Non-Profit Content: Small Budgets, Big Impact

Non-Profit Content: Small Budgets, Big Impact

If any sector needs to maximize the value of content, it is the non-profit space. While operating on smaller budgets than their corporate counterparts, many non-profit organizations regularly produce content, ranging from blogs to mailers to print magazines.

So non-profits clearly recognize the power of reaching audiences at the right time and place to encourage engagement and ultimately drive donation. Nonetheless, some remain understandably wary of oversaturating their audience. Especially when it comes to asking for donations—a simple increase in the number of calls-to-donate is rarely the best approach. But non-profits can take this best practice too far. Overcorrecting—too many content pieces with too few direct calls to action—is rarely a formula for success either. As usual, the best approach lies somewhere in the middle. Instead of overly focusing on the frequency of these asks, non-profit marketers should strive to have their calls for donations work as hard as possible.

And just how can marketers make this content work harder? One key to success is creating unique asks. I recently received an excellent mailer from Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital soliciting donations for a new type of research. A fresh, crisp piece neatly informed the reader of an innovative therapy. But what stuck with me was the flexibility of their ask for donations: They offered three separate ways to give to MSK (pictured below, left). Importantly, they also underscored the ease of giving by emphasizing that only three steps were involved (pictured below, right). Altogether, it was a far more comprehensive approach than an italicized “Please consider a gift to MSK” at the end of a piece.







(Source: Memorial Sloan Kettering)

Small steps in this direction can also make a sizeable impact. The article below, from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, pushes a different and unique way to make a gift: through a charitable gift annuity. As part of a seasonal magazine in which many articles drive towards a donation, this request similarly adds an air of flexibility to readers’ donation options.

(Source: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital)

Another way to maximize donations is to finely tailor the ask toward its audience. NYU Langone publishes a seasonal magazine, NYU Langone Health, for a physician audience. It included the strikingly bespoke request below. Practicing doctors are decidedly the audience most likely to understand the true cost of medical school, and thus receive a clear pitch for scholarship donations—likely maximizing donations over a simple gift request.

(Source: NYU Langone)

Furthermore, even nudges as small as a relatable photograph or a relevant paragraph can likely make a difference. The postcard below from Dana-Farber, sent to previous donors, makes use of striking imagery—a doctor comforting a child undergoing cancer treatment.

(Source: Dana-Farber)

Past donors may have fought cancer themselves, or had a friend or family member stricken. While their brush with cancer may have occurred in the past, the card reminds the audience subtly, with a human touch, that the fight continues. Such a provocative message simply could not be conveyed by a diagram of molecules or a generic man in a lab coat.

Non-profits need to make every marketing dollar work as hard as possible – this includes their content budgets. As a best practice, non-profits should not be shy about asking for donations. And they should be strategic and purposeful in how they make the ask — don’t make it seem like an afterthought! Instead, giving audiences unique, relevant content will likely drive higher engagement and, ultimately, motivate more donors to give.


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