The Q2 round-up: interesting articles about charity/content marketing

Graphic of an open laptop with reading glasses and a cup of coffee next to it

Here’s a round-up of interesting articles I’ve read this quarter about charity/content marketing, each with a brief summary and top takeaway in case you haven’t got time to read the full article.

I’m not associated with (nor responsible for the content of) the websites featured, but I thought the articles were worth sharing and I hope you find them useful!

This quarter’s recommended reading (most recent first)

2019’s best charity digital campaigns (so far)
Charity Digital News (25th June 2019)
I think the headline’s pretty self-explanatory; this is a round-up of notable digital campaigns from the year so far, of which the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild microsite is my favourite example.

My top takeaway: “Going digital for charities means adding firepower to fundraising reach. Charity digital campaigns can be done even on a shoestring budget with the right ideas in mind. For small to medium size charities, online digital fundraising campaigns need not be complex.

How charities can find the time to digitise – report
Charity Digital News (18th June 2019)
A joint report by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST) found that despite “high levels of willingness and enthusiasm to engage“, the biggest barrier to digitisation was “lack of time to learn how to practically implement and use technology“.

My top takeaway:The top five tips from the research findings include:

  • Start somewhere and don’t be disheartened if it goes wrong
  • Focus on the problem you’re trying to solve
  • Time-bound tests of the technology and then review
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Embed learning into the day-to-day.

How to use SEO traffic to make the world a better place
Search Engine Journal (13th June 2019)
This article suggests how organisations with high-traffic websites can “use their ranking success to help improve the world by bringing awareness and clicks to important on-brand social issues“, for example by donating banner ad space to good causes.

My top takeaway: Charities should “check out what content websites might be a good synergy with your cause – sites that already have banner ads or similar. Get in contact with the owners of those sites and see if they might be interested in donating some of their traffic’s attention.

Young people want to give – but not necessarily money
Third Sector (20th May 2019)
An interesting article about how to engage with cash-strapped under-25s (Generation Z), who are increasingly looking for a different relationship with charities and are more likely to volunteer their time than they are to donate money.

My top takeaway: 21-year-old Rosie, who has volunteered since her teens, explains how many young people feel about supporting charities. “So many of us feel passionately about issues but might not have the financial means to help. Offering time and support helps us to respond in a meaningful and tangible way. I think young people value connections and direct, personalised communications, which leads us to volunteering time and skills instead of money.”

Seven not-for-profit websites with great UX
Econsultancy (7th May 2019)
Some of the case studies featured in this article demonstrate how good content design can significantly improve user experience.

My top takeaway: The Parkinson’s UK website “prompts the user to select one of three options to indicate their current situation, directing them to the most relevant topics, advice and resources for that individual. Each of these three options takes you to a tailored landing page, which are well designed and feature plenty of padding and white space to break up the number of topics covered. The basics are covered, including a call-to-action within each section inviting the user to explore points of interest in greater detail. The mixture of videos, downloadable content and drop-down FAQs makes these landing pages varied and interesting without being overwhelming.

Five ways to make your digital marketing feel more human
MarketingProfs (7th May 2019)
This article contains some useful tips on how to create user-friendly content, including the nugget of wisdom below (which often comes up in my conversations with clients!).

My top takeaway:Consider how you’d communicate a particular message or announcement to a friend or someone sitting in the same room. Your experience as a human surpasses your experience as a marketer. Stick to the basics and communicate clearly.

Content design: what charities need to know
CharityComms (3rd May 2019)
I’m a big fan of Sarah Richards, founder of the content design movement and former head of content design at the Government Digital Service (GDS), who’s featured in this article about how to create content that meets users’ needs.

My top takeaway:Good content is about what users need (which isn’t always the same as what they think they want). So instead of ‘How will I write this?’ the question should be ‘What content will best meet this need?’. It’s not about the words your CEO wants you to publish. It’s whether you need to publish anything at all. It’s asking: why is this bit of copy not a calculator? And would a video work well here instead?

‘Charities should be better at reporting wider benefits to society’, says BHF director
Civil Society (16th April 2019)
An interesting piece about how charities could promote the wider benefits of charity shops in their communications.

My top takeaway:Charities should improve how they report the wider benefits they provide to society besides [raising money for] their main cause. Charity retailers provide a benefit to society through:

  • Providing a place for individuals and companies to offer their unwanted goods for reuse by someone else
  • Selling items such as furniture cheaper than they would be on the high street for consumers of limited means
  • Driving footfall on the high street by producing viable shops in a tough commercial environment
  • Regenerating the properties their shops are in
  • Creating jobs and volunteering opportunities within the stores
  • Putting money into the community through use of local delivery companies and service firms.”

What makes a successful rebrand?
Civil Society (12th April 2019)
This article looks at case studies of rebranding exercises from several charities and suggests that strategy, not design, is the most important factor in success.

My top takeaway:From attracting donors to working with beneficiaries, branding plays an important role in cementing a charity’s place in the sector and its ability to carry out its objectives. Charities must regularly adjust to reflect internal and external contexts.

5 tips for a data-driven content strategy that increases conversions
Search Engine Journal (2nd April 2019)
I’m always telling people to look at whatever visitor data they can get their hands on to identify how well their website content is performing / where they could make improvements; this article explains how best to go about this.

My top takeaway:Analyze the most popular content to decipher why it worked. It will help you create the content ideas that are most likely to resonate with your audience.

Let me know what you think of these articles (or any others you’ve read this month) in the comments.

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