August 21, 2014


Developing a positive and proactive content strategy

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Special to Philanthropy Journal

Most nonprofits fall short on the messages they deliver. The following questions will help nonprofit leaders develop a positive and proactive content strategy.

What will you say?

Nonprofit leaders should explore the messages and themes they want to get across to their audiences. Deciding where they stand on issues important to their causes and what education they wish to relay and even developing the right message about the purpose of the organization are keys to developing content that inspires and makes an impact. And don't forget to make sure that the content is in line with the overall marketing goals.

Who is your audience?

Most nonprofits say they want to reach a general audience. The reality, however, is the majority of nonprofits don't have a marketing budget that large. Choosing a specific audience base will help to craft a message that resonates with that particular group. You can't expect to create one message that makes the same impact with women age 35-50 and young men in their early 20s. Different groups need slightly different messages even if the main point is the same. Do your research, and learn about what your audience segments care about and how they prefer to receive information.

What actions do you want readers to take?

It's great when nonprofit leaders really put effort into their communication, but often just providing content to inform without letting the audience know what to do next can fall flat. Do you want your audience to donate? Subscribe to a blog? Attend an event? Sign up to receive newsletters? Volunteer or join the board? Give your audience a way to take action. When you make it easy and clear what you want from them, you will keep them engaged.

What type of content will you publish?

If you have researched your audiences well enough, you will better understand where they most readily get their information. There are many ways a nonprofit can cost-effectively publish content - a blog, email newsletter, social networking or videos on YouTube. There are many different channels available. Some might be better for certain messages than others. It is also effective to send the same messages across different channels, tailoring the message for each.

How often will you publish?

The medium you choose will also help you decide how often to publish. A blog must be updated differently than social media, which will also be different from how often you pitch press releases or feature stories. Don't forget to plan for this and determine who is responsible for publishing this content. Remaining consistent is often one of the hardest things to do, but it is also what usually proves to be the most effective.

How will you evaluate its effectiveness?

Last, but certainly not least, is giving consideration to how you will measure the effectiveness of the content you develop. Setting clear goals at the start of what you hope to accomplish and evaluating whether you met those goals in the choices you made throughout the plan will give a clear indication of whether something worked. Make sure you give your plan enough time, though, and don't automatically assume that, because you don't have an immediate increase in donations or volunteers, or whatever the goal might be, the strategy isn't working. Your message often needs to be heard a few times - and in a few different formats - to be most effective. 

SHOESTRING (the nonprofit's agency), a Philanthropy Journal Supporter, is a branding and PR agency that specializes in and exclusively serves nonprofit organizations. Stacy Jones is a senior project director at the San Antonio, Texas, office. She can be reached at nonprofitexperts@shoestringagency.org or 1-888-835-6236. 

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