  Only around half of American nonprofits will experiment with content marketing this year, and fewer still will actually incorporate content marketing into their overall marketing plan. Not surprisingly, those organizations with a documented content marketing plan are generally large, well-known and successful.  The thing about organizations like this is, they usually got this way because they understand what works.

Where does this leave smaller, newer nonprofits, who don’t have large marketing teams and substantial resources to devote to this tactic? Well, there are several things that development staff, organizational leadership and even volunteers can do to start the process. The best part is, they are all relatively inexpensive.

Plan and Communicate

Even in the grassroots phase, any nonprofit that wants to succeed needs to set aside some time to brainstorm and document ideas. Half of successful marketers meet at least weekly, but it’s less about time and more about communication. If teams discuss content marketing, they are more likely to develop and stick with a plan. Meeting regularly will also allow everyone involved in the process to vet ideas and avoid duplication.

Research

Top-tier nonprofits know who their audience is. They also know who their competition is. Knowing who to target is essential for developing effective content. Researching organizations who are great at what they do and figuring out what kind of content they are producing, and where it ends up, is a great idea. It’s also important to discover what the goal of each piece is. Is there a call to action? Is there a link to a donation page or email sign up form? All of this data can be compiled to develop a killer content marketing strategy.

Guest Posting

Starting a blog is intimidating for many nonprofit leaders, even though it shouldn’t be. That’s why many start by writing some guest posts for other blogs. Chances are, any nonprofit worth supporting has some subject-matter experts involved. These are the folks that they should be asking to write guest posts. It’s an easy way to link build an audience, establish an organization as a thought leader and even get some links back to as website. Whether it’s an educational journal, a partner’s blog or a major publication, it’s vital that guest posts are distributed to sites that the target audience finds credible. Once the post is out there, it’s time to share. Social media is great for this.

Social Media

Speaking of social media, every nonprofit organization should have social media profiles. Not only should they be connected, they should be utilized. Social media is not just for kids these days. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like are used by 65% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64, for example. The fantastic thing about social media, besides its potential to reach a large audience quickly, is that it’s the perfect place to distribute content, written by the organization and other relevant sources.

Now that I’ve outlined some basics, I can’t wait to hear how they’ve worked for your nonprofit organization. Give content marketing a try. If you stay flexible and dedicated to getting results, you won’t be disappointed.

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