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December 4, 2022

Developing a Content Strategy For Nonprofits

If you're like most nonprofit professionals, you wear a lot of hats. You're responsible for fundraising, marketing, program development, and dozens of other important tasks. It's hard to find time to add content marketing to your already busy schedule. But it's worth taking the time to develop a content marketing strategy that will help you reach your goals. In this blog post, I'll discuss some tips for developing a successful nonprofit content marketing strategy, even if it means hiring a nonprofit SEO expert.

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Who am I?

Hi! I'm Sam, and I've been working as a scientist at an environmental nonprofit for seven ish years. In that time, I've worked on program development, content marketing, and research-based content development. As the only scientist on staff, I bring a unique, experimental mindset to search engines and content marketing strategies. I work closely with our Marketing Director to create an effective content marketing strategy for our nonprofit organization and our furthering organization's mission.

Why you should care about building a nonprofit content marketing strategy - even if you're a tiny organization

It can be really hard to think about things like search engine results when you're considering marketing tactics. Our number one goal sometimes is just keeping the lights on. But to raise awareness, we need a good mix of nonprofit marketing strategies including:

  • email marketing
  • content marketing
  • direct mail
  • keyword research
  • social media platforms
  • video marketing
  • inbound marketing
  • other digital marketing efforts

SEO, or search engine optimization, has to be an important part of how you're developing your web pages, blog content, and editorial calendar. If not, you're missing out on a big opportunity to build a winning strategy for your nonprofit and develop high quality content that matters to your organization's story.

From a survival strategy to a thriving strategy for your nonprofit

Many nonprofits work on shoestring budgets. Our budget gets eaten up by administration and staff costs -- and rightfully so! We all need to eat! But it leaves only a little for program expenses. This can lead to a survival mode mentality when it comes to content marketing. You're stuck in the "just make sure we have something" mindset and it's hard to see the long-term strategy.

But what if you could use content marketing as a way to go from surviving to thriving? What if you could leverage your content for fundraising over multiple years? What if your blog posts drew new people to your mission? Content marketing tactics are all about building the long term vision and establishing your nonprofit as a thought leader in your space.

In the past few years, I've watched my organization, Dogwood Alliance, shift from a surviving to a thriving blog strategy in the last few years. Our blogs used to be haphazard leftovers from program goals. They were often hard to read, and while they did match our organization's mission, they were written so inaccessibly that Google search engine couldn't understand them, and neither could our target audience.

Now, we have a plan. We have an effective content strategy that focuses on optimized, easily read blogs that provide valuable content to our audience. We release consistent content, we use all marketing channels to promote our blogs, and we even highlight other nonprofit organizations on our blog. We highlight personal stories from impacted communities and overall, just have a beautiful, full fledged content strategy and marketing strategy for that content. I love it. And I've been a part of it.

How we did it

It took a while for us to develop an effective content strategy. But it's not actually rocket science. First, you need to take a look at your existing search results. Does your nonprofit show up in search results for your key terms and key messages? Are you on page 1? Page 10? In the search engine world, you need to be on the first three pages or you're pretty invisible.

Second, you need to build up your content strategy based on your audience AND your mission. For us, that meant developing a biodiversity series. While we aren't explicitly focused on saving biodiversity at Dogwood Alliance, we are committed to protecting the communities and forests of the US South - and that means that our audience will be interested in the wonders of our natural world.

Third, you need to support your nonprofit content marketing strategy with your other nonprofit marketing strategies. Use email marketing, Google Ad grants, and your social media distribution channels to get the word out about your key messages to your target audience.

Fourth, you need to analyze. If your blog topics are going great, spend some time repurposing content to build on the strength. If your audience loved that article about birds, write more! And tie it into your mission.

Fifth, recognize that you can hire a freelance writer or SEO expert to help you smash your nonprofit marketing goals. Written content by freelancers (like me!) is surprisingly affordable, and may actually be cheaper than having your staff write or be heavily involved in content creation. Many people do offer discounts to the nonprofit world, too. If you're interested in freelancing, reach out and see if I can help you!

Final thoughts

Don't worry, I'm going to keep writing about developing a content strategy for nonprofits just like yours. Nonprofit content marketing is a very important piece of the nonprofit marketing puzzle. It's not a "nice to have" anymore. It is an essential tool for your nonprofit mission, and it's something that you need to build into your long-term strategy.

Content marketing for nonprofits can be extremely rewarding, and yield amazing results when done well. If you want help creating a content plan, or if you just have questions, please reach out. Initial conversations help many organizations **just like yours** orient their organization's goals towards content marketing. I can help you find free tools to stand out against too much competition. You'll be able to raise funds, work at attracting visitors, and find a new, cost effective strategy to increase support for your organization. I'm here when you need me!

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