3 ways to keep your donors engaged with high quality content

By Ryan Galloway
The Brief
Quality content can increase both awareness and donations for nonprofits that execute it well. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you embark on any editorial strategy for your nonprofit marketing.
Nonprofit Marketing


Not long ago, marketing guru Seth Godin said, “Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left.” Marketers are leaving traditional advertising behind, moving instead toward content that drives engagement by providing value, insight and education.

Nonprofits are increasingly doing the same. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61 percent of nonprofits are already using content marketing. When done right, smart content marketing can help nonprofits of any size reach new donors and increase engagement among existing donors. But creating great content isn’t easy.

As head of editorial services at Contently, I help brands leverage content to drive engagement every day. Making sure your content resonates with your audience takes patience, strategy and no small amount of courage. Here’s what you need to know.

1.    Tell Great Stories

When it comes to content, there’s no substitute for exceptional storytelling. Traditional marketers often struggle to find an angle that gets audiences engaged. Fortunately, nonprofits already have one. Human angles and emotional resonance are inherent to their missions. But what’s the right way to incorporate emotion?

Many organizations—both for-profit brands and nonprofits alike—make the mistake of telling stories about themselves. Worse still, many still insist on pushing products or requesting donations within the content itself. Even a single product pitch in an otherwise objective article will lower your content’s authenticity by nearly 30 percent, and I’d wager the same goes for soliciting donations.

Instead, focus on the people your organization serves. Tell their stories. Humanize your cause. If your organization fights pollution along a local river, create content that addresses the impact of that pollution on local families and communities. Do this right, and your audience engagement will increase—and donations are likely to follow. 

2.    Make Your Content Shareable 

Social should be a priority when planning any content campaign. If your content is successfully humanizing your cause and creating emotional connections with your audience, then you’ve taken the first step to developing shareable content. The next step is knowing what to share and where. 

Pinterest is obviously image-driven, so consider investing in custom photography that illustrates why your organization’s cause is important one. Facebook gives you more options; long-form content can play well there, as can infographics and videos. Speaking of infographics, consider developing micrographics—like an infographic, but smaller and more focused on a single set of numbers—to maximize shareability on Twitter. Micrographics are also ideal for mobile campaigns, since they display well on a smaller screen.

3.    Measure and Manage

Creating great content shouldn’t be the goal of your content marketing efforts—in fact, it’s just the beginning. Once you’re publishing, it’s time to start measuring your content’s performance. Comments and social actions are obvious metrics to watch, but you should also keep an eye on metrics like attention time and how many readers actually scroll to the bottom of your stories (at Contently, we call this “average finish”). Fluffy metrics like page views may look nice, but they don’t tell you anything about how engaged your audience is.

Every three to six months, compile your key performance indicators and adjust your content mix accordingly. Do more of what your audience engages with and less of what they skip. 

The Takeaway

Great content can increase donor engagement and raise your organization’s brand awareness. Make it a core part of your communications strategy and be smart about how you gauge its performance. Your fundraising team will thank you for it.
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Ryan Galloway is Senior Managing Editor at Contently and a frequent contributor to this blog.

RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

Do more with your nonprofit marketing with our new white paper, “How to use multi-channel campaigns to convert first-time donors”

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