You believe in the organization you work for. You’re probably pretty passionate about the impact your organization makes, and it’s frustrating when other people don’t see the value in it.
Budgets are tight, and it can feel like a fight to keep your numbers up.
We get you, and that’s why we want to help you spark that same passion in others. Through understanding content marketing for nonprofits, you can take the edge off the marketing fight so you can put that fight where it really matters: your organization’s mission.
Getting the right content to the right people at the right times and in the right places—that’s marketing in a nutshell, and the funnel is what makes all the pieces fit effectively. In your case, we’re talking about the donor funnel.
If any of those parts of the pie are missing, it forms a disconnect that causes your prospective donors to not notice you, not relate to you, or—if done really poorly—even dislike you.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Content Marketing for Nonprofits
Getting to know your audience is the most important ingredient in this marketing pie. The entire donor funnel hinges on how well you know your donors. Depending on what your nonprofit does, there are different aspects you’ll want to understand:
- What are they struggling with? What do they care most about?
- Where do they go to find solutions to those struggles? What do they do to make a difference?
- What is their process for making purchase/donation decisions?
You might obtain this information through market research, a simple survey, or even quick little Facebook polls. Once you’ve gained those insights, planning out your content for your donor funnel is much easier and more effective.
Content Marketing for Nonprofits: The Donor Funnel
Now, let’s look at content marketing for nonprofits through the eyes of ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu (and no, we’re not talking about stuff you find in the health food aisle).
What Is ToFu?
ToFu stands for “top of funnel.” It is often referred to as the Awareness stage. This is where your organization needs to capture interest and collect the contact information of non-donors who don’t know your organization.
These people are not generally looking for new nonprofits to donate to. They are performing searches on Google that have to do with their own issues. They are looking for solutions, information, resources, and hope, and you can give it to them with educational content that answers their questions.
For example, they might search for “What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?” or “Why isn’t my child talking yet?” or “Christian churches that support spirituality near me.”
You can answer their questions and still convert them to donors organically by speaking first to their needs and questions. The content attracts them in a way that is not salesy or pushy.
Content marketing for nonprofits at the ToFu stage might include any of the following:
The best use of content at the ToFu stage is emotional storytelling. Whatever medium you use, speak to emotions so that people take an interest in the work you are doing. Include calls to action that lead them to opt in for something for free—anything of value that will make them want to give you their contact info—so that you can continue to move them through the funnel.
The goal here is education. You’re providing information on a specific topic or an answer to a specific question. If they find your information useful and valuable in this stage, they are likely to move onto the MoFu stage.
What Is MoFu?
After a prospective donor has opted in at the ToFu stage, they are then moved along to the MoFu stage, which means “middle of funnel.” Often referred to as the Evaluation stage, here you are nurturing people along so that they can learn more about your organization and the issue(s) you support.
These people are generally non-donors who know your organization. They are here because they showed an interest in what you are doing by opting in to your offer at the ToFu stage. Now, you are connecting them to your mission and giving them reasons to want to know more.
This is where you build trust and strive to make a lasting impression on the people who are most likely to support your organization. It’s also where you screen out leads not likely to support your organization. It’s okay that not everyone from the ToFu stage will move through to the MoFu stage, as this is where you are qualifying your leads.
Here, we continue to provide content that educates, but we also work to start presenting the solution (your organization) to their needs and issues or the way for them to make a difference. It’s where you demonstrate your expertise and show them the impact you’re making (and the impact that they can make).
You want to offer content here that has more personal engagement than blogs. It needs to be able to qualify leads, help you nurture them along, and build credibility.
Content marketing for nonprofits at this stage includes things such as the following:
- Case Studies
- Human Interest Stories
- Email Campaigns
Probably the best way to use content at this stage is with email because it allows you to segment people according to their interest. After they have shown interest, follow up right away with an email that provides steps they can take. Then continue to nurture them with autoresponder emails.
A recent study in Science Daily indicated that percentage-based evidence and human interest evidence drives engagement, not talking about the overall magnitude of the issue. So, promote specific human-interest stories in your emails and through social media, and you’ll get more shares and organic engagement.
Plus, when you make that strong emotional impact, they’ll be motivated to move into the BoFu stage.
What Is BoFu?
Those who make it through the MoFu stage will be moved to the BoFu stage, which stands for “bottom of funnel.” This is where you give them an opportunity to support you and to convert into donors or supporters (those who don’t donate but will still support your organization through volunteer work or by sharing your organization with others).
At this stage, they already know you, understand what you stand for, and feel comfortable engaging with you, so this is where you give them that final nudge with the right call to action.
Content marketing for nonprofits at this stage can include things such as the following:
- Donation Pages
- Free Membership Trials
- Live Demos
- Case Studies
The absolute best type of content at this stage is a solid donation page. If your donation page is done right, it will turn your MoFus into supporters. To make an outstanding donation page, make sure yours includes the following:
- A short and specific story that makes an impact
- A powerful image (visual storytelling)
- Emphasis on how their donation would impact your organization (make them the hero)
- A call to action that is clear and descriptive
- Sharing options (do this on your thank-you pages too)
For more valuable tips, check out our Donation Page Best Practices.
Beyond BoFu: Getting Repeat Donations with Content Marketing
The funnel doesn’t end at BoFu, and while there isn’t a cute little acronym for this part, we could refer to this stage as “Inspired Donors.” These are the people who you can count on to support your organization over and over again (an organization’s most prized asset).
According to a report by Indiana University, just a 10% improvement in attrition leads to a 200% increase in each donor’s long-term value. This is because the amount and frequency of repeat donors tends to go up over time.
When you engage in content marketing for nonprofits beyond the BoFu stage, it helps your organization retain donors so that you can further develop this invaluable relationship.
Here are some effective ways to do that:
- Explain the importance of continued support
- Remind donors of the impact their donations made
- Educate audiences about the issue and why your organization is the solution
- Piggyback off of current events
- Ask for your donors’ help in spreading the word (they are your biggest advocates and can help support your marketing efforts)
Wrapping It Up
Content marketing for nonprofits is one of the best ways to reach potential donors and to bring them through your donor funnel. If done correctly, it’ll attract the right people, intrigue them, and create life-long supporters. As long as you are providing valuable content (and are clear in your marketing message), you really can’t go wrong.