How to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit’s Content Strategy

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You’ve built your brand, seen success in your agency and now you’re wondering how to use your talents to give back to your community. Pro bono work is a professional form of volunteerism that uses specific skills to provide free services to organizations that couldn’t otherwise afford them.

So, why pro bono?

  • Build your agency’s repertoire
  • Enhance your own portfolio
  • Boost CSR and team morale
  • Create a better relationship with your community

So, if there are so many benefits to doing pro bono work, why aren’t more agencies doing it?

Working with a nonprofit can be difficult. Tight budget restrictions. A need to create brand appeal. Standing out amongst a sea of competition. You name it. Solving these challenges requires creativity, the right mindset and determination.

In 2016, our agency had the chance to work for a client pro bono. Here’s how we surpassed those challenges to create a cost-effective and creative campaign that benefited our client.


Find Your Medium.

With any type of content or advertisement, one of the first steps is figuring out which medium is going to be the most effective and appropriate option to use.

While traditional media like TV and radio have larger target audiences, that doesn’t mean that they’re the most economical or effective mediums out there.

  • Buying a TV spot in Buffalo can cost up to several hundred thousand dollars.
  • One 30-second radio spot costs $71 in Buffalo, N.Y.
  • It’s difficult to target specific demographics with TV and radio.

That’s where the beauty of digital comes in. By focusing on social media platforms and digital content tactics, you’re able to target a niche group located in a specific area code, all while saving your client money.

The Situation: Kenmore-Tonawanda Meals on Wheels (KTMOW), a local nonprofit that serves meals to elderly and disabled persons, needed to differentiate themselves from their well-established competition — but didn’t have the budget to run a giant ad campaign. Our content team set out to create cost-effective content that would entertain and inform our audience, differentiate KTMOW from the competition, and ultimately drive donations and volunteers.

Create a Plan for Content that Connects.

Americans are exposed to 5,000 ads a day. People are quickly turning on their ad blockers and scrolling past spam-like content without giving a second glance. As content marketers and storytellers, we need to do more than just create content that sells a brand: we need to create content that promotes a lifestyle.

The Quinlan team focused on creating blog posts that emphasized healthy living habits and offered advice that was relevant to both our targeted audience and our clientele.

By creating content that connects and influences, rather than promotes and sells, you can humanize your brand and begin building a valuable relationship with your consumers.

Evoke Emotion.

Think about the last time that you saw an advertisement about a charitable organization: how did it make you feel? (Chances are, not good). Between sob-inducing SPCA commercials and heart-wrenching ads depicting starving children, the guilt is inevitable.

It is beneficial to create this kind of emotion-eliciting content — which is why every agency tries to pull on your heart-strings. However, there’s so much more to emotionally driven advertising than just guilt and empathy.  After all, you’re trying to get your audience to reach for their wallet, not their tissue box.

Instead of guilt, we went with an emotion we’re much more familiar with: humor. After analyzing our demographic, we decided that the best route to take would be to craft a video marketing campaign that reminisced a late night talk show. Entertaining and lighthearted, the video used humor to emphasize key information and help KTMOW stand out from the competition.

Make the Most Of Promotion.

Maximizing engagement and brand awareness on a tight (or nonexistent) budget is difficult. Posting organic content online and on social media might be free, but it’s often unsuccessful without the assistance of paid promotion. Here are some tips on how to successfully promote your content without breaking the bank:

    • Attract the right type of people. Don’t waste money trying to reach every person age 18-65 in your area. Pick a specific demographic and stick to it. We chose to target people who lived in Kenton, had an affinity to similar charities and nonprofits and had a general interest in eldercare.
    • Create a call-to-action. Since you can’t donate money directly on a Facebook ad, make sure you provide your audience with a link to direct them to your website.
    • Prioritize your content. Be honest with yourself about your content. Not every blog post or digital ad has the potential to go viral. Prioritize the most engaging content and then focus your budgeting efforts towards that.

By following these promotion rules, we were able to reach over 41,000 people within our target area, within a budget that would have cost us at least 10 times the media spend. So yes — nonprofit content strategy can be just as effective as it is cost-effective.

How have you increased brand awareness for a nonprofit? We’d love to chat. Tweet us @QuinlanCompany.

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