Getting into content marketing can be daunting, especially for nonprofits. After all, it’s easy for businesses to create content, right? They have the resources and know-how to do so.
Not so fast.
Nonprofits might have the upper hand when it comes to creating blog posts, videos and other pieces of online content. Here are three reasons why nonprofits should excel at content marketing:
There is a great TED Talk by Simon Sinek that all nonprofit professionals should see. In the video, Sinek lays out his concept of a golden circle: a visualization of the three aspects of verbal and written communication.
The golden circle consists of the “what,” “how” and “why.” All organizations have a “what” and “how,” but only a few have a “why.” The organizations who have a defined “why” and who lead all communications with their “why” are the most successful.
That’s why Apple is a more popular brand than Dell, for example. They’re both computer companies, but Apple challenges consumers to “think differently” by never failing to avoid the status quo when it comes to their products.
One major edge nonprofits have over all other companies and organizations is that they all have a “why.” They all have a purpose. It’s what drives their mission. Luckily for nonprofits, the best content marketing is centered around a “why,” not a “what” or a “how.”
The most successful content marketers create content that is educational (why), not promotional (what/how). Blog posts, videos and infographics that get the most views and shares do so because they provide valuable information, as opposed to being promotional or solicitous.
Take, for example, a food bank. A potential article on their blog could be one of the following:
- 5 Things You Should Know About Our Food Bank (What)
- 5 Things You Should Know About The People We Serve (How)
- 5 Things Every Parent Should Know About Early-Childhood Nutrition (Why)
Which of the three do you think would have the broadest appeal? Which do you think would get bookmarked? Which one would be viewed as a resource? Which do you think would generate more search engine traffic?
If you guessed #3, you’re on your way to being a successful content marketer.
There’s a time and a place for the content found in #1 and #2, but #3 has the greatest chance of introducing your organization to those who don’t yet know you, while at the same time building credibility.
Nonprofits carry more institutional knowledge than any other type of organization.
For example, if your nonprofit raises money for Alzheimer’s research, your employees probably know a thing or two about Alzheimer’s. If your nonprofit creates water wells in Africa, you probably know a thing or two about sanitation and hygiene. If your nonprofit recruits tutors for at-risk youth, your employs probably know a thing or two about effective educational practices.
Harnessing the power of your internal subject-matter experts is the key to generating high-quality content on a regular basis. Not only will the content be authoritative, but you can spread the work of producing it amongst several individuals.
In order to work at a nonprofit, which requires sacrifice and carries its own set of unique challenges, an individual must be truly passionate about the cause. That passion can be harnessed and channeled towards content generation. Who do think is more likely to write a blog post: an executive director who cares passionately about the mission she serves, or a 9-to-5 for-profit employee who sits in a cubicle?
There are few things that can attract new employees, volunteers, donors and cause-based marketing partners better than passionate content being written and shared online.
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How To Get Started
There are a few ways nonprofits can start dipping their toes into the content marketing waters:
- Start blogging. Even if it’s once or twice a week. Not sure what to blog about? Check Quora.com and search for the topic or cause your nonprofit serves.
- Make a video. You don’t need an expensive video camera or production company. Google+ Hangouts On Air make producing videos easy and free.
- Create a survey and publish the results. Insights into the opinions and knowledge about the mission you serve would not only be valuable to your organization, but to the public as well.
If you’ll be in or around Bridgewater, New Jersey for the AFP New Jersey 33rd Annual Conference on Philanthropy, be sure to catch my session on content marketing for nonprofits!