Content marketing”  is a buzzword of sorts.

A term that you’re likely hearing about more and more – especially if you pay attention to the B2B or B2C marketing worlds. But, in reality, content marketing has been around since at least 1895 when John Deere launched a magazine titled “The Furrow”, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. I’m sure we could find even older examples if we tried hard enough, but that’s not the point. The point is that despite content marketing having been in use for over a century it’s just now becoming a hot topic – one that’s insisting marketers take notice. A quick glance at the term “content marketing” on Google trends will shed some light on just how hot.

With content marketing interest on the rise and nonprofit specific resources lacking, we thought it important to help our sector better understand what content marketing is and how it’s being used by nonprofits to advance their missions. But before we get into the details, let’s start with a simple definition.

What is Content Marketing?

According to Wikipedia content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers (or donors, volunteers,  advocates, etc. – inserted by me). This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

Why is Content Marketing Important?

We live in the information age – people have all the info they need at their fingertips and Google has trained us to find anything we need by doing a simple search.  Your potential donors are searching. Your potential volunteers are searching. Funders are searching. Patients are searching. Parents are searching. Those who would benefit from your programs and services are searching.  Everyone is searching.

We also live in the information overload age – meaning there is more information being fed to us than ever before and there’s no chance of us actually making sense of it all. This requires us to be selective. We find the sources of information we like and trust. Then we stick with those and ignore the others.

We’re all overloaded with information, but at the same time still searching and browsing to gain knowledge of new things. Great content (aka Epic Content according to Joe Pulizzi) is the key to being found and capturing the attention of those you need to reach.

So… how are nonprofits taking to content marketing? Let’s take a look at a few of the key findings from the first ever nonprofit content marketing report – produced by Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud.

Key Findings from the 2014 Nonprofit Content Marketing Report

We are pleased to report that 92% of the nonprofit professionals we surveyed are using content marketing (check out the nonprofit content marketing infographic). 69% have someone who oversees content marketing strategy and 65% are producing more content than they were a year ago. Pretty promising numbers!

On the flip side, only 26% of our nonprofit respondents rate themselves as effective at content marketing, and only 25% have a documented content strategy to guide their efforts.

“Forty-five percent of nonprofit professionals are challenged with a lack of knowledge and training about content marketing, compared with twenty-six percent of for-profit marketers,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of the book Epic Content Marketing. “As more nonprofit professionals become better educated on content marketing, we hope to see more of them develop documented content strategies and grow in confidence with their effectiveness.”

As knowledge grows among nonprofit professionals, we expect their confidence in content marketing to grow as well. We look forward to reporting back to you on the trends we uncover over the years to come.

Here are a few of our first year benchmarks.

  • 92% of nonprofit professionals use content marketing.
  • Nonprofit professionals use an average of 11 content marketing tactics.
  • 26% of nonprofit professionals believe they are effective at content marketing.
  • 25% of nonprofit professionals have a documented content strategy.
  • 69% of nonprofit organizations have someone in place to oversee content marketing strategy.
  • 65% of nonprofit professionals are producing more content than they did one year ago.
  • 38% of nonprofit professionals plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.
  • Fundraising is the top organizational goal for nonprofit content marketing.
  • On average, 20% of nonprofit marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing.

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Make sure to download the full report and check out the infographic.

It’s Your Turn

What’s your take? Is content important? Are you using content marketing at your nonprofit? Show us some examples in the comments or ask any questions you might have. We’ll be sure to find the answer!

By Frank Barry, Director of Digital Marketing at Blackbaud. Find Frank on Twitter @franswaa

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, helps nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising so they can focus changing the world. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

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