6 Ways Nonprofits Can Grow With Content Marketing

Nonprofits may have different goals than traditional brands, but when it comes to content marketing their objectives aren’t as different as you might think. In fact, nonprofit content marketing drives revenue, brand visibility, and engagement much like it does in the for-profit world.

While nonprofits aren’t looking to make sales, they still must communicate a need and drive their audience to act. In some ways this task is more challenging for nonprofits because they aren’t offering a product or service in exchange. Instead, they are entirely reliant on their content and messaging to achieve results.

The good news is that nonprofits inherently have a powerful mission and message to share. Using the psychology of giving often used to drive donations, nonprofits can also enhance their content marketing strategy to grow their audience, increase engagement, and see bigger results.

Quick Takeaways

  • Most traditional content marketing best practices apply to nonprofits as well.
  • Specific, detailed storytelling is a powerful tool in nonprofit content marketing.
  • Leveraging the time-ask effect and incorporating giving options into your content can lead to larger contributions.
  • Just like for-profit brands highlight satisfied customers, nonprofits should highlight how previous donors have already made an impact.

5 Ways Nonprofits Can Improve Their Content Marketing

The Time-Ask Effect

Studies have shown that when you mention a monetary donation early in the giving process, donors begin to think more analytically and conservatively about their own resources. On the other hand, when donors are asked to share their time, it creates an experience that induces emotion.

This emotion has proven to motivate donors to give more than if they’d been directly asked for money in the first place. Researchers call this the time-ask effect.

The time-ask effect

So what does this have to do with content marketing?

Well, nonprofits must think about what the central message is across the content they share. Is it aimed solely at driving monetary donations? For many nonprofits, the answer to this question is yes.

Indeed, nonprofit content marketing should include messaging that invites people to donate funds. But it should also invite them to share their time (through volunteering, visiting a site, attending events, and more) or other personal resources that could be impactful (like knowledge or expertise).

This cultivates a giving mindset, in which donors are not just feeling the pressure of potentially giving money, but feel welcome to think about many different ways they might contribute. And that delivers on the nonprofit growth content marketing provides.

Help Your Donor Connect

If you know anything about traditional marketing and advertising, you know how important it is to create a connection between your brand and your potential customer. The same applies to nonprofits. The difference is that nonprofits are connecting their potential donors with the audiences they serve.

The connection between profit and purpose is a much more powerful driver of giving than any message focused on the organization itself. Consider the following ways to make this connection stand out in your marketing materials:

  • Attach a donation to its impact. For example, an animal shelter’s team might explain that a $5 donation could feed one dog in their care for a day.
  • Share testimonies from beneficiaries. The same animal shelter could share updates about a dog who was rescued and brought back to health.
  • Connect donors directly to beneficiaries. The animal shelter might invite donors to attend “puppy playtime” where they can meet the dogs that their money supports. Donors could also tour the facility to learn more about the shelter’s work and meet the pets’ adopters.

Not only do connections illustrate the importance of your work, but they also encourage donors to support your organization’s work instead of another. Though there are likely many organizations in your niche, yours will stand out if it shares specific examples of your unique work to connect supporters with your nonprofit. Consider sharing testimonials from your volunteers or staff members to connect supporters with your distinct efforts.

Tell Detailed Stories

Storytelling has an unmatched ability to motivate donors to act. It goes beyond illustrating the emotional impact of their contributions; storytelling can transform donors’ perspectives of a donation into that of a tangible change. To make your content even more impactful, you might:

  • Be specific.
  • Talk about individual people and scenarios.
  • Use media content like images and videos, since content that includes visuals gets 72x more views than text-only content.

For example, consider this video created by World Bicycle Relief. It tells the story of Georgina, a widowed dairy farmer whose life was significantly changed when she received a bicycle.

Georgina’s story doesn’t ask for anything specific from the donor. Rather, it creates a connection between the viewer and the organization’s cause. The video uses emotion to demonstrate the importance of World Bicycle Relief’s mission. It motivates the viewer to act without making an explicit donation request.

Leverage your nonprofit’s social media accounts and website to tell stories that impact your audience. Think of these visuals as your nonprofit’s portfolio: use them to explain what your nonprofit does, why your mission matters, and how viewers can help.

Single Homelessness Project created these Christmas charity eCards to promote in their content marketing and raise donations.]

You might also provide open-ended requests for donations, such as a write-in option in your website’s donation portal. That way, donors are free to donate however much they are willing and able to by entering a custom donation amount.

Communicate Options

An important lesson in nonprofit content marketing is knowing your audience. Nonprofits communicate their need to a large audience full of people with different motivations, personal backgrounds, and giving capacities. In this case, using your content to communicate the many options people have for contributing to your organization can capture great results.

Provide suggested giving levels that allow donors to choose the donation amount that’s right for them. For example, you might create charity eCards that cost $5, $10, or $15. This variety of prices allows all donors to participate in the fun of eCards.

Share Impact Publicly

In the same way that people look for reviews before purchasing a product or service, donors want to ensure their contributions will be used for their intended purpose and will truly make a difference. That’s why they’ll look for resources to reassure them that your organization is trustworthy and effective. You can leverage this behavior as a marketing strategy by:

  • Explaining what happens after a donation is made.
  • Providing testimonials from other donors or volunteers.
  • Sharing the perspectives of beneficiaries.

You can also link your nonprofit’s achievements to your supporters’ contributions to show donor appreciation—appropriate recognition benefits both donors and your organization by encouraging continued support and expanding outreach. An engaged donor will naturally advocate for your organization and get others involved.

Proving to potential donors that your organization will deliver on its promises will strengthen their confidence in your nonprofit and its mission.

Broaden Your Requests

The first step in developing a content marketing strategy is determining what content your nonprofit will share. Your content shouldn’t only include messaging that invites people to donate funds. You should also encourage them to take certain actions with your content, such as:

  • Volunteering
  • Visiting a website
  • Offering knowledge
  • Contributing expertise

These requests cultivate a giving mindset in which donors feel welcome to think about the many different ways they might contribute to your cause. Leverage the ever-evolving digital marketing tools at your disposal to bring awareness to your organization’s nonmonetary needs.

For example, eCardWidget highlights digital eCards as an effective donor engagement strategy, since branded eCard templates can be adjusted to include any message. You might craft eCards to invite supporters to volunteer events, lead a workshop, or speak in a panel hosted by your nonprofit.

For more content marketing ideas, ask your existing supporters for their feedback on the new marketing materials. They’ll provide valuable insight into how your marketing strategy is received and what adjustments would make your content even more effective.

What’s the Takeaway?

Nonprofit organizations have goals and marketing strategies that differ in many ways from those in the for-profit world.

But when it comes to content marketing, nonprofits can leverage the very same best practices that traditional brands are using to accomplish their own unique goals.

If you’re ready to jump-start your nonprofit organization’s content marketing strategy, check out our Content Builder Services or schedule a free consultation to learn how Marketing Insider Group can help!

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

1 thought on “6 Ways Nonprofits Can Grow With Content Marketing

  1. A better spin on #2: make the donor FEEL the victim’s feelings. Those sappy commercials work so well for a reason… they make you feel.

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