Messaging is a challenging topic for most non-profits. What can be even more challenging is how to distribute your message in a way that helps you find the right constituents and encourage new donors.
Lack of organization and a clear view of your messaging is the primary reason why so many non-profits struggle to properly engage with their constituents. That’s why I’m going to provide you with a few key points about how to build a content calendar for your non-profit, and also provide you with a free template to help you get started.
Before we get to that though, let’s take a look at a few questions that you should ask yourself before creating a content calendar:
What channels do I currently have to distribute my message?
Your non-profit may only have so many digital channels, or outlets to communicate on, that they can leverage to position their messaging. Samples of channels would be your website, social media accounts, email list, paid advertising, public relations, print materials, or even television and radio commercials.
To start, I would suggest picking the top three channels that you’ve found the most engagement generated from. If you’re just starting out, I always advise to focus on building your website, social media channels and creating a single, local or national press campaign to begin to build awareness about what you do.
How big is my audience in each channel that I currently have?
Each channel that you have will vary in the size of your audience. What I always advise if you’re already in the thick of promoting your messaging is to focus on the channels that have the most engagement first. Do you have a large email list (i.e. 10k+ contacts that are not rented lists - can't stress this enough - but your own aggregated emails)? Do you have a decent social following (1k+ followers)? How many unique website visitors do you receive in a month?
Just because your channel is large doesn’t mean that it’s engaged. Focus your attention first on where your audience mostly spends their time and begin there. If you’re just starting out, identify where your ideal constituents spend their time and begin promoting your content there.
How often do I want to communicate with them versus the bandwidth I have to communicate?
This is a big one. We often want to tell everyone, everywhere and all the time what we do. But I would encourage you to evaluate how often you actually can talk with people or promote a quality, consistent, and clear message.
Don’t extend yourself to the point where your message begins to break down or lose its intention because you’re trying to tackle too much at once. Start by evaluating your bandwidth and set aside 20% of each person’s time every day to content development and messaging.
How can I keep my messaging clean, simple and to the point?
Keep it simple, clear and to the point. Your message shouldn’t be filled with fluff words or -isms that overwhelm people with what you’re trying to accomplish. Keep your message simple. In fact, take five minutes right now and write out what your company does in less than 25 words. Yep, only 25 words. If you can’t relay what you do in that amount of brevity, then you should rethink your approach.
As an example, if I was a Veteran-owned business that worked with therapy animals and someone asked me what my organization did, I would say, “We’re a veteran-owned business that helps breed, train and find homes for therapy animals.” 14 words - keeping it simple and straight forward.
Download Your Free Non-Profit Content Planner Template
Once you’ve answered the above questions about how to approach your content, you’re ready to begin working with your content calendar or planner template.
The value of using a content calendar or planner for non-profits is that you’re able to not only strategize and plan for your fundraising and awareness campaigns, but you’re also able to look back and repurpose your content by using this template also as a repository.
Quick Tip: Always put the hyperlinks to each piece into a corresponding cell within your planner. That way, what starts as a planner or calendar, then turns into a repository of existing content for you to continuously use and update as needed - keeping things nice, neat and organized!
If you have any questions, post them in the comments below. We’ll reach out with our best advice.