The Biggest Content Marketing Mistake Nonprofits Make

sashattuck
Steven Shattuck VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Posted on November 13th 2013

The Biggest Content Marketing Mistake Nonprofits Make

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the act 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.” For nonprofits, that translate into a powerful, cost-effective method of acquiring new donors.

Many nonprofits have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon – publishing blog posts, videos and other rich media – which is great! However, one tiny misunderstanding about the nature of effective content marketing can sink those efforts before they even begin.

One of the worst things a nonprofit can do is simply transition their existing promotional content to digital mediums, and hoping that it will attract new donors. This shows little regard for the varied online audiences that your nonprofit currently has and can attract in the future.

The Three Audiences

When it comes to content, a nonprofit has three core audiences:

  1. non-donors who don’t know your organization
  2. non-donors who know your organization
  3. donors

Donor Funnel

Each audience is looking for and expects certain content from your organization. These three groups correspond perfectly to the stages of the donor funnel:

  1. prospecting (above the funnel)
  2. cultivation/asking (in the funnel)
  3. stewardship (below the funnel)

Nonprofits tend to be bottom-heavy in terms of their content: lots of cultivation and asking content (flyers, brochures, annual reports, newsletters, etc.) but little in the way of prospecting content. The good news is if you master effective content marketing, your current stewards will also draw value from that content.

Educational Content Wins Prospects

When it comes to attracting new donors, it’s important to understand that those individuals aren’t necessarily searching for nonprofits to donate to. They’re searching for the answers to their questions: What are early signs of alzheimer’s? How can I feed a family of five for under $10 without sacrificing nutrition? How can I get my child interested in reading? What can I do to avoid the flu in the workplace?

When your content is educational, you have a much greater chance of attracting potential donors to your organization’s website. Once they’re there, your existing cultivation/asking content can kick in and hopefully convert them into donors. Here’s a different way of looking at the donor funnel:

  1. prospecting (content marketing)
  2. cultivation/asking (existing promotional content)
  3. stewardship (donor communications)

By mapping content in this manner, you can see how someone who has never heard of your organization can organically convert into a supporter. While existing promotional and donor communications content can take a digital form, the bulk of your content marketing efforts should be focused on acquisition. Don’t flip your donor funnel! Create content that attracts, not pushes. Your current and prospective donors will thank you for it.

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sashattuck

Steven Shattuck

VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.

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Comments

Hi Steven. Educational content is an awesome way to attract new donors! Webinars espcially are a great way to teach people about an important cause, coupled with information about how to get involved in the organization. Graham Hill’s informative speech on TEDTalks was a great example that provided the audience with a call-to-acion in the last minute and ask them to consider their eating habits to improve the environment and their own health.

Hi Steven. Educational content is an awesome way to attract new donors! Webinars espcially are a great way to teach people about an important cause, coupled with information about how to get involved in the organization. Graham Hill’s informative speech on TEDTalks was a great example that provided the audience with a call-to-acion in the last minute and ask them to consider their eating habits to improve the environment and their own health.

I love webinars! Google+ Hangouts too!

This is a refreshing take from a non-profit's perspective. Although, many profit-based businesses are also guilty of merely translating their existing content into digital/social media format. They recognise that these online platforms are popular and trendy, but are probably unsure of the reasons. Online platforms can only be utilised effectively if they are viewed as unique compared to offline mediums, and by understanding how it works. But we are all learning as we go!

Thanks for the good read!

Absolutely! I just spoke on this topic at the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in New Jersey: http://www.slideshare.net/bloomerang/content-marketing-for-nonprofits