Illustration of a cell phone and a coffee mug

DIY Content Marketing for Nonprofits

Mar 22nd, 2023 by Ross Hansen

Every organization wants to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to their content marketing efforts. For nonprofits working with tight budgets, it's particularly important to keep marketing costs low. Do-it-yourself (DIY) content marketing is the process of controlling and managing marketing in-house rather than using an agency. It's a great way to save money, and it gives you greater control over the type of content you produce to ensure it fits your organization's unique niche and resonates with your audience. Let's take a look at some key DIY content marketing tips that can help nonprofits expand their reach and raise awareness for their cause.

1. Establish a powerful brand

Brand recognition is vital for any organization to succeed, no matter if it’s a for-profit business or nonprofit organization. Branding includes visual aspects, such as your logo, color scheme, and graphics, as well as non-visual aspects such as your tone of voice and company values. Consistency is vital for building brand recognition, too, because it takes between 5 and 7 interactions with a brand for people to remember it. This means all your content, including your website, social media profiles, email sign-offs, physical flyers, and head office premises must be aligned in its branding.

It's wise to establish your brand identity and visual appearance before building your content marketing strategy. Begin by considering your target audience. What are their demographics, and what type of aesthetic and message aligns with them? How does your cause appeal to their values? Who are your competitors and how can you match their appeal while standing out? In answering these questions, you can also develop ideas as to what type of content marketing to focus on and which digital platforms to utilize to engage most effectively with your target audience.

2. Define your objectives and goals

A good marketing strategy has clear and attainable objectives and goals. This is to ensure that you're investing time and money on efforts that will be of true benefit to the organization. Examples of measurable objectives include:

  • Increase donations

  • Increase repeat donors

  • Improve social media engagement

  • Grow email subscriber list

  • Increase website visits

Keep in mind the overall goals of the organization. For a new nonprofit that has recently started up, objectives are likely to focus on audience growth. For well-established nonprofits, objectives tend to be on donor retention and increased donations. If an organization is set to rebrand or kick off a new project, however, their objectives will likely center around brand recognition or engagement.

Each objective ought to have a goal to aim towards that is within reach and can be measured. The way you measure success depends on the nature of the goal. Some goals may have multiple measurements. For example, increased website visits can easily be measured by monitoring hits via your site's analytics. Growing social media engagement can be measured by monitoring likes, comments, and shares. Decide which KPIs you'll focus on to determine success when you set goals.

3. Showcase your expertise and impact

It's important for nonprofits to demonstrate that donations made to them are worthwhile and have been put to good use in order to build trust with supporters and encourage repeat contributions. They can do this by creating content that showcases their impact. Tell the stories of your organization's work, preferably by highlighting an individual who has benefited from the cause. People are more likely to make a donation to a nonprofit when the plight of an individual person is highlighted because it evokes a stronger emotional response than the plight of a group. 

Video content is a particularly effective way of telling these stories. It's significantly more engaging than text or static images, which means it can elicit an emotional response from people more easily. More than 75% of donors find videos useful in helping them decide whether to donate, and 57% go on to make a donation after watching a video.

When combined, impactful content with embedded videos are a sure way to raise awareness and attract new donors. Reach more people across channels by showcasing your work with an eye-catching stream of well-coordinated nonprofit marketing materials, like digital flipbooks, social posts, mobile-friendly articles, GIFs, and more – all of which can be derived from a single piece of content.

When you draw attention to the positive outcomes of donations, you also demonstrate that your organization has the expertise necessary to make real change. This helps to build trust with donors, who want to feel confident that their donation will be spent wisely. Providing additional information and resources about topics relevant to your cause can help to reinforce your organization's authority. Fill your website with advice, factsheets, statistics, digital flipbooks, and other relevant resources, and optimize these for search engines to increase your brand's online visibility. You could also consider creating branded infographics for social media as these tend to be highly shareable.

4. Engage people with requests for a donation of their time

Studies have found that when asked to give a donation of their time rather than money, people are more likely to give larger monetary donations overall. This is known as the time-ask effect. 

Requests for money tend to elicit analytical responses as people assess the state of their resources and how worthy they deem the cause. Requests for time are met with a more emotional response as people consider the positive emotions the experience might give them. This emotional response subsequently leaves them willing to donate money at a later point because they feel a personal connection to the cause.

With this in mind, consider how you could use donations of time to implement your content marketing strategy. Perhaps you could invite people to share their knowledge or expertise by creating informational content for you. Even something as simple as asking people to share your content with their friends on social media can make the most of the time-ask effect. It only takes a few moments of their time to share, but in doing so they can help you to boost engagement with your content while experiencing the positive emotions of helping your cause, which might increase the chances of them making a monetary donation in the future.

Nonprofits can expand their reach with a strong content marketing plan

The key to successful DIY content marketing is a strong plan, clear goals, a recognizable brand, and a digital publishing platform that elevates your content. With these elements in place, you can focus on telling compelling stories that inspire donors to support your cause for years to come.

Ross Hansen is a content marketer with a passion for creating compelling narratives to help nonprofits achieve their mission.