10 Steps to a Content Marketing Plan for Your Nonprofit

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There is a prevalent misconception in the nonprofit world that content marketing is just for businesses and those seeking to make a profit through selling. This is not true!

The Content Marketing Institute defines the term as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Sharing relevant and valuable content which will then attract the ideal audience to your organization! Does that sound like your nonprofit’s marketing and fundraising strategy? It should!

People are increasingly tuning out traditional marketing such as mailers, billboards, and TV ads. A multichannel approach, with a variety of offline and online touch points, is now required for marketing success.

So, where to start? Here are 10 steps to get you started on a content marketing strategy for your nonprofit.

1. Identify Your Resources.

Who will create the content that you share and post? Social media and online tools are insatiable beasts that need constant feeding with great content.

What is your organization’s capacity – in staff and in financial resources – to manage a content marketing strategy? Be realistic.

You do not have to be active on every social network at all hours of the day, but you do have to have a person or persons managing this activity.

Less is more in content marketing – higher quality content that lasts longer and can be promoted more frequently does better than low quality, irrelevant posts that last five minutes.

2. Identify Your Hub.

Where will this content be housed? I suggest keeping all content on your website and in your blog.

Your website is your marketing and fundraising hub – this is where you should be directly every single person who comes in contact with a communication from your organization.

All communication, marketing and fundraising channels are spokes on the wheel getting people to the website and blog for more information and a richer experience.

3. Create a Timeline.

How often will you update your content? This goes back to #1 – who will do the work? When and how?

These are vital questions to answer. The first entry on your timeline may be “Explore starting a Social Media Committee.” Or it may be “Check out Wordpress as a blog platform.”

Start small and manageable, and work towards the actual content creation and promotion. Planning is more than half the battle.

4. Start or Revive Your Blog.

Content marketing is often driven by a blog. A blog is absolutely key to showcasing the impact of your organization and to share the stories of the great work you do every day.

A blog does not need to be updated every single day, and one blog post can be as short as 300 words and a great visual. It can even be a short video.

The advantage to starting a blog is that you will get more search traffic to your website, and you own the content.


5. Use Social Media to Promote Blog Content.

Share and promote your content on social media channels for greater reach.

Post updates on Facebook and LinkedIn with teasers about your new blog post (write “click the link to read more!”)

When sharing content on social media, do not “set it and forget it.” Automation is the cardinal sin of social media marketing!

Do not neglect to check back to answer questions and comments. Interact with your followers on all the platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn) and that will allow your fans and followers to get to know, like and trust you.   

6. Don’t Forget about Email Marketing!

Email marketing is a key piece of any content marketing strategy!

Building and cultivating an email list will help you promote your content and get more donations in the long run.

Send a teaser about your latest blog post or update to your website in your email newsletter.

You can also use a “velvet rope” policy and create exclusive, super A-List content just for your email list – give them a sneak peek into a new program or service, or a private interview with the CEO.

7. Incorporate Visuals.

Content that is well-written, accurate and compelling is very important. However, on the web, visuals rule.

Use Canva.com to create eye-catching visuals to put into your content. This will make them infinitely more shareable as well!

9. Don’t Just Share YOUR Stuff.

Post daily social media updates on other things besides your own nonprofit blog.

Continue to identify and curate information on the topics and issues that resonate with your audience, and share liberally!

10. Brainstorm Ideas for Content.

Some ideas:

  • Answer common questions: Make a list of 20 questions you think people would want to know about your organization and your issue, and answer one per post.
  • Lists: People love lists. They’re short, easy to read and provide quick information. Share a Top 10 list of ways that people can help end hunger, help the homeless or protect the environment.
  • Interview influential people: Email interview questions to influential people that work on your cause and post the Q&A on your blog.
  • Ask your community to guest blog for you: Use Social Media Ambassadors or your most passionate volunteers to submit their stories, photos, and videos to post on your blog.
  • Share your ideas and commentary on the news: Write 2-3 paragraphs about a topic in the news that is relevant to your audience, and then link to the article.
  • Use Google Alerts and Alltop.com to get more ideas!   

11. Focus on promotion.

Creating content is just a small portion of the battle! A great deal of time should be spent strategically promoting the content.

Make a checklist for all the places to share your blog post when it is published. Add to this checklist regularly.

Ensure that you are not posting the exact same language each time. Twitter requires fewer characters and loves hashtags, Pinterest focuses on great visuals and Facebook is more light-hearted and fun.

Learn the different languages and trends in each social network and post accordingly.

Content marketing isn’t just for businesses. Your nonprofit can do it too and very effectively.