How to Create Your 2019 Digital Content Strategy

How to Create Your 2019 Digital Content Strategy

Julia Claire Campbell Content Creation, Nonprofits, Online Fundraising, Social Media, Strategy 4 Comments

How to Create Your 2019 Digital Content Strategy

Welcome to the fifth episode of Nonprofit Social Media Nerds, where we discuss and demo social media tools, tech, tips, and tricks.

(Most) Fridays at noon we will come to you live and discuss a topic designed to help you use your limited time and resources for social media more effectively and efficiently.

My fellow Nonprofit Social Media Nerd is certified Social Media Strategist Josh Hirsch, the Director of Mission and Communication for Susan G. Komen South Florida.

Together we co-administer the Facebook Group Nonprofit Social Media Storytelling.

Our group is a place for nonprofit marketers, fundraisers, and social media nerds to share challenges, ask questions, and give advice.

Today’s topic – Digital content strategy!

Do you have a well-defined plan and strategy for the content you are going to share on digital channels in 2019?

We think you should – and we are going to show you how to create one in just a few steps.

To get more detail, read this post and watch the replay of our live session below or on my Facebook Page.


Why is having a Digital Content Strategy for your nonprofit crucial to success heading into 2019?

Here are 3 reasons:

It establishes trust and credibility. By putting relevant content out to your audience on a consistent basis, you are proving that you are a go-to resource and a nonprofit worth supporting in the long run.

You will get potential donors to like and know you. If you simply start talking to donor prospects with a fundraising appeal, you will have missed the opportunity to “court” them.  By creating and publishing consistent content, your prospects get to know you and the nonprofit, and ultimately form a connection with you.

You will condition your donors and donor prospects to hear from you. “Oh, it’s an email from my favorite nonprofit, talking about something that I care about, and telling me something new/unique/interesting!” Once they get accustomed to opening your emails, or watching your Facebook videos, opening and responding to your year-end fundraising email will be much easier.

So how do you create your nonprofit’s Digital Content Strategy in just a few simple steps?

1) Conduct a Digital Audit of the past year. 

It’s not as scary as it seems.

I recommend taking a look at your digital content from 2018.

If you can run a report, do that. If you can’t, look at the most popular posts, tweets, blog articles, videos, etc that you shared in 2018.

Write down 10 things that worked.

Write down 10 things that didn’t work as well as you hoped.

What do you notice? Are there any trends?

What kinds of content – videos, live streams, photos, stories – worked best?

What learnings and insight can you glean from this?

2) Take out a piece of paper and write the letters POST on it in a column.

To create our simple Digital Content Strategy, we are going to use the POST method.

This method was popularized in the fabulous book Groundswell.

POST stands for People, Objectives, Strategies, and Tools.

I love it because it puts your community first – the people for which you are going to create and share this content online.

So let’s go through the steps.

Take out a piece of paper and put POST in a column, and take notes.

P – People – You need to know who you want to reach

Think strategically about your community and who it’s comprised of.

Never start any Digital Content Strategy thinking about your nonprofit and what YOU want to promote.

Think of you audience FIRST.

Who are you trying to reach? 

Where do they hang out?

What’s the best way to reach them?

What do they care about?

What do they want to know more about?

O – Objectives – What does success look like?

What exactly are you trying to achieve?

Increase in total amount of gifts? Getting more online donors?

Brand re-positioning? More community engagement?

Write down 2-3 main objectives for your Digital Content Strategy. 

How will you measure your success?

I highly recommend reading the fabulous books The ONE Thing and Essentialism as you plan for the New Year. 

Less is always more.

Don’t spread yourself too thin by writing down more than 3 objectives. 

S – Strategy – What are you going to create?

Social media is a value exchange.

People PAY attention, you give them something worth paying attention to.

Strategy #1 – Become THE go-to resource.

Think about this for a second.

Why do you follow, like, and share certain pages, organizations, brands, and people on social media?

Which email newsletters keep your interest and get you reading them week after week?

Which blogs do you frequent and subscribe to?

If you are like most people, you engage with certain places and people on digital channels because they are entertaining, humorous, and/or provide useful, valuable information to their online communities.

Due to the nature of our work, nonprofits cannot post 100% purely entertaining or humorous content.

This leaves us with one choice – to become an indispensable, important, go-to resource for our fans and followers.

After all, you are not entitled to an audience.

People need a reason to subscribe to your newsletter, to like you on Facebook, to follow you on Instagram, etc.

Action Step: Go back to P.

Take out a piece of paper and write down everything you know about your audience.

  • What do they want to know more about?
  • What gets them “passionately inspired or pissed off”?
  • Where are their knowledge gaps?
  • Think like a journalist – what is the hook?
  • Relate what you do to current events and topics that people are already discussing/debating.
  • Think beyond your organization.
  • Think about the bigger cause itself.

Becoming a go-to resource is NOT about what you want to tell your audience – it’s about what they want to know, learn, and hear.

Strategy #2: Share stories.

In study, after study, after study, it is always “revealed” that donors simply want to know 2 things from nonprofits:

  • What did you do with my money?
  • Are you making a meaningful difference?

Stories are the best way to answer both of these questions.

Make a plan to collect and share more stories in 2019.

Action Step: Download the Digital Storytelling Workbook to determine which stories to collect, craft, and share. 

T – Technology and Tools – How will you make your ideas spread?

Only once you understand your people, your objective, and your strategies can you select the technology and tools.

Most digital fundraisers start with the tools first – how can we get likes on Instagram, how can we get more followers on Facebook, etc.

But these are the wrong questions to ask.

Look at your objectives.

If one main objective is to increase donor retention this year (and this should be on EVERYONE’S list), you want to focus on the platforms popular with your donors.

If your main objective is to reach younger donors, then choose platforms accordingly. Pew Internet has helpful research on the demographic make-up of the most popular social media channels.

To go through an example, let’s choose the very common objective of “raising awareness.”

You want people “to be more aware” of your work and your impact.

The theory goes that if they are more aware, they will be more likely to come to your events, to sit on your Board, to volunteer, and to become lifelong donors.

And how do people find out information about issues, causes, organizations, and other things they are interested in? If you said GOOGLE, then you are correct!

To succeed with Google, you need a website. And not just any website – the best one you can possibly create and afford.

#1 Digital Tool Before You Do Anything Else – IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE

I harp on this a lot, because it always strikes me how many organizations want to explore 7 different social media platforms when they have a terrible, horrible, outdated, clumsy website.

Your website is your most important marketing, communications, outreach, and fundraising tool. FULL STOP.

Get your website in order. Include stories and visuals that will speak to your prospects – the people that don’t know about you but you want to bring them into the fold.

Take out any information that is not easy to understand.

For ideas and inspiration on creating a fabulous nonprofit website, check out EveryAction’s list of the best nonprofit website designs of 2017.


Much ado has been made about email being dead.

Yes, boring, spammy, uninteresting email is certainly dead. If it ever lived in the first place!

The kind of email communications I’m talking about are brief, sent out frequently but not so much that they fatigue your audience, and convey your accomplishments and your impact. Short, sweet, to the point.

Email is not designed for YOU.

It should be designed and written for your audience – and in the case of nonprofits, email audiences tend to be donors or prospects.

Answer their questions, get to the heart of what makes them support you passionately.

Use email to keep them in the loop with you, to show them what you are building together, not to just spam them incessantly with fundraising appeals and event invitations.

For some good nonprofit email examples, check out Pamela Grow’s What’s In My Inbox.

#3 Digital Tool – BLOG

Yes, blogging. It’s important!

If you don’t think anyone reads blogs anymore, take a look at the results of this research: 77% of Internet users read blogs and companies that blog get 55% more website visitors.

You can’t argue with the statistics. Blogging, when done consistently and done well, attracts website traffic and more engaged members of your online community.

The kind of blog I am talking about is not the wordy diatribe best left to the mommy bloggers.

Nonprofit blogs should function like longer Facebook posts.

They should be heavy on visuals and stories, impact and achievements.

What did you do with my money? Answer this question in a blog.

Why should I give you more money, or give you any at all in the first place? Answer these objections and challenges with a fantastic story on your blog.

For more tips about starting and maintaining a nonprofit blog, check out my presentation Make Blogging a Part of Your Social Media Strategy.


You control the content, the design, the make-up of your website, email, and blog.

You do NOT control these important things on social media sites.

Do not build your house on rented land – invest time in a great website, relevant email communications, and an interesting blog.

If you have time left over, you can explore Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.


Lacking a coherent Digital Content Strategy is often the reason that nonprofits aren’t getting the results they want in their digital marketing.

Some nonprofits treat social media and digital channels like one-way advertisements!

Remember that even though you are doing great work, no one owes you their attention or their time.

You MUST add value.

You MUST be communicating to a specific audience.

You MUST not be boring.

Cut through the fluff and the noise.

Address the most pervasive myths and stereotypes about your work, your clients, and the impact that you have.

Give your audience the REAL inside scoop and information about the cause and how to help.

Have questions or feedback? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Comments 4

  1. Jim Wells

    What a great blog post, Julia.
    The #1 reason I have stopped working with several faith-based institutions and nonprofit organizations is because they refuse to use the content we develop to expand their reach/influence beyond their existing members/supporters.
    They don’t/won’t capture names & email addresses of visitors & volunteers.
    They won’t try look alike audiences on Facebook.
    And it takes herculean effort to get them to post new content to their websites.
    Then they wonder why they aren’t growing and why they are continually scrambling for funding.
    Its heartbreaking.

    1. Post

    Thank for sharing good information and tips about content plan. There are useful advice that I will use.

  3. Sonny P.

    Don’t forget about reaching out to businesses as part of your strategy. There are many ways to that businesses can help nonprofits. A trustworthy sincere business-to-business relationship is one obvious bestowment that is sometimes overlooked. Businesses should embrace a level of corporate responsibility and develop partnerships between themselves and members of the nonprofit organizations.

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