Content Marketing for Nonprofits
Recently, I had the honor of previewing Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book, “Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money.”
In it, the well-known and highly regarded fundraising consultant explores the world of content marketing for nonprofits in a way that is true to form for this inexhaustible font of fundraising and marketing knowledge.
As I note for the book’s back cover, content marketing is a brand-new world for the nonprofit sector, which historically has relied on traditional marketing for communicating with its donors and other supporters and potential supporters. Brand-new worlds can often be scary, especially if you try to go it alone.
In authoring this book, Leroux Miller offers herself up as your intrepid guide. Whether your organization is young and wiry or steadfastly entrenched in the “but we’ve always done it this way” sand trap, she talks — and walks — you through this new and vital approach to nonprofit communications. Her clean writing and authoritative-but-accessible style pull it all together in a way that feels like sipping tea and talking shop with a savvy friend and colleague.
That’s my take on the book, and lots of others in the fundraising world seem to agree.
Here, I talk with Leroux Miller about the book and the concept of content marketing.
FundRaising Success: What exactly is content marketing?
Kivi Leroux Miller: Traditional marketing is often about pushing your communications in front of people and saying, “Hey, you, please look here!” It interrupts people. With content marketing, you produce communications that people want to read and that attract them — and new people — to your organization. But to produce those kinds of communications usually requires a significant shift in mind-set within a nonprofit, and that’s what the book is about.
FS: Why is this something that fundraising marketers need to know about now?
KLM: Donor retention is a huge problem because nonprofits are failing to keep the love alive. Donors give once and don’t give again. This isn’t an “awareness” problem. It’s a failure to keep donors engaged. Content marketing is an approach that is very focused on donors and other readers of your communications.
By talking about your work in ways that are highly relevant to your readers, you keep them more connected to your cause, and therefore more likely to give again and to give more generously.
FS: How are marketing and communications changing for fundraising marketers?
KLM: We all know that there are major media shifts taking place because of social media and mobile technology. When you combine those with the major demographic shifts taking place at the same time, it’s a massive upheaval in how people get information and decide what’s relevant to them. We used to all watch the same TV stations and read the same newspapers, and that’s not true anymore. That means nonprofits have to be much more sophisticated and see themselves as publishers and broadcasters.
FS: What is it that keeps fundraisers from doing truly effective marketing?
KLM: I think the biggest problem is fear. Fear of trying something new. Fear of failure. Fear of offending someone. But to stand out and to really grab donors’ hearts and minds and keep them engaged, you have to put yourself and your organization out there and experiment. If you aren’t trying new things and learning, your organization is in trouble.
FS: What are the top takeaways for fundraisers from your book?
KLM: Donor retention is largely about good donor communications, and good donor communications is largely about content marketing. Figure out what excites and energizes your donors, what’s really relevant in their own lives, and deliver that to them in your communications. That’s just as important to fundraising long term as a well-crafted ask.
FS: What do you hope readers of this book will feel/think/do after finishing it?
KLM: I hope they will be inspired not only with great ideas, but with the know-how to put them into action for their organizations. We featured examples from more than 100 nonprofits in the book, so you have plenty of peers to learn from!