10 Tried-and-True Content Formats for Nonprofits

Tired of sharing “updates” all the time? Your readers probably are too.

But simply changing the format is a great way to repeat your core messages while making the content feel more fresh and interesting.

Let’s look at some favorite formats for nonprofit content.

1. How-to Articles

In an easy-to-follow format, provide your readers with clear directions on how to do something related to the issues you work on. Is there something your readers could do on their own to advance your mission? Do people call your office asking how to do certain tasks?

2. Advice Columns

It’s your basic advice column, but with your own twist. If people call your office for advice, use some of those questions in your content. Encourage readers to send in their own questions. You might try rotating the person who answers the letters among experts in your organization or field. You can also write humorous, fictional questions with subtle true-life lessons in the answers.

3. Frequently Asked Questions

Pick a topic and write down five to seven of the most common questions you hear about it. Then provide your answers. This is a great way to share information about your programs and to answer common questions about your organization as a whole.

4. First-Person Anecdotes

Hearing about an experience directly from the person who lived it is usually more interesting and believable than someone else talking about it. Ask someone with a good story to share to write an article or essay in the first person (i.e., using the words I, me, and my).

5. Reviews or Recommendations

Share your thoughts, both positive and negative, on the books, websites, news reports, places, and events your readers are likely to be interested in.

6. Wish Lists

Few nonprofits can afford everything they need to accomplish their missions. What does your organization need? Or what can friends donate to you, so that you don’t have to spend limited resources buying it yourself? Wish list items can include everything from inexpensive office supplies, to computer equipment, to large cash donations for specific purchases you’ll need to make in the near future. Or get more creative and make your wish list changes you’d like to see in legislation or around your community.

7. Fact versus Fiction

What are the common misperceptions in your field? Are there any tales you’d wish would die forever? Lay out the fiction and the facts for your readers.

8. Trends

Put events, statistics, and other information in context for your readers by reporting on trends in a specific segment of your field. What patterns do you see developing? What issues are people talking about now more than before?

9. Success Stories

Let your readers share in your successes and in the successes of others in your field. Write about a recent accomplishment and how their help made it happen. Or pick a topic and write about several organizations or people making progress in that area. Highlighting a successful endeavor is also a good way to enliven an otherwise boring case study.

10. Lists

People love lists. They are easy to read and understand. Your lists can be made up of just about anything and can be used to provide advice, offer checklists, or simply entertain.

Kivi Leroux Miller is the founder and CEO of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, where she helps nonprofit communications professionals learn their jobs and love their jobs through a variety of training and coaching programs. She is also the award-winning author of three books, as well as a popular blog, and a popular keynote presenter, speaking dozens of times each year. She is also the co-founder of Bold & Bright Media.

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