If your nonprofit has a website, you are a content creator. That's because websites are no longer static. They are dynamic sources of continually changing information.
There are so many reasons to have good content on your nonprofit website, but two stand out:
- It engages supporters and potential supporters with information relevant to their needs.
- It helps people find you when they search online, either for your name specifically or for information about the issues on which your organization is an expert.
It is no longer enough to just put up a virtual business card for your organization. Your nonprofit website should be a hub of engaging information about your cause, the issues you address, and the resources that really help people.
Content today takes numerous forms. Here are some common ones that will turn your website into a destination spot for both long-time supporters and those who simply need what you have to offer.
Your nonprofit is an expert on something...an issue, a disease, a social problem, some sort of research. Take advantage of your expertise and provide articles that draw on it. Such content will be indexed by the search engines so readers will be able to find you when they search on the keywords in your content.
Acterra, an environmental group in California, exemplifies this approach. See the pull down menu in the box labeled "Find Answers" to see a list of topics on which the organization has numerous articles. Similarly, the Living Beyond Breast Cancer website is full of useful information, including this list of questions and answers for women facing this devastating and frightening disease.
Great images make your website a draw. Put them on every page. Show photos of the people you serve, your volunteers and your donors. Revolving images are great for keeping your website fresh and interesting. Take a look at the engaging and changing images at Rise, a Minnesota nonprofit that works with the disabled. The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity features a revolving photo gallery at the top of its page, giving the site a dynamic look and feel.
It is very easy to incorporate video on any website now with the use of services such as YouTube and Vimeo. Plus, short videos are quite popular and available through Vine and Instagram. If you are appealing to a young audience, video is really required to entice your young audience to tune in and stay tuned in. See how Be the Street uses an app, games, video contests and user generated memes to engage its young audience.
CURE, which supports research into epilepsy, incorporates a video on its website that brings home the heroism of people who live with epilepsy. Even tiny TROT (Therapeutic Riding of Tucson) was able to create a video about its services for children and convince a famous actor to narrate it.
Blogging is a great way to make sure that your website has continually renewing content. Besides, search engines love blogs and will visit your site frequently to pick up your latest content. Blogs can be easily incorporated into a website design and work well for organizations that are very active. Don't try this if you can't update the blog frequently. There is nothing sadder than a blog that hasn't been refreshed recently. One of my favorite nonprofit blogs is the Washington D.C. Goodwill's Fashionista.
The African Wildlife Foundation uses several blogs, written by various staff, to keep up with research on leopards, lions, mountain gorillas and zebra in Africa. These blogs are addictive for anyone whose passion is African wildlife conservation.
A news or press room on your website can be a source of renewing content and an absolute blessing to visiting journalists. Post news releases about the doings at your organization and links to news stories that have been published about it. See Soles4Souls for an example of a vibrant news room. Notice that it has a gallery of downloadable photos that journalists can use for their stories.
User Generated Content
Get your readers and supporters to provide content for your site. If you can get a steady stream of content flowing from your readers, it will add a wonderful dynamism to your site. Encourage readers to leave comments on your blog and relate their own stories in a special location on your website. The March of Dimes does a wonderful job of inviting parents to tell their baby stories. PBS invites people to share their experience of visiting a national park; and Safe Kids urges parents and caregivers to share their ideas about preventing child injuries.
If your subject area lends itself to a discussion forum, this is another way to create content from your supporters. A discussion forum can be a great draw to keep people coming back and can be a real help to many. The American Cancer Society is a perfect fit for discussion forums and a good model for similar groups.
There are so many ways to share information on your website, creating a content hub that will both help your followers and get the word out about your cause. Much of this content can be re-purposed for other communication channels too. Think of your social networks, newsletters, and annual report just for starters. Dive in and start creating.
What kinds of content are you using? Share your content ideas below.