Content Creation

4 Reasons Non-Profits Are Playing Content Marketing Catch-Up


December 17, 2013 (Updated: January 26, 2023)

Today’s non-profits face an uphill battle to fulfill their intended missions. Limited staffing budgets, cuts in government aid, recruitment of top talent and other factors have all impacted the non-profit sector. This topic is near and dear to me because I lived it.

I saw first-hand the challenges non-profits face – and particularly their marketing challenges – when I served as a social media content creator and marketing coordinator for one in my hometown.

While most non-profits understand the importance of content creation, they lack the resources for execution. Content marketing has indeed increased among non-profits because of its flexibility, but it’s still overcoming many issues in this area.

In order of importance, here are the reasons I believe non-profits struggle with content creation.

The Eternal Lack of Funds

Shocker right? It’s the root of all issues in my opinion. Lack of funds prevents nonprofits from exceeding their content marketing goals. It’s that simple.

  • Lack of funds means staffing is limited.
  • Lack of funds means top talent goes elsewhere for employment.
  • Lack of funds means money is designated for other must-need areas of the organization.

You want to create a new website? Oftentimes, the first question is “How much will it cost?” instead of “Will this benefit our organization?” or “Will this website carry out our mission in a greater capacity?”

Nonprofit executives need to be extra diligent when it comes to spending which means marketing departments are limited by a fixed, often low budget. It’s a double-edged sword: non-profits want to be good stewards with their donations and help their causes, but increasing the marketing budget will lead to an increase in donations and/or growth.

There’s Pressure to Do More With Less

Despite the lack of funding, non-profit execs still expect marketers to produce. In fact, the mentality is to produce more. If we have less of X we need to overcompensate and overproduce more of Y. Overexertion in this way, means a couple things:

Quality of Content Suffers

Let’s face it. If you’re under pressure to produce more with fewer resources, quality suffers.

Strategy is Ignored or Rushed

With no implementation strategy, you’re left throwing what you have against the wall. It will fly, but more than likely it won’t stick.

Staffs made up of only one or two people in the marketing/communications department don’t have the capacity to consult multiple people about their ideas, which can lead to content creation for the sole purpose of producing something….anything at all.

Employee Burnout

Also, working hard in small staffs or perhaps as a one-person band can take its toll. You’re asked to do your job and then expected to help in other areas of the organization from time to time. It can take its toll and become frustrating.

More Donors Are Moving Online

Non-profits are notorious for having donor-bases that are used to direct-mail campaigns and phone calls. This is changing and non-profits are adjusting, but at a slower rate.

The demand for content is through the roof and there is a real opportunity for non-profits to leverage their position online. However, making the transition can be quite the ordeal. If you’re an established non-profit, no matter how large or small, moving to digital space takes time for your organization. It also requires time and patience to communicate your shift to all of your supporters. This is dicey and requires a lot of resources and a lot of time invested.

I mentioned a shift here. The shift is in reference to organizations embracing new media. Most non-profits shouldn’t turn their entire marketing efforts exclusively to content marketing online. It would be foolish. Instead a multi-channel approach is required with both old and new marketing tactics working in harmony and on multiple platforms.

They’re Slow to Adapt To Technology

When you are limited on resources, technology updates suffer. I’m not talking about giving staff the latest tablets, but rather the information technology realm. Some non-profits are not adapting their IT foundation, which can cripple production – or at the very least delay productivity.

Take this simplistic example: suppose your organization wishes to start an online Facebook campaign and in order to get the most out of your campaign your employees need to participate. They need to share and take an active role in answering questions and sharing content. This will be difficult if the IT department has blocked social sites from your network.

Of course, having the latest software can certainly aid any non-profit. It’s harder to produce high-quality content with Paint instead of Photoshop.

There’s No Overnight Solution

Some of these areas are harder to address. I’ve just listed a few problems that non-profits face. Some of these variables may never change, but I do believe non-profits can do one thing better before implementing their content marketing plan: strategize.

Far too often, organizations have no clue what they’re trying prior to implementation. Take the time beforehand to prepare and forecast your organization’s goals. If both long and short-term plans are laid out, execution should come with fewer hiccups.

What do you think hold non-profits back? If you work for a non-profit, what major challenges do you face?

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