As a nonprofit, you have a passion. That passion has become your mission. But how do you get other people excited? And how do you garner support?
Storytelling is as old as time. Our words paint pictures. They inspire and motivate. We remember powerful lines from history “I had a dream this afternoon…” “four score and seven years ago…” and “one small step for man…”
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is really just a fancy way to describe writing and publishing on your website or preferred social media platform.
Just because we call it blogging for short, doesn’t limit content marketing to 2,000 word articles on your website. It can be a 120-character tweet, an original photo on Instagram, or a live stream video on Facebook.
“Content marketing is a strategy to write, produce, coordinate and share various content types (such as blog posts, social media updates, videos, photos, reports, and infographics) to attract and engage your community.” Farra Trompeter, Big Duck
Where should you publish?
Writing gives an organization a voice. It’s true that you can publish on Medium, LinkedIn, or Facebook. It can be a great way to experiment and test audiences. Honestly, it can be the easy way to start, pre-site build.
The important thing to understand, however, is that those free platforms don’t belong to your nonprofit. You are at the mercy of their own funding. Anytime Medium decides to quit, everything is gone. Remember how everyone loved Katch.me for Periscope? It’s gone now and so are the archived videos.
Branding and Ownership
When considering where to publish your writing consider ownership and Branding. Starting at your website rather than on Medium or LinkedIn empowers ownership. And with WordPress you have control at the root of the content to make updates, changes and add additional features.
With a few more WordPress tutorials, you can manage, archive and even add design elements around the stories about your Cause. When the content is on your website, donors can easily find your online donation form and give! By combining content marketing with fundraising goals, your web property, which you own, becomes the digital version of your office building or weekend fundraising event.
Why should my nonprofit blog?
Publishing content on your nonprofit’s website is a great way to communicate with like-minded people, focus your mission, and gather a base of supporters. Blogging, or content marketing, is one way to use storytelling to engage your audience.
- Thought Leadership.
There is power in the written word. Published content has more credibility. A freelancer publishes to position themselves as experts. Nonprofits publish to show their expertise in fundraising. You’ve worked hard and sharing your successes and stories of change will bring awareness to your cause. And encourage others to do the same. How cool is that?
“Nonprofits have the most compelling stories on the planet — and stories are the heart of a successful content marketing strategy, according to Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute.” Frank Barry, Content Marketing Institute
Content marketing is a fancy term for education. Describing your cause is education and can lead to conversion and, more support. Your cause is your passion, right? With education you can change “your passion” to “our passion.”
The more you publish, the more people can find you through search, other blogs, and social media. In the small business and freelancing world we call this exposure. But for your nonprofit, support is a better fit. You not only need financial support, but you want to gather like-minded people who will volunteer and champion your cause to others.
Audience & Content:
When it comes to audience you have two options:
- Write and your audience will find you.
- Find your audience and write for them.
It’s true that you can start with your target demographic or persona in mind. Who is the person who will support your cause? If your cause promotes healthy oceans then the people who may support you might also enjoy sea life, marine biology, surfing, and environmental causes.
When it comes to audience size, don’t be discouraged to start small. In many ways, an emerging nonprofit is akin to a tech startup. It doesn’t matter how many hits your posts get; it matters who reads your posts. The right audience is the best audience.
Who in your organization can write?
The key to this is using your resources: online, offline, etc. Once your web property is set up, anyone can publish — you can determine who manages those WordPress user roles: admin, editor, author.
There are several ways to go about curating this content from your organization. Perhaps your founder doesn’t feel comfortable writing but loves to tell a story. In this case, you can record her telling a story and a volunteer can transcribe it. With your point-and-shoot camera or iPhone you can film your founder, upload the video to YouTube, and embed and publish that content on your website.
If budget is your issue, call for volunteer writers. There are many people who believe in your cause but aren’t sure how they can help. They may give this time as an in-kind donation. You never know until you ask, right?
“Organizations are spending between 10 and 20 percent of their fundraising budgets for digital strategy next year. Almost three in four respondents said that digital strategy would comprise less than 20 percent of the overall fundraising and acquisition budgets this year.” Mark Hrywna, Nonprofit Times
Another way to tackle written content is to open up a Google Account for your organization. Jason Tucker recently spoke at our meetup about nonprofit resources. Google has a nonprofit discount program. This gives your organization access to Google Drive among other things. Google Drive is one of the best ways to collaborate with volunteers. They can add content without being in your WordPress dashboard. When the story is edited, a staff member can add the content to your web property.
“Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more. These tools can help you reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your nonprofit’s story.“
Repurposing content is a great way to conserve your resources. Every piece of content you write on your web property (blog) can also be repurposed on Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the new darling of the social media platforms comes along.
“Become the king of content repurposing. If you help change kids lives by making their dreams come true, then be sure to take each story and turn it into a high-quality video that you put on YouTube, a short video that you post on Instagram, a blog post (or series of blog posts), a set of Facebook images, a handful of tweets, a testimonial on your website, and so on.” Frank Barry, Content Marketing Institute
Start. You’ll gain momentum — promise. Your organization will start to drive traffic to your online donation page — without really trying. Your cause will sign up more volunteers. Donations will increase. You’ll be more inspired to write. Rinse and repeat.
Writing can be done ahead of time by anyone in your organization. Really. Team leaders and volunteers can tell their stories. Be creative. Have fun. Tell your story. Use your passion.
Blogging Takeaways for Nonprofits:
- Write often and publish regularly. Start off with once a month. Increase as you can.
- The more you write, the more likely your audience will find you.
- Communicate your passion through storytelling. How did your efforts affect the community? How can people help?
- Use your resources to tell your story: staff, tech, and volunteers.
- Have fun.
- Tell your story.
- Just start.