If your nonprofit has a website, you are a content creator. That's because websites are not static. They are dynamic sources of continually changing information.
There are so many reasons to have good content on your nonprofit website, but two stand out:
- It engages supporters and potential supporters with information relevant to their needs.
- It helps people find you when they search online, either for your name specifically or for information about the issues on which your organization is an expert.
It is no longer enough to just put up a virtual business card for your organization. Your nonprofit website should be a hub of engaging information about your cause, the issues you address, and the resources that really help people.
Content today takes numerous forms. Here are some common ones that will turn your website into a destination spot for both long-time supporters and those who simply need what you have to offer.
Your nonprofit is an expert on something: an issue, a disease, a social problem, some sort of research. Take advantage of your expertise and provide articles that draw on it. Such content will be indexed by the search engines so readers will be able to find you when they search for the keywords in your content. You can also use those articles to keep your social media fresh.
Examples: Acterra, an environmental group in California, exemplifies this approach. On their website, see the pull-down menu in the box labeled "Energy and Climate" to see a list of evergreen articles. The beauty of "evergreen" articles is that they don't go out of date often. Load up with them and then swap out on a regular basis.
Great images make your website a draw. Put them on every page. Show photos of the people you serve, your volunteers, and your donors. Revolving images are great for keeping your website fresh and interesting. These days, almost anyone can take great photos with nothing more than a smartphone. It's inexpensive and easy.
Examples: Take a look at the engaging and changing images at Rise, a Minnesota nonprofit that works with the disabled. The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity is dominated by dynamic photos giving the site life and energy.
It is very easy to incorporate video on any website now with the use of services such as YouTube and Vimeo. Plus, short videos are quite popular and available on Instagram. If you are appealing to a young audience, video is really required to entice your young audience to tune in and stay tuned in.
Examples: Rainforest Alliance mixes in videos amidst the content on its website, creating a wonderful mix of creative images, moving and static.
Blogging is a great way to make sure that your website has continually renewing content. Besides, search engines love blogs and will visit your site frequently to pick up your latest content. Blogs can be easily incorporated into website design and work well for organizations that are very active. Don't try this if you can't update the blog frequently. There is nothing sadder than a blog that hasn't been refreshed recently.
Examples: The African Wildlife Foundation uses several blogs, written by various staff, to keep up with research on leopards, lions, mountain gorillas and zebra in Africa. These blogs are addictive for anyone whose passion is African wildlife conservation.
- News or Resource Room
A news or press room on your website can be a source of renewing content and an absolute blessing to visiting journalists. Post news releases about the doings at your organization and links to news stories that have been published about it.
Examples: See Soles4Souls for an example of a vibrant newsroom. Notice that it has a gallery of downloadable photos that journalists can use for their stories.
- User-Generated Content
Get your readers and supporters to provide content for your site. If you can get a steady stream of content flowing from your readers, it will add a wonderful dynamism to your site. Encourage readers to leave comments on your blog and relate their own stories in a special location on your website. But do not leave comments unmoderated. Nasty comments could show up, so be prepared to delete and even boot commentators off.
Examples: The March of Dimes does a wonderful job of inviting parents to tell their baby stories, and Safe Kids urges parents and caregivers to share their ideas about preventing child injuries.
There are so many ways to share information on your website, creating a content hub that will both help your followers and get the word out about your cause. Much of this content can be re-purposed for other communication channels too. Think of your social networks, newsletters, and annual report just for starters. Dive in and start creating.