How to use content marketing to bring in volunteers

Content marketing is a fun tool nonprofits can use to engage new donors and volunteers.
Date Published
01/13/2016

It’s no secret that volunteer work is good for the heart and mind. In a poll from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America in 2015, volunteer work was found to have many benefits including increased social circles, enhanced relationships and higher physical activity rates.

Unfortunately, many nonprofits see a drop in volunteer numbers during the winter months due to cold weather and longer commutes. During this time, an organization may ramp up its efforts for online donations and campaigning to bring back donors and volunteers. While traditional campaigning such as radio broadcasting, print and direct mail works for many nonprofits, there is a more effective way of bringing in volunteers throughout the year regardless of the weather: It’s called content marketing.

What is content marketing?
As defined by the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience.” In simpler terms, it means communicating with your target audience without trying to convince them to buy or donate right away. The end goal of content marketing is to deliver information about the brand and what it believes in without directly trying to coerce the audience into a deal or sale. This kind of campaigning can prove cost-effective for organizations with age demographics that respond well to online campaigns, as most content marketing campaigns are digitally based. Forbes said content marketing is meant to be valuable and attract viewers to your organization with something they will treasure.

Content marketing can come in a wide variety of forms, according to Quick Sprout. These unique marketing mediums include social media posts, blogs, infographics, images, Web pages, podcasts, articles, editorials, videos, music, animations and more. Content marketing pieces are meant to be viewed repeatedly on a consumer’s own time, unlike TV or radio commercials. Creative expressions not only entice the viewer to explore the medium, but to engage with the brand. It’s interactive marketing at its finest.

Content marketing in action
What are some examples of content marketing in action? Many exist in the world today and brands both private and nonprofit utilize the tactic. Take for example clothing and lifestyle brand Anthropologie. In its blog for the summer of 2014, the company released a series of delicious seasonal cocktail recipes for viewers to try. While it did not explicitly ask consumers to directly buy from the brand, it did make a statement about how it would like its customers to treat themselves once in a while. 

Content marketing isn’t just for large corporate entities: many nonprofits benefit from content marketing as well. The Make-A-Wish Foundation participated in content marketing by giving children the opportunity to see Michael Jordan and posting the pictures online to a blog. The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America foundation created an online public service announcement with actor Jamie Foxx to encourage donors to further research the organization. These tactics bring about brand awareness and attract volunteers to the organizations.

How it ties into your nonprofit
Ready to dive into content marketing for your organization? While this form of campaigning can come in many forms, it is ultimately up to the nonprofit to pick the best platform for its donors. For younger audiences, videos, social media posts, images, animations and text-light blogs will prove useful in attracting contributors. For older patrons, consider using Facebook videos, infographics, podcasts and editorials. Different age groups respond to various mediums and it is at the discretion of an organization to pick the best options. With content marketing, your organization will see new donors and reach new audiences throughout the year.

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