Can your nonprofit do like The Journal and create content once... then repurpose it again and again to engage and keep more donors? Find out:
In BtoB Magazine I read how the goal of The Wall Street Journal's new content management system is to allow it to "create content once, then sell advertising against it in many different formats: print, online and even events."
I'd argue that a goal like this isn't restricted to B2B. Modified, it should be your goal, too ... especially if you want to keep your donors.
Let's tinker with the WSJ goal so it applies to you:
For better fundraising and development, a goal of your organization should be to create primary content once, then repurpose it across different donor communications channels and formats: press releases, website articles, print newsletters/newsletter cover letters, e-mail/direct mail appeals and even bequest marketing materials.
If you aren't creating enough primary content to do this, then I'd also argue that you aren't creating enough content to engage and keep your donors.
I don't mean to sound grumpy, but a single annual appeal does not a relationship make. For effective relationship fundraising, you need regular, relevant donor communications.
Which is where this breed of content management comes in. So how can you make it work for you?
To find out, let's study how a healthcare charity might do it. (Note: some of the examples I use are invented, but many are real: culled from different organizations, interviews, and my own swipe file.):
1. Interviews: in order to create the press release in number 2, interviews come first. I started with interviews because if you adhere to the "create content once" mantra, the questions you ask will be frontloaded to gather information not only for the press release, but for additional content to follow. (See last month's newsletter for sample interview questions.)
Caveat: if your PR, donor communications and fundraising teams are siloed this takes coordination.
2. Press release: using new therapeutic equipment never before adapted for pediatric use, a boy - whose family was told he'd never walk again - takes his first steps. The slant of the charity's press release is on the new technology, so it includes details about the equipment, but also pull-quotes from family members and medical staff, and briefly, the boy's story.
3. Website article: with the press release as background, online content is created for the news section of website. This time the slant may be on the doctors and nurses, for example, and what made the boy a terrific candidate for the new equipment. It could incorporate some of the old details, and include new ones (either way, you'll save time because you don't have to reinvent the wheel).
4. E-newsletter: A vignette that borrows from - and links to - the website article and possibly press release, becomes part of your (regularly published) e-mail newsletter. Alternately, it could become a "bookend" message to cross channels and let donors know a print newsletter is coming soon ... and the other end of the bookend could be an e-mail update to follow up the print n/l or appeal.
5. Donor newsletter piece: the focus is now on the boy and his family, with quotes, pictures, updates and so on.
6. Newsletter cover letter: Unless your newsletter is a self-mailer, you can include a cover letter/appeal that tells the boy's story and includes an Ask. (I wrote about cover letters here.) If not, the story can become a stand-alone direct mail appeal.
7. Bequest and/or upgrade marketing materials: much of the content you see above can be used to build a solid case for long-term/legacy gifts - the equipment that changes the course of a boy's life, the lasting difference it makes for him and his family, the medical professionals who helped him (did I mention it's a teaching hospital?), and so forth.
By the way, I'm not giving social the cold shoulder. If you're active in social media, you likely see potential blog posts, tweets, videos and more here. My focus is copywriting for direct mail and e-mail.
I'm also assuming that in each of these communications, you include relevant calls to action: how to donate, get in touch, where to find more, etc. (I say relevant because a press release will not include a "Won't you please donate now?" Ask, e.g.) Possibly with the exception of the press release, I'm assuming you keep the donor firmly in the center of all this.
Lastly, I'll head off at the pass any thank-you letter questions, since regular readers know I'm a thank-or-else kind of gal. As long as you update your thank-yous regularly, yes, you could even adapt such a story to use in your acknowledgments.
Just make certain that the thank-you relates to the appeal and does not go to regular donors who may be sponsoring an entirely different program: they will notice.
For the record, I've seen -- and been part of -- this kind of content creation. It works... and I hope you'll put it to work for your cause (and for your donors), too.