Confirmed by Nonprofit Quarterly: Generating online content is NOT optional

Just when you thought your nonprofit’s résumé was updated and accurate, it is time to add another job responsibility: publisher.

As recently reported by Joe Waters with Nonprofit Quarterly, “Nonprofit employees have always had to wear a lot of hats: fundraiser, marketer, grant writer, etc. Here’s one more you need to get used to wearing: publisher. Fortunately, this additional job has a real benefit, as it engages current and potential supporters with useful, interesting and credible information that directly drives donor support.”

The key to generating and publishing online content is to be timely, stay relevant, and to “inform, educate and inspire.” Unlike an advertisement, online content allows followers to interact with the information, contribute and hear/see/participate in the organization’s story.

While many of our followers have already identified and addressed the publishing aspect of their nonprofit work, Nonprofit Quarterly offers three reasons why generating and publishing online content is no longer an option for small nonprofit organizations.

1) “It’s part of being a top nonprofit brand”

Build community around your brand and cause by publishing engaging, inspiring, visually compelling and relevant content (and just to clarify, that is NOT your monthly newsletter).

2) “You need to stand out”

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. We are all on Facebook, we all have Twitter accounts for our organizations, many organizations maintain blogs—it’s time to step up your online content, videos, podcasts, links, downloadable and free content, etc. Simply having an online presence is no longer enough. Though we prefer to think we are not competing with other nonprofit organizations, the truth of the matter is, we are.

“With more and more nonprofits coming online each year, content is a key tool in separating your nonprofit from the pack. This is especially important as people search for your nonprofit on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Several factors are important in how search engines rank and deliver search results, but one thing is clear: if you don’t produce high quality content and links, online searchers won’t find you. Period.”

3) “You can’t just do good work anymore”

Nonprofit to nonprofit, many of us share similar, philanthropic visions for our organizations. Because of this, the general public has its pick of relevant, benevolent, and noble organizations to support and fund. So now that you can’t claim your work is MORE important or MORE charitable than the next nonprofit’s, how do you get that donor’s attention and dollar? Answer: tell your story in a compelling way, manipulating the resources the web provides. Facebook photo albums, Twitter contests, IncenTix by ShowClix, Pinterest, podcasts, infographics – these and the resources we feature here on Technology in the Arts can help you do just that.

Am I suggesting all nonprofits abandon the newsletter and print medium in this competitive, nonprofit landscape? Of course not. YouTube channels and 140-character-Twitter-contests are wasted on my parents. They look for the newsletter in the mail every month (but continue to impress me when they sign up to receive them by e-mail…way to go, Mom and Dad, makin' me proud).

Publishing online has become increasingly dynamic, visual, and allows for a voice in 3-D; a voice that speaks louder, in more colors, and more emotionally than the traditional newsletter printed and mailed for years and years. Storytelling has moved online with a worldwide audience waiting to feel emotionally compelled, connected, and stimulated by the content your organization generates and publishes.