Ways Nonprofits Can Use Volunteers For Content Creation
Creating content is time consuming, we won’t lie about that. However, it makes a huge impact on your organization from getting new donors to donor retention to brand awareness.
If your staff is smaller or you don’t have a dedicated marketing team then this is something that often gets put on the back burner. Since you aren’t a marketing yourself, you may not feel comfortable leveraging volunteers to help you.
There are a few key ways you can leverage volunteers to help you with things from writing blog posts, taking photos, creating social media posts, etc. To be effective, here are a few tips.
Do your research and set your strategy
It helps to know what your goals are for your content. Putting a little bit of time on the front end will allow you to be more specific with your volunteers. That means you’ll get better quality work and minimize the back and forth.
If you don’t have anyone to help you create the strategy, find a consultant that can come in, short term, to help you build it out. Creating content for the sake of content doesn’t help and just wastes time. It is well worth the investment of time and/or money to ensure you’re efforts support your goals.
Set realistic timelines
It’s always good to plan ahead with your content strategy. Having a content calendar that lines up your topics with your big rocks like events, registration periods, donor campaigns, etc will be helpful. That will all come with your strategy.
The quickest way to burn out your volunteers is to ask for things right away. You know they’re busy and have their own work and obligations. By giving them ample time to create the content will ensure you get higher quality work. It also increases the likelihood they’ll keep supporting you in this role.
A realistic timeline can vary. Start by asking them what their situation is. It will probably mean having a variety of timelines based off of the individual volunteers. Because you’re working off of their schedule, the sooner you can identify what that is the easier you can manage the project.
Set clear expectations
The worst thing you can do is reach out to vlunteers and say, “hey, can you help us create content.” That is vague and doesn’t really convey what the acutal requirement would be in both time and skill. In fact, one piece of final content might go through multip volunteers before its even published. You might have writers, video editors, photographers, etc.
When you reach out to volunteers be clear with what you need. For example:
- Would you be available to take photos at our event? Here is the shot list of what we’re looking for.
- Could you write 1-2 blog posts for us a month? They would need to be about 750 words and we’ll provide the topics for you.
- We have a lot of video footage. Would you be able to create 2-3 30-60 second vidoes for us?
Knowing what you need and where you’ll use it will help you make a specific ask.
Once this all gets started you’ll want to keep things organized. You’ll likely have different parts of the project coming in at different times. You’ll also want to make it easy for people to submit their stuff. Google Workspace is free for nonprofits and a great way to set this up.
This will make it easy for your volunteers to submit their materials and help you easily access when they’re ready to publish.
Identify the volunteers
Sometimes there are people you might not even consider that are great a content creation. You’ll want to ensure they have a skill set you can use so that the quality matches the work you’re doing.
Start by making a short list of the people that immediately come to mind. Reach out and have 1:1 conversations about the project you need their support on. Make sure to ask them who else they might know that would be a good fit.
After that inital outreach, send out emails to your community to see who engages. You might be surprised! Your audience is looking for more ways to support you, they just may have not been asked in a way that aligns with their skill set and passions. Because you have all the planning and strategies in place you will be able to make a thoughtful ask with clear expectations.
Pro Tip: This is a great opportunity to enlist Gen Z and Millenials as well!!!
Tips for consistency and project management
Undoubtedly, the hardest part of the whole thing is making sure deadlines are met and your content goes out on schedule. Here are a few tips that I recommend.
- Create a spreadsheet with all the information in a Google Sheet or something cloud based that everyone can access. This should have all deadlines and relevant information that is updated in real time.
- Communicate regularly. Create a weekly newsletter for your volunteers in the content space specifically. Send updates, share launches, and reminders. This weekly reminder will keep their individual tasks top of mind.
- Push out deadlines! If you need something on the 15th of the month, make the deadline the 1st. Give yourself a buffer so you aren’t stressed and you can accomodate life.
Volunteers are a great asset for things like content creation. By setting it up appropriately you can make it less stress for you and more successful for the organization.