The Content Marketing Institute recently completed their annual content marketing survey. Their findings about nonprofits were hardly surprising. Lots of nonprofits are apathetic about content marketing, or worse, unsure how they can connect it to fundraising outcomes.
Thirty percent of nonprofit marketers neither agree nor disagree that they can demonstrate that content marketing has increased the number of people helped or served by their organization. Almost one-fourth (23%) neither agree nor disagree they can demonstrate content marketing has increased event attendance/participation. And 17% don’t agree or disagree that they could demonstrate content marketing has increased audience engagement.
Almost half (49%) neither agree nor disagree they can demonstrate how content marketing has increased fundraising. And more than one-third (35%) neither agree nor disagree they can demonstrate how content marketing has increased donations/sales. — Excerpt from A 30-Minute Hack for Nonprofits to Improve Their Content Marketing [New Research]
This confusion about whether content marketing is making any difference at all is tragic, because nonprofits desperately need new ways to attract donors that aren't direct mail acquisition. Return on investment for direct mail in the .2% to .5% (or even if you're magically getting 1%) range just isn't sustainable.
It might just be that nonprofits have trouble measuring the impact of content marketing because all they are doing is creating content that attracts people. I believe that for a nonprofit to effectively practice content marketing, they need to implement an entire inbound marketing program (see more on the difference between the two in this article from Social Media Today).
Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing that focuses on building awareness. Inbound marketing as a whole focuses not just on building awareness but also driving conversions (email subscriptions, donations, volunteer signups, event registrations, etc.). Without an entire system that drives towards conversions surrounding it, content marketing alone will never be successful for a nonprofit, nor should it be.