Developing compelling content marketing involves mentally stepping outside the organisation’s parameters and thinking as a community member who knows nothing about what your not-for-profit does.


One of the ongoing consequences of COVID has been the recognition of many not-for-profit organisations for the need to have an online presence.  Like anything worthwhile, it takes a willingness to commit time and energy to build the organisation’s online presence and keep it up to date, relevant, and engaging.

In the busyness of meeting client demands, many organization’s websites grow irrelevant, out of date and out of touch with clients, the community, and funders. Senior managers in not-for-profit's must remember that content marketing is essential in driving revenue, brand visibility and engagement with the broader community [1].  For example, it is increasingly common for organisations that provide funding to go to an organisation’s website as part of their decision-making process.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent information to attract, retain and ultimately drive customer or client action[2].  Many not-for-profit's ignore content marketing thinking it is only for-profit businesses or companies that sell a product.  Yet, most not-for-profits want to communicate the needs of the client group they are serving and drive action from the wider community.  Hence, it is in:

  1.   Communicating the need of the client group/s.
  2.   Encouraging donations; and
  3.   Driving action from the wider community.

Not-for-profit organizations need to understand and use content marketing [3].

How can the not-for-profit sector start to use content marketing effectively?  The advantage for many not-for-profit organisations is the power of the message they have to share. However, many not-for-profit's share the need they are dealing with rather than their service’s impact [1].

It isn't that the need is not necessary; the volume of demand can be overpowering. People want to feel they are making an impact or contributing to something that is making an impact.  This is where it is essential to understand the psychology of giving.  

When we work for a not-for-profit organisation, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone should contribute to our cause.  However, community members have multiple organisations with equally important missions seeking their donations as well.  We need to understand the psychology of giving and use it to ensure our content marketing increases donations and community support

This is where following the PSI method can be useful:

  •       The problem your organization exists to solve.
  •       The solution is what your organization is doing to solve the problem.
  •       The impact is the impact of your organization on the problem.  It can also be helpful to mention what happens if the problem is not solved.

Don't forget the importance of communicating options for how community members can be involved.  Again, this comes down in part to understanding the psychology of giving.  When people have options around their contributions, they give more than when asked for a fixed amount [4].  When we need donations for large projects that provide impact and benefit, it is better to be specific because we can draw on the project to discuss impact.

However, it is helpful to use content marketing to demonstrate the different options people have to contribute to the organisation.

Developing compelling content marketing involves mentally stepping outside the organisation’s parameters and thinking as a community member who knows nothing about what your not-for-profit does. This can be a challenge when we are caught in the demands of meeting client needs. 

Engaging external content marketers who are familiar with the not-for-profit sector can be helpful.  It is easier for organisations such as Tonic to understand stakeholders' primary drivers for why they would like to be involved with your organisation. Our team also has experience in knowing the communication channels that are most effective for reaching stakeholders and the messages and themes that will resonate with them.

Why spend time on developing an excellent content marketing strategy?  As we said at the beginning, it:

  1.       Communicates the need of the client group/s.
  2.       Encourages donations; and
  3.       Drives action from the wider community,

This takes the awareness of your organisation to a higher and measurable level so people can engage on a deeper level and take action to assist you in achieving your mission [5].

The time, energy and finances spent on content marketing is investing in the ongoing success of your not-for-profit organisation.