Nonprofit Content Marketing in 2015: Storytelling and Visual Content Top the Charts, But What Else Did We Learn? | npENGAGE

Nonprofit Content Marketing in 2015: Storytelling and Visual Content Top the Charts, But What Else Did We Learn?

By on Nov 7, 2014


Nonprofit Content Marketing Report

Nonprofit marketers are doing more with content marketing – and feeling more confident about their effectiveness. They’re trying more tactics, using more social media platforms, growing in their internal knowledge and skills, and focusing on becoming better storytellers. In fact, sixty-six percent of nonprofits are focused on becoming better storytellers and sixty-three percent are working on creating better visual content.

It’s exciting to see how nonprofit professionals continue to embrace content marketing.  Sixty-one percent are using content marketing and sixty-nine percent are creating more content than they did one year ago.  Many are focused on storytelling as an initiative which tells us they’re beginning to understand the power of content marketing. – Joe Pulizzi, founder, Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing.

At the same time, it’s clear that the nonprofit sector has a long way to go with only thirty-five percent (up from twenty-six percent last year) rating themselves effective at content marketing.

But before we get too far into the report details, let’s start with a simple definition.

What is Content Marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive action.

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 quick search. Your potential donors and 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.

Great content is the key to 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 second nonprofit content marketing benchmark report – produced by Content Marketing Institute and BlackbaudNonprofit Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.

Key Findings from the 2015 Nonprofit Content Marketing Report

Sixty-one percent of nonprofit marketers use content marketing (Down from ninety-two percent in last years study – a number that I figured was inflated due to a lack of understanding in the questioning) and forty-one percent have a dedicated content marketing group who oversees content marketing strategy. Additionally, sixty-nine percent are producing more content than they were a year ago. Pretty promising numbers!

On the flip side, only twenty-three percent have a documented content strategy to guide their efforts and only thirty-five percent (up from twenty-six percent last year) of our nonprofit respondents rate themselves as effective at content marketing.

Here are a few of our second year benchmarks.

  • 61% of nonprofit marketers use content marketing and 69% are creating more content than they did one year ago.
  • 23% have a documented content marketing strategy; those who do are more effective in all areas of content marketing.
  • Nonprofit marketers are using an average of 12 content marketing tactics this year vs. 11 last year.
  • The tactic they use most is social media content (other than blogs) and their usage of it has risen from 86% last year to 93% this year.
  • Nonprofit marketers are using an average of 5 social media platforms this year vs. 4 last year; Instagram had the biggest increase in usage (from 17% last year to 38% this year).
  • 15% say they are successful at tracking ROI; however, having a documented content marketing strategy helps (34% of those who possess one say they are successful at tracking ROI).
  • Lack of budget is still the greatest challenge for many nonprofit marketers, but the proportion who cited it this year went down (67% last year vs. 56% this year).
  • The most often cited initiatives that nonprofit marketers are working on are becoming better storytellers (66%), creating visual content (63%), and creating more engaging/higher-quality content (62%)
  • The most often cited initiatives that nonprofit marketers say they’ll begin working on within 12 months are measuring content marketing ROI (39%) and developing a documented content marketing strategy (37%).

Make sure to download the full report.

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!


Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. 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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