How to Use Content Marketing and Messaging to Highlight the Benefits of Corporate Giving
The recent global pandemic has upended the business world. Nonprofits have seen reduced budgets, canceled events, programming pivoting to virtual, furloughs and many other challenges during this past year. The good news is that many businesses and individuals don’t plan to reduce their contributions. A Fidelity Charitable survey found that 25% of donors plan to increase donations and 54% plan to maintain current giving levels.
But the fact remains, as a nonprofit professional, you still need to find ways to reach corporate donors in this new virtual landscape without the help of tried-and-true methods like in-person fundraising events. Content marketing can help fill that void and highlight the benefits of corporate giving to a targeted audience.
As a former nonprofit professional, I understand how you likely wear many hats and spread your budget very thin. In my current content marketing role, I also know the power of content and how, when done strategically, you can craft messages that stand out and drive results. The below strategies will help you get started on this journey.
Highlight User-Generated Content
To go after the low-hanging fruit, first tap into the gold mine that is user-generated content. This underutilized tactic is super simple and produces brilliant results. UGC encompasses any positive feedback, testimonials or mentions from your current audience (i.e., customers, clients, partners, donors, board members, vendors, etc.). In simpler terms, it’s not generated by you, the organization, but rather created by your supporters.
In the world of content marketing, UGC makes your messaging more authentic, builds trust and can ultimately drive prospects to a specific action, for instance, donating or participating in your latest campaign. A recent report from Bazaarvoice confirms this, finding 92% of shoppers trust UGC, such as peer recommendations. Another report from Tint found that 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by people more than content created by brands.
The beauty of UGC is that you likely already have it in your arsenal, which means you don’t have to spend precious time and resources creating content. Instead, look for testimonials or feedback from your current donor list that highlights the importance of your mission. If you can’t easily locate anything, send out an email and ask for it! Then translate these quotes into social media posts that promote your wonderful cause.
For example, Scott J. Corwin, attorney and president of Scott J. Corwin law firm, recently explained why he still prioritizes philanthropic giving in his native Los Angeles, even amidst the pandemic:
“The more you show up for your community, the more they’ll show up for you in terms of positive word of mouth, opportunities in local media and reinforcing a sterling reputation. Organizations like LATLC do such great work for the citizens of Los Angeles and deserve our time and resources to keep them running well. A rising tide lifts all boats. The more vibrant and healthy our charities and communities are, the more demand for business services there will be.”
When you utilize UGC, make sure to ask the source for permission to post. Then you can use easy tools like Canva to create a graphic with quotes or simply post them in a caption with a relevant image from your organization. Tag the business or source for further cross-promotion.
Leverage Storytelling in Blog Posts
More and more, content marketers focus less on hard selling and more on narrative-driven strategies. Why? Because there are ads everywhere, and current audiences are savvy digital natives. Users install ad blockers, immediately navigate away from pop-ups and learn to ignore blatant sales messaging. Instead of pouring money into expensive advertising or complicated search engine optimization strategies, smart businesses focus on crafting stories that highlight their product and service.
Melanie Dezial, content expert, sums it up perfectly: “It’s not our job to tell the audience what to think or how to feel or what to do, but to paint a picture. Give them enough information so they can make those choices on their own.”
So while you may be spinning your wheels on how to use blog content on your site to reach your target demographic or the latest SEO tricks to increase web presence, focus on content quality instead.
How can you tell engaging and interesting stories about your organization, the people you serve, your mission and values, or community impact? The wonderful thing about SEO and Google ranking factors (i.e., what makes you show up on Google) is that each year they put more emphasis on real, engaging content that’s written for humans. Even as a trained SEO professional, my main goal is always to help clients craft an intriguing story that appeals to their audience and explains their overall goals.
Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose!
A little-known secret of content marketing is repurposing. Especially for nonprofits with limited budgets and a staff of jacks-(or jills)-of-all-trade, you need to work smarter, not harder.
Most content you create can be reused on another platform or transformed into a new piece of content. So don’t just create a blog post or a graphic for a fundraiser, post it on social media, and call it a day. Instead, try these repurposing tactics:
- Get more mileage out of blogs. When you create a blog post, don’t post the link once then forget about it. Use each section and create a series of posts. Take the text and edit it down a bit for your caption, and choose a complementary visual. As long as you make sure to space it out on your calendar, you can post multiple times about a similar topic.
- Create branded graphics. Use your brand colors to share meaningful text-based messages, relevant quotes, or even data from recent successes. Note how Burlington City Arts highlighted a scholarship winner in an Instagram post below. Scour your existing databases, annual reports, blogs — anything — and pull out powerful snippets to repurpose into social media content. Even work with other departments to find great bits of information to share with your audience.
- Repost relevant industry content. If you’re at a loss, you can always incorporate third-party content into your calendar; you just need to make sure you credit it correctly. For example, if your organization focuses on seniors with Alzheimer’s, you can repost recent AARP reports or Alzheimer Association articles. You’ll need to tag or credit the source, but it will still land with your audience and be an easy way to fill in gaps in your calendar. You can even write blog posts that offer commentary on new industry updates, reports, surveys, etc.
Remember, the key is to find and creatively reuse content that encourages action. If you want to level up corporate giving and partnerships, repurpose messaging that aligns with those goals.
Forget About Perfection
Last but certainly not least, don’t get hung up on sharing perfect content. Many nonprofit professionals might be apprehensive about jumping into content marketing because of a lack of experience. But just remember, any content is better than no content.
Here are a few easy ways you can stop worrying about execution and create more authentic content:
- Get your team in front of a camera and post pictures of smiling faces. If you’re working remotely, even selfies will do. Studies show that images with faces perform better on social media.
- Take out your phone to capture video footage of programs or events to give viewers a taste of your community initiatives. Video doesn’t have to be professionally shot or edited to be impactful.
- Ask other members of your team (HR, education, even finance) to write a short description about why they like working for your organization and craft that into a blog post. Again, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Run it through a free editor like Grammarly for tips on clarity and structure.
Your audience wants more real and authentic content rather than overly curated images or sales-forward messaging. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re passionate about what you do, that will shine through!
Tracy Ring is freelance writer, content marketer, and former non-profit worker. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Art History. Currently, Tracy works with organizations to curate engaging content and grow their brand presence via targeted digital marketing strategies. She brings a real-life perspective to her writing from 9+ years of diverse experience. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.