Marketing May 18, 2016 Last updated September 22nd, 2018 2,851 Reads share

Content Marketing for Nonprofit: Trends, Case Studies and Strategies

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By marketing, we understand marketing for profit. However, marketing is not necessarily restricted to profit; there a parallel and that’s marketing for nonprofit.

Like their profit-making twins, nonprofit marketers have been exploring several avenues, both digital and nondigital, for a while now. They have recently fixated on content marketing after realizing its immense benefits.

How is it working out for them? What strategies should they be following? We’ll find out everything here in this article.

Trends and challenges

Data indicates more than 90% of nonprofit organizations use content marketing with a professional tinge. In 2014, 35% nonprofit marketers reported an effective use of content marketing, which was up 26% from the previous year. 23% of them have done something that’s really commendable; they have documented the content strategy, which helped them in the following ways:

  • Recognize patterns and making quality content creation formulaic.
  • Allocate a sizable percentage (33%) of their marketing budget to content creation following the documented strategies. As the strategies are documented, they can have an ROI system at work.

The lack of budget is a serious challenge that nonprofit content marketers have been facing for a while. The good news is they are exploring several techniques to ration out high-quality content creation and pathways that could take them to newer funding options. The percentage of nonprofits who have eased the difficulties have been going up steadily over the years.

Success stories

A nonprofit organization called Charity:Water did something innovative on their five year anniversary. Their donation spree was a huge success fetching a staggering $42 million.

To thank all those who support their cause and made financial contributions, Charity:Water released a video, which was also a part of their new drive for arranging money so they could buy drilling rigs in Ethiopia and provide clean water to more than 50,000 people.


The campaign (now closed) was a success, garnering $1.8 million, and demonstrated how content marketing in the digital podium can be instrumental to solve funding problems for nonprofits.

Another nonprofit organization called Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) did something that was equally fascinating; they relied on user-generated content (UGC) to find shelter for stray dogs. They launched a mobile app called My Dog ID for iPhone and Android users. Users needed to take their pictures so that dogs matching their facial traits could be found.

On social media, BFAS had a Dog Wall, the content of which was generated by users. They encouraged the participants to share their matches on the wall to increase the spread of the campaign and make it viral. Harnessing user-generated content and mobile apps for marketing are radical ideas, BFAS implemented those ideas for a purpose that’s not driven by profit. Kudos to them for this.

Content marketing tips

The discussion above implicates that content marketing translates to opportunities for nonprofits. Below are some tips that can make content marketing even more effective for them:

#1. Mission statement

A nonprofit organization should have a clear and concise mission statement. It’s not just a formality as it narrates the reasons behind taking social responsibility so seriously. The mission statement reflects the vision of an organization.

If the statement is ambiguous or unclear, people will not comprehend the vision and hesitate to become a part of it. Content marketing can elucidate the vision, present a unique value proposition for the brand, justify it and encourage people to share it.

See the image below:

Percentage of Nonprofit Marketers


The infographic above shows 70% nonprofit marketers either don’t have a mission statement or have it but not in a documented form. They need a well-documented editorial mission statement, created using high-quality content.

A teensy bit of personalization can add taste to the otherwise unpalatable recipe called the mission statement. Don’t turn it into a white paper with an authoritative tone or an assemblage of information, collected from various sources and then pieced together.

Write personalized content. Use personal pronouns like “you”, “yours” throughout the content, so audiences find it easy to relate to it. Make personalized references and focus on interacting with the audiences. Make sure they share the vision that the mission statement promotes.

#2. Information delivery

The more information a nonprofit organization delivers about itself and how it operates, the higher are its odds of having people working under its banner and receiving donations from numerous sources.

You should know which information to deliver because not all information is deliverable from the marketing point of view. The rule of thumb is telling people about your achievements and future plans so that asking for donation rings true.

A nonprofit survives on donations. The donors can be ordinary people as well as large corporate entities. If they don’t receive enough information about the organization, then they wouldn’t bother donating or sharing its vision. Again, not only the volume of information, the quality of information is important too.

Delivering information is not easy. Content marketing can it make easy. Content marketers can create multiple sets of content, for multiple types of users, thereby customizing the information delivery process, depending on the taste and preference of the audiences.

#3. Harnessing social media

Social media is essential for all types of marketing, be it profit-centric or nonprofit. If social media campaigns are a recipe, content marketing would be the key ingredient in them. Without it, harnessing social media is a distant dream for profits and nonprofits alike.

Social networks give access to audiences, social analytics tools narrow down the audience pool, but content marketing does the most important job; it helps to reach the targeted audiences with a message which is at the core of the campaign.

Social media can be a more effective platform for nonprofits than for-profits, and that’s because there’s no CTR, lead capturing and sales conversion. The objective is to send the message across. Content marketing spices up the message so that people respond to it.

Social media is also a platform where people are frank to each other and share emotions. Nonprofits have a lot to gain from this. They stand up for a cause, which is a lofty proposition in itself. On social media, they just have to warm the cockles of their fan’s hearts. If they succeed in doing that, the campaign can go viral and see more and more people participating in it.

#4. Visual branding

Nonprofit organizations can solidify their branding with the help of visual content. Better branding is conditional and it largely depends on the correct use of infographics. Apart from infographics, there are plenty other visual content types such as videos, slide presentations, 2D and 3D animation, cinemagraph, etc.

People love visual content. Treat them with a stunning photograph or an entertaining video containing a serious message, and they’d better comprehend the message. Nonprofits especially have a lot to achieve using visual content. They can present their vision and achievements in visual formats.

Infographics and vlogs can make their journey across the digital landscape smooth. What’s interesting to note here is such innovative content formats contain as much useful details as stodgy informational documents, only they make audiences more receptive to communicate and a be a part of a cause. By keeping visual and non-visual content ratio equal, nonprofits can make their content marketing stratagem more colorful.

To a marketer’s delight, there’s no dearth of tools to create visual content. Tools like GoAnimate, Memoov, Fuzzwich, Blender are extremely useful. Blender might be for skilled 3D developers, but Fuzzwich promotes itself with the caption – Animation for Everyone. An overview of GoAnimate reveals it makes video creation fast and offers a simplistic, drag-and-drop interface with a range of customizable templates.

#5. Documenting ideas and workflow

Nonprofit organizations have a tiered management structure with different people having different areas of expertise. They arrange meetings and discuss the future of the organization along with growth strategies.

Such meetings resemble brainstorming sessions held around conference tables in corporate environments. Problems are discussed, solutions are examined, alternatives are weighed – in short, different ideas and their implementation techniques are proposed.

If not accurately documented, the ideas can be lost. The documentation work is not something that anybody can handle. An experienced content marketer is needed for this job.

On the surface, it’s nothing but mere documentation, which is why most people don’t bother. Only those, who scratch below the surface realize why content marketing is essential for it. A proper documentation strategy does the following:

  • Enables the resources to trigger heuristic understanding for anyone, who reviews them in the future.
  • Link the ideas to the mission statement, so that audiences get to know the organization’s ideology.
  • Make the draft attractive and personalized, the importance of which has already been discussed.

When content marketing techniques are applied to document ideas originating from brainstorming sessions, the need to chalk a separate workflow plan later is eliminated. A content marketer only needs a little guidance, that’s all. He can then set down all the ideas and corresponding opinions in writing, and the organization that employs him can use the draft as a blueprint of its workflow.

There’s hope

Nonprofit marketing is slowly getting up to the speed. Marketers are now exploring new social media channels and creating a higher volume of content. The five content marketing strategies shared in this article can help them carry on.

Images: ”non profit a cloud massage in the sky/


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William Johnson

William Johnson

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