We quadrupled our blog traffic, can you? Simple guide to content marketing for nonprofits

With each nonprofit client that comes through ArcStone’s doors, we encourage them to either start a blog or give their existing blog more attention. Now, we wouldn’t risk wasting nonprofit’s already slim budget and tight schedule if we didn’t truly believe in the value of content marketing. But at points, it’s hard to convince clients that this effort is really worth it.

That’s why today, we are going to tell you a story: the story of how we implemented the strategy we encourage others to and as a result, saw an increase of 4x the traffic to our blog in just two years. Our story can serve as a general guide to content marketing for nonprofits.

Where we were with our content marketing strategy

Before we dive into the glory of the here and now, let’s rewind and be real with where we were at. Like many of you, we were posting at most 2 to 3 times per week, whenever someone felt inspired to do so or had the bandwidth. In addition to this lack of posting frequency, we weren’t monitoring engagement.

We knew we should do more, but we just weren’t allocating time or attention to it when there were other, more immediate business goals to which to attend.

For the total month of May 2015, we saw about 600 blog views.

2 years later we’re seeing over 2,800.

The simple content marketing strategy we implemented that your nonprofit can, too!

Many of you have likely thought, “we should blog more” and encouraged your team to help write when they can. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually do much to help your nonprofit. You need a nonprofit content marketing strategy that will keep you focused and consistent.

Here are 11 essential + manageable tasks to add to your content strategy that will take you to that next level.

1. Set goals:

Rather than risk finding ourselves right where we started in a couple months, we decided to set some lofty, yet manageable, goals. One of ArcStone’s digital strategists, Jenna, and I sat down and decided we’d post five blogs a week and then come review the results after six months. We also determined we’d spend more time on designing images for this content, promoting it and then checking in on our Google Analytics each week.

2. Create audience personas:

As a team, we took the time to map out distinct audience types. For your nonprofit, this likely includes a few different types of donors, volunteers, community members and other users. Once we had each audience member in mind, we were able to brainstorm content that could speak to each of them. Get going on this aspect by using our Nonprofit Audience Persona Ebook »


3. Designate blog ownership to a leader/editor:

One way many content strategies collapse is a lack of consistent execution. To avoid this, we assigned one final editor/project lead. Though we would be pulling content written by several team members, I was given the role of ensuring the content was ready to go and implement correctly into our CRM. This also helped us ensure our brand voice was prevalent across all posts and the formatting looked right.

If you have any trouble structuring your team or your content development workflow, take a look at Lisa’s, VP of Marketing at ArcStone, post on Content Team Roles »


4. Utilize a (free!) content management tool:

We recognize that it can be hard to get the whole team on board with yet another tool, but we promise this one is worth it! We use Trello to implement and track all our content marketing efforts. You can read the full review here but we’ll also show you some snippets on how to make it work for your nonprofit below.


5. Organize content by strategic categories:

A blog with just a list of all posts can be overwhelming to users. If you’re a donor, you may want the latest report on where their money went whereas a volunteer wants to hear about the next volunteer opportunity. Make sure these users can get the content they want when they land on your blog. Better yet, make sure that when they click on their blog category, that section is filled with good content for them to look through.

Trello makes it easy to label all your content. Here’s an example of how we segment ours within the tool. Each month we try to have each color represented across the calendar at least a couple of times:

6.  Assign due dates:

Without a due date, it’s easy to push things off for a later date. We used the calendar “power-up” tool in Trello to track these.


7. Focus on collaboration:

Through the communication capabilities in Trello, we were able to tag each other on cards and have conversations about posts when necessary. Being able to keep these conversations organized in one place is helpful as it allows you to stay organized and if need be, look back at the conversations later.


8. Promote:

Though we’d like to believe, “if you build it, they will come” it’s not entirely true with content marketing. In fact, Lisa wrote a whole post on why this is and how you can make up for it with promotional and SEO work.

This being said, couple your awesome new production strategy with a content promotion strategy.

Across social networks, we posted not only on ArcStone’s account, but also some of our team members’. This not only reached a larger audience but showed the personality behind our team.

When it came to Twitter, we posted 3-4 times a day, often tagging relevant accounts. This created some major upticks in traffic to our blog. social-media-strategy

3 times a week, we’d also post on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. For LinkedIn we focus on more professional-oriented content and thought leadership, whereas Facebook we try to post more on office culture and community.

If you’re unsure of what social media platform is right for you, listen to co-owners of ArcStone talk through how you can determine this with The Nerdy Nonprofit Podcast.

Lastly, we sent out our newsletter once-monthly with the top-performing posts from that month. We found we were faster at getting these sent out since we already knew what content to use.

9. Analyze:

All this effort doesn’t get you very far if you’re not monitoring it. You may see a bit more traffic but it’s going to come and go at an unpredictable rate if you’re not making changes to your strategy based on it.

Learn some of the basics in Google Analytics with this post “Nonprofits Using Google Analytics—Get tracking the Right Metrics.”

10. Redesign (when the budget allows):

Once you have some significant insight on aspects like what type of content your audience likes and what areas of the site they go to after the blog, you can consider making design changes. We used heat-mapping tool CrazyEgg to see what parts of the blog users clicked on and paired that with our user behavior insight in Analytics to make strategic design enhancements.


11. Keep trying new things:

Once you get started for a few months, the above tips will get you to a great place. However, in a year or so you’ll want to round up your team and come up with fresh ways to approach your nonprofit’s blog strategy. This will help you get your most creative juices flowing and aid your nonprofit in standing out amongst the crowd.

As proof that the above really can work, here’s a snapshot of before and after:

MAY 2015
MAY 2017
Blog Views /Month: 641 2,298
Pageviews /Month: 4,289 8,941
Sessions /Month: 1,831 4,985
% New Sesssions: 70.6% 85%
Organic Traffic: –––> Up 155%
Traffic from Social: –––> Up 74%
Newsletter Subscribers: ~250 ~1030

You can see that the increase in blog views also contributed to an increase in overall website sessions and pageviews, as well as traffic from organic searches and social media. What’s more, all this traffic also lead to 4x as many newsletter subscribers. It’s a lovely trickle down effect!

We hope your nonprofit sees the value in a well-executed content marketing plan. More importantly, we hope you are encouraged by the fact that we, too have a small team. This strategy is crafted around keeping things manageable and simple. Successful content marketing for nonprofits is possible as long as you stick to your strategy, monitor it and continually work to improve it.

Get help with your nonprofit’s content strategy from our team by reaching out here »

Nonprofit branding: 5 pieces to make your nonprofit brand work for you


Branding is not the hottest topic in the nonprofit sector. According to Standford Social Innovation Review, skeptics tend to see it as a “commercial pursuit of monetary gain” or they fear the pursuit of a strong brand will overshadow the pursuit of the greater good. In some ways, such opinions are admirable; no one wants to see the nonprofit realm become commercialized.

However, there are ways to make your nonprofit branding efforts work for you that go beyond monetary gain. If your nonprofit brand had a strong presence – as in public recognition without promotional work – you could advance your cause without as much time and money. If the focus is on creating a brand that pulls on your audiences’ emotions, inspires them to act and, as a result, makes a positive change in the world, it’s a worthy endeavor. In this post, we’ll talk through how you can make your nonprofit brand speak for itself.

Stanford Social Innovation Review

How to build your nonprofit brand

1. Know your objectives

You can be the smartest and most clever branding guru out there, but all the work in the world won’t get you very far if you haven’t honed in on what your nonprofit stands for. A brand is an identity, so when it comes to your nonprofit, your cause is what makes you uniquely you.

This being said, once you determine that, you have to stick to it. If you’re claiming you bring clean water to people in developing countries, you should show that through all your branding and messaging efforts. This might also mean you don’t post images or messages that go off topic – as in a photo of your nonprofit helping at a local food drive.

When your nonprofit is clear about its passion, others can see that and put their passion towards your cause. If your mission is muddled, it’s more likely they won’t identify their commonalities with you.

It helps to write it out. Take time revisiting your mission statement to ensure it’s concise and still represents the actual work your nonprofit does. This post from Nonprofit Hub walks through strong and weak mission statements, what best practices to keep in mind and how to evaluate your own.

2. Master your audience

At the core, your audience is the people who care about your cause. But in reality, your audience is full of various types of people who play multiple roles.

Break down your audience into types – donors, volunteers, Board of Directors, the community, people who need your services. Then study what would bring them to your nonprofit, how they would like to be communicated with, what they want to see and most importantly, how they feel about it all.

Your brand is made up of your nonprofit and your audience’s reaction to it; more specifically, it’s your cause and how your audience feels about how well you’re serving it. If you understand their feelings, your brand can speak directly to those.

Study your audience with our free audience persona ebook »

3. Have a mascot

Ideally, your nonprofit has a CEO or spokesperson who’s charismatic and respected. People love putting a face to a name. They don’t relate to just words on a page.

If possible, sign your email newsletters and messages from this person. Have them write for your nonprofit blog or at least contribute a quote here and there. Include images and video of them partaking in your nonprofit’s work.

nonprofit-brand-spokespersonBill & Melinda Gates

If you don’t have this one leader – not all of us can have Bill Gates – use your people. Your nonprofit has real workers with stories for as to why they care about your cause.

Either way, when your audience sees someone fighting for the rights of others, they may feel the desire to help and fight, too.

4. Highlight your supporters

Similar to needing a “mascot,” your brand needs to show it has fans. If you can highlight people who support your nonprofit, it’s more likely people will be able to identify with you and see themselves as potential supporters and advocates of your cause.

This shows your audience you’re not just talking about your cause. You’re in the community, getting people organized and making an impact beyond your four walls.

Susan G. Komen, Orange County

5. Show your brand consistently

Peter Frumkin at NPQ says one of the best things you can do for your nonprofit brand is to,

“invest serious time and money in a website and collateral materials that truly communicate what you want people to understand your organization does, why it is different from other organizations in the field, and why people should care about the impact you are pursuing.”

Take Amnesty International for instance. They use their black and yellow colors and bold, capitalized font across each of their branded materials. Sure they have a bigger budget than many nonprofits, but it doesn’t take a lot of money to be consistent. In highlighting their brand, every time people see the combo of black and yellow and this font, they think human rights and standing up for others. By putting their brand across these causes, people feel an emotional pull, and hopefully a call to get involved.

Amnesty International USA Homepage


Amnesty International Instagram


Your challenge:

Instead of putting all your focus on adding more content and features to your site, posting more on social media and getting your name out there more frequently, take a step back. Reassess how consistent your brand is, how much you pull on it for inspiration and whether or not your audience has an emotional feeling from it. If you can bring it all back to a strong brand, the brand will start to do the work for you.

Top ways to reach new volunteers & donors so far this year

You post on social media, send out newsletters and even sometimes write a blog, but times are changing and you’ve noticed these tactics just aren’t doing what they used to. That’s why Digital Marketing Philippines did a whole lot of research to help us all uncover what is working these days.

Though B2B marketing contrasts with nonprofit marketing, there are a few of these trends that are relevant to nonprofits. Take a look at the infographic and grab some ideas to try out.


Considering a new nonprofit brand? Start here.


Rebranding is difficult – remember New Coke or The Hut? It’s unlikely that you do: those brands failed miserably. If you don’t roll out your rebranding campaign with a thoughtful plan, your initiatives will most likely fall flat or worse yet, damage your image and undo the positive work you’ve done.

Before diving into a rebranding campaign, it’s important first to understand why you feel your organization needs a rebrand and what you’re hoping to achieve through rebranding. Rebranding is more than a name change or a new logo on your organization’s stationery. Rebranding involves your core messaging, your culture, your attitude and your approach.

There are several reasons to rebrand.

Some of the most compelling include:

  • You’re trying to broaden or reach new audiences.
  • You’ve changed your focus.
  • You are offering new services or products.
  • Your brand is dated and hasn’t evolved as much as your audience has.

Names, logos, messages and cultures are very subjective. What appeals to one person might be a total turn off for the next. For this reason, it’s critical to base your decisions on data.

So, how do you began a rebranding campaign?

1. A good place to start is by talking to key stakeholders.

This might include staff, Board members and volunteers. You should aim to take their overall temperature and find out whether they’re on board. If they don’t agree with the idea of rebranding, find out why. If they agree that it’s necessary, ask them to elaborate.

2. Next, assemble key stakeholders for a branding workshop.

By enlisting the help of staff and Board, you not only get to leverage their insights, but you also reduce the stress of uncertainty that they’ll buy-in later on.

The goal of the branding workshop is to identify the core identity of the organization and uncover any brand equity that may be potentially be lost.

Once you’re done, be sure to review all of feedback and synthesize results to narrow the options.

3. Now you can coordinate a survey with the short list of options.

Please note, this list should be short – 3-5 options. Limiting the list ensures that people taking your survey won’t encounter decision fatigue.

4. Finally, you can make the final decision.

This is tough to do as a committee. Ultimately, one person or a very small group will need to have the final say. That’s why hearing from stakeholders along the way is so critical.

The keys to a successful rebranding campaign are collaboration and allowing time to reflect. Through collaboration ideas will iterate and with time, insights and will burble up and come into sharp focus.

Learnings from #TrendingNorth – January Event by Ad Fed MN

Last night, my coworker Annie (business developer at ArcStone) and I attended the #TrendingNorth event hosted at The Social Lights, sponsored by Ad Fed MN. In a nut shell, we received a fresh zest of social media inspiration that might help your nonprofit as well.

A common tendency of many of us is to log in to our social media accounts, post a few times in hopes our organization will sound awesome, check our follower count and then log out to pursue our lengthy to-do list.

Sadly, even if you take those 15 minutes each day, when you report on these efforts to your Board, you realize your time hasn’t made much of an impact. Your nonprofit’s voice was lost amongst the rest.

Seeing as there were hundreds of people in attendance the #TrendingNorth event last night, I think we can assume you’re not alone in this problem. We were hungry for some social media “umph” – not to mention literally hungry for burgers… shout out to My Burger.

And that’s just what we got – the room collectively rekindled our excitement for social media. With Peter Heidorn of Fair State Brewing Coop facilitating, we listened to six experienced and enthusiastic panelist. The audience was able to pick their brains on all things social media.

The major theme across all their answers was not in time-saving tools or growth hacks – which is what most social media content covers these days. Instead they all honed in on what inspires them and what our strategy should revolve around: authenticity. Read my favorite thoughts of the night from each panelist below…

1. Drew Gneiser, Social Media Strategist at The Social Lights put his advice like this: You don’t need to reach everyone. You need to reach the right people. Think about what they need, and help them out.

*This is a big one for nonprofits especially. Hone in on your audience, and reach out to them specifically rather than trying to reach everyone. Tell them meaningful stories about your nonprofit rather than asking for their money.

2. Spencer Barrett, Founder of Great Lakes Collection, really emphasized authenticity. He explained that as long as you do something you love and stay authentic in your social media strategy, it’ll come through to potential customers and they will want to be a part of it.

*This should be easier for nonprofits – you’re not trying to sell a product, you just have to show your love for your cause and illustrate to your audience why they should take part in it too.

3. “Stay human!” That was Katrina Wollet, Communication Strategist at General Mills, biggest assertion. She pointed out it’s not about getting more likes, but instead, you should focus on engaging.

*If your nonprofit’s goal is increasing your Facebook followers, maybe revisit it and focus on increasing the comments on your posts and the number of real conversations your team has over social. As much as you can show your organization’s people and write from a more personal place.

4. “If you haven’t found your community yet, build it.” Annie D’Souza, Founder of The Midwestival, reminded me that that’s really what social media is about – finding community.

*If your nonprofit is struggling to find an online following/community, you can build it yourself. Follow people and organizations that inspire you, reach out to people individually, and your community will start to grow.

5. Laura Rae Founder of Laura Rae Photography warned that people will know if you posted something just for the sake of posting it. Potential supporters will see when you’re merely trying to keep up with what’s trending rather than bringing your own thoughts to the table. Laura advised us to find a purpose. She brought it back to how everything stems from the simple question, “who are you?” and to use your answer to guide how you interact online.

6. “The more you are yourself, the more you are exactly where you need to be.” This was my favorite quote of the night, which came from Joseph Harris Co-Founder of Bodega Ltd. It goes beyond best practices for social media, however it resonated with me as I thought of how much of a struggle it can be to establish a voice and brand on social channels.

*If you simplify it down to remembering what your organization does and what you represent, your voice will eventually establish itself.

Image uploaded from iOS (2)
Another shoutout – The Great Lakes & their amazingly warm hats. Find yours!

Annie & I hope to see you at the next event! If you want to stay in the loop, check out our post on upcoming events in 2017.

For more help with social media take a look at these posts »

Nonprofits get ready for 2017 – December Nonprofit Marketing News

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been an interesting year. As December winds down, we here at ArcStone and The Nerdy Nonprofit are trying to focus on our accomplishments of the past year.

Below are a few of the nonprofit websites we launched for our partners in 2016 and here is a post on some of our other favorite nonprofit websites.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities


Minnesota Corn Grower’s Association

Kids in Need Foundation

Enough about us, check out some of the top industry posts below and start 2017 off right!

– The Nerdy Nonprofit – December 2016 – 

#1. Nonprofit communications budgets: How big should yours be? 

Having a budget can be both liberating and restricting. Knowing how much to budget in the first place is a whole ‘nother story. Here is some data and insights from the Nonprofit Communications report. Check out Kivi Leroux Miller’s post on the topic here.

#2 A year in review for marketing, design & tech. Our top blog posts of 2016.

From comparing top email marketing software (Mailchimp vs. Emma vs. Constant Contact) to the 5 things we learned redesigning 5 nonprofit websites, we’ve got our top 10 posts in one place.

#3. 6 Book recommendations for nonprofit communicators

My personal favorite on the list provided by Nonprofit MarCommunity is Quiet by Susan Cain. Must read for any ‘introvert’.

#4 Is SEO dead? The state of SEO in 2017

SEO is still important – but not in the same way it used to be. Our head of marketing, Lisa, breaks down 20 years of personal experience with search engine optimization, leaving us with a clear picture of SEO today. A must read for any marketer.

#5 $10,000 in free marketing a month? Google AdWords Grant for nonprofits

I have the AdWords grant conversation with several nonprofits each week. Most are either frustrated, aren’t seeing the value of the grant, or have never applied. Before you give up, please give the grant another chance! Read this post and set a goal to improve your campaigns in 2017.

Need help strategizing for 2017? Contact our team today to discuss a few ideas.
Jenna & Chloe

Our favorite nonprofit websites of 2017

Although you don’t have the most money or the biggest team, nonprofits do have a leg up when it comes to grabbing attention and pulling heartstrings. They have more potential for the most compelling Unique Value Propositions, calls to action, video content and the like. If you can somehow come up with the budget for a new site come 2017, here are a few nonprofit web design trends after which you can model your own site. For more inspiration, visit the nonprofit web design page on Webdesign Inspiration.

Save the Rainforest


Why does this nonprofit site stand out:

One website characteristic we talk about for grabbing the attention of your users is your Unique Value Proposition – read about it in “Think Personal Value” for more pointers on this. This Save the Rainforest campaign incorporates the tactic we mentioned in our post: start by showing the audience what personal value your nonprofit has to them and why your nonprofit needs them.

*Takeaway: Focus on your UVP statement and let it guide the rest of your site. 

CTA’s & forms:

If you click on “become a protector” in the top right of the screen, the form keeps you on that page. Many users don’t like getting taken to another screen, especially if the screen doesn’t match the branding of your current page. For Save the Rainforest, this transition was seamless.

*Takeaway: Focus on your form as a primary goal of the site and keep the transition to it as smooth as possible. 

Additional perks of the design:

Besides the intriguing intro video with inspirational music and clear CTA’s, this site has an interactive feature. You can click on a part of the map and see the real people affected by this cause. The interaction brings you into their world, as if you can actually meet the people you’re helping.


*Takeaway: If you are just starting out on the process of RFP, see if there’s an agency that will help develop an interactive feature. Keep in mind, people pay attention to these microinteractions and interesting interfaces more than they ever did before. 

Something we dislike about the UX:

It was a challenge to get back to the home video and some of the VR usability got a little confusing.

*Takeaway: If you do invest in a fun feature like this, test it thoroughly and even have your current volunteers and donors test it to find areas that aren’t translating well. 

Sharing America’s Marrow


Why does this nonprofit site stand out:

This site has a clear audience and a beautiful simplicity to it through and through. The designers stuck to their branding in each aspect, making the journey from getting interested to getting involved a pleasant one.

*Key takeaways: Invest in a strong team as this site will last longer than many others.

CTA’s & forms:

2 of their 4 site navigation items are about getting involved somehow. It’s easy to get there. nonprofit-website-design-ideas

*Key takeaways: Speak to your user, knowing that not all of them can donate financially. Give them possibilities and highlight all of those. 

Additional perks of the design:

Rather than attempting to speak to every audience at once, it’s clear that this site has a target audience and sticks to telling their story and speaking to them.


*Key Takeaways: At the start of your design, have your entire team go through an audience persona exercise – like ours here. Understand this target market before diving into anything else. 

Something we dislike about the UX:

The get involved form takes you to a separate page. It feels disjointed and is surprising since the rest of the site is so smooth.

*Key takeaway: If you have to use a separate form page, see if you can explain this transition to your audience before it happens. 

Time to Choose


Why does this nonprofit site stand out:

This site had amazing footage with which to work. It capitalizes on drone video – a growing trend and one that is attainable for nonprofits. Right below this, it tells you precisely where you can get involved and how that helps their cause.

*Key takeaway: If you invest in quality content like a powerful video, you don’t have to say a lot. You simply have to tell your audience where to go, now that you’ve got them hooked. 

CTA’s & forms:

Each CTA on the homepage pulls you to another convincing and informative video.

*Key takeaway: When you call your users to take action, make sure you explain how that specific action affects the cause. 

Additional perks of the design:

The explanation videos under each separate call to action are not that complicated, but they’ve done a great job of optimizing them. They only play when they’re in the users’ main screen and they mute once you scroll away. They have a concise statement below them to further engage the audience.


*Key takeaway: If you got content, optimize it appropriately. 

Something we dislike about the UX:

There are so many calls to action, which can be a good attribute, but they all take you to separate pages. If these could be the same stylistically, they might get more conversions.

*Key takeaway: Simplify your forms and stay consistent.


Of course, our very favorites are the ones our team at ArcStone launched this year! Take a look:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities


Minnesota Corn Grower’s Association

Kids in Need Foundation

If you’re ready for a web design project, contact our digital strategists & designers at ArcStone. They’ve designed over 10 nonprofit websites, learning a lot in the process. Yours could be next!

Why voter turnout matters to your nonprofit

Image source: Pixabay

Seth Godin wrote a concise and powerful post on the importance of voting – not just for the general well-being of our democracy, but moreover, what it means to the nonprofit realm when people don’t vote.

If we reason that we won’t vote because neither of the candidates are good enough, nothing changes.

This same line of thinking could be applied to nonprofits: none of them are flawless enough so I’m not donating or volunteering. Where would we be if that’s the way we went about our every choice and every change?

I posted more snippets from Seth’s blog below, but be sure to read the full post »

“The easiest way to win an election is to get the people who might vote for your opponent to not vote.”

“The thing is, there has never been a perfect leader. There has never been a flawless president. There are always weaknesses, foibles and scandals.”

“Same thing for the charities we donate to (or don’t), the heroes and mentors we revere, the organizations we’re proud to be a part of.”

“Vote as if you’re responsible, because you are, especially if you don’t vote.”

When writing a nonprofit Unique Value Proposition, think personal value

unique-value-propositions-for-nonprofitsWe all have good intentions when crafting our nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition, however we often put the focus on us. We get so caught up in defining what our nonprofit is seeking to do (what should be written in our Mission Statement), we forget about communicating why that should matter to our audience.

I came across an enlightening SumoMe article the other day – 26 Value Proposition Examples That Convert Visitors – which illustrated a few points that could be really helpful for nonprofits specifically.

In the end, people are looking to be a part of a nonprofit that fits their needs. This could be their needs as they aim to find help for a loved one or themselves, to do good in the world, or to give back; whatever the reason, it comes back to the user. In this way, your nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition can’t just be about what you do, but should also include how you help your audience member specifically.

Strong Unique Value Propositions & how your nonprofit can write one.

1. About Us vs. About You

SumoMe found some striking examples to help illustrate this point. Which homepage are you more attracted to when seeking a vacation spot?



Image source: SumoMe

The latter one focuses on who the company is talking to, not just what their business does. It doesn’t neglect to talk about what service they provide, but it does an excellent job of drawing the reader in as the focus of the service.

*Key point: Review your UVP

Your nonprofit can follow suit by ensuring you answer your audience’s questions and convey your value right off the bat. You can also study this by surveying your audience. Interview previous donors, volunteers and other site users and ask them to tell you what value you communicate. Ask them how long it took them to find it. If these responses aren’t what you want them to be, revisit your site’s language and layout.

2. Placing the User Into an Active Role

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities worked with ArcStone to launch their site fall 2016. A major challenge to most all nonprofits is their multiple audiences. How do you speak to each of them in your UVP? Big Brothers Big Sisters broke down each of their audiences into their own UVP. An audience member can find which purpose they want to serve and see how they can do it. It’s simple, yet it manages to speak to each user and encourage them to act.


*Key Point: Study each audience member and their specific CTA

It may take some time up, but mapping out each of your audience members and defining how they each are involved with your nonprofit can inform your design. Put yourself in their shoes and then use imagery, wording and CTA’s that would draw them in.

3. Clear & Concise

SumoMe also points out 10 top UVP examples they came across, such as the WordPress homepage below. This is not the time to tell your entire story or explain the nuances of how your organization works. Save that for the About Us page or you blog posts.

WordPress worked with their heading, subheading and call to action to point to exactly what they are offering their audience, quickly. Moreover, they know their audience is made up of both individuals and businesspeople as they address in their subheading. They also include “free” in their heading to emphasize the low risk / commitment – perfect for a busy individual who’s seeking a simple and affordable answer to promote their work.


Image source: SumoMe

*Key point: Get to the punchline quickly

Include language that immediately points to the heart of your organization. Think about what your audience needs to know and state it in as few words as is appropriate. Once you identify your audience’s concerns, be clear about how you are addressing them. Do they want an easy and safe way to donate? State that in your call to action. Are they concerned about how effective they will be in helping your cause? Give them confidence by stating how much volunteers have helped.

Read the full SumoMe article to walk through exercises that help you craft your nonprofit’s Unique Value Propositon.

Interested in redesigning your site? Learn more about ArcStone’s design work with nonprofits.

Can your nonprofit content marketing empower people (and earn them as supporters)?


Nonprofit content marketing often revolves around “the ask.” Generally speaking, a nonprofit marketing campaign’s ultimate goal is to drive funds, volunteers and support for their cause. Hence, most digital content leads towards a plea for help.

What if, instead, your nonprofit refocused some of your content production goals; at creating content that empowers your audience. Rather than asking, “how can we best ask them to donate, volunteer and support us?” some content could ask, “how can we empower our readers, and in effect, motivate them to take part in our cause?”

Marketing case in point: Uber

Surprisingly, Uber can help illustrate this content marketing style. In their recent campaign in India, they tell a story about their users. Instead of having this story revolve around exactly how Uber works and how great the company is, it revolves around two people’s lives and brings Uber in at the end.

Shankar is an Uber driver, but we don’t find that out right away. Instead we see a dad successfully driving his young daughter to school on time, despite rush hour traffic. We see his worry as he wants to help his daughter out so she can get to her test on time. We also see how anxious see is to make it on time and how relieved she is when her dad succeeds. Once Shankar finishes his task – and after a sweet goodbye with his cute daughter, of course – he pulls out his phone and begins his day as an Uber driver.

Ultimately, the audience witnessed how Uber empowered Shankar to be both a good dad and an entrepreneur. Similarly we saw how Uber empowered the daughter to get to school on time as well as have a dad who has the flexibility to drive her to school.

A post on The Drum points out,

“For users, it explored the concept of having the freedom of mobility in an affordable way and for the drivers, it shows how it can turn them into micro-entrepreneurs.”

Nonprofit content marketing’s turn:

How can you sell your audience in the same way this video – with 1.2 million views – did?

1. What does your nonprofit do in just a few words?

For example, Uber offers “the freedom of mobility” for riders and enables drivers “to improve their livelihoods.” In a nut shell, they move users forward. Hence “Move Forward” is the name of the campaign.

Your nonprofit may change lives, feed the neglected, fuel the earth. Keep it simple, and use that simplicity to impact people.

2. What does your nonprofit audience look like? What are their day-to-day needs that your nonprofit can help meet?

The rider (the daughter) needs to get from place to place in an efficient manner. The driver (Shankar) needs a job with flexible hours and an employer he can trust.

Your nonprofit can easily sell how they help those in need, but how do you also help your donors, volunteers and contributors? You may make them feel good, you may keep them involved in the greater world, you may help their friend. Study your audience and hone in on their needs, not just your nonprofit’s.

3. What scenario could you portray that catches your audience in a moment of need? What are they feeling in that moment and why?

The daughter is feeling anxious as she needs to get to school. Shankar is feeling nervous as he wants to get her there on time and be a good father. Then, as Uber works well for them, the daughter feels relieved as she gets to school and Shankar can be proud of his job.

Your audience may be feeling guilty they haven’t given back enough. Or they’re looking for help for their neighborhood and need an organization to help move their cause forward. Develop content that helps answer those moments. Read more in “Where the micro-moment meets the nonprofit.”

Watch the video below & be sure to reach out to ArcStone if you’d like to get a video rolling.