5 common content marketing mistakes nonprofits should avoid

Content Marketing 101: 5 Common Mistakes

Are you making these 5 common content marketing mistakes?

By Katrina Williams, BDI Senior Marketing Manager

Content marketing can be a powerful tool. From blogs that increase website traffic, to social media strategies that attract followers, a strong content marketing strategy can not only boost brand awareness, increase website traffic and attract followers… but it will help connect people in need with your services and will strengthen your relationships with your donors and volunteers. 

It is a pillar of marketing that is not going away any time soon. In fact, a survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that 92% of marketers say their company views content as an important business asset.

But with tight budgets, small teams and busy schedules, it’s common for organizations to sideline their content marketing strategy that in actuality is hurting their results. 

That’s why I want to share 5 common mistakes made in content marketing and how fixing these mistakes will help optimize your efforts and boost your results today

Mistake #1: Making limited or new content for each platform

In today’s highly digital age, the odds are that your nonprofit has a multi-channel content marketing strategy. These could include research studies, webinars, blog posts, social media, newsletters, direct mail and more! 

As content marketers, we are constantly asking ourselves, what would the audience on (insert platform here) find interesting, applicable and engaging? Although it’s important to adjust your content for your unique audiences on each platform, it’s a big mistake to make one-and-done content… instead, try C.O.P.E. 





For example, let’s say a nonprofit published some of their annual results in the form of a report to share with their donors. Highlights from this report could be extracted and turned into case studies, social media posts, a podcast interview, a blog post and even a highlight video with real footage of your organization. 

To get started with C.O.P.E., ask yourself…

What highlights can be repurposed as content on other channels?

How long can we share about this with our audience/does this content have an expiration date?

What would our audience on each marketing channel most want to know about this topic?

By creating adaptable content that can be repurposed across different platforms, your nonprofit will reach a wider audience and maximize your time and marketing efforts.  

Mistake #2: Being afraid to show too much personality in your content

Oftentimes, nonprofit marketers shy away from showing their personality in their content marketing – especially those with a more serious or even dire cause. However, people (especially those in the Millennial and Gen Z generations) want to support relatable, transparent organizations that they have an emotional connection to. This connection is made on the human level – by showing the personality behind your organization.

No matter your cause, there is a time, a place and a platform for your organization’s personality to shine. For most nonprofits, this platform is social media. This can be a place to show your volunteer events, celebrity visits, team activities and most of all – the real life change that is happening at your organization. 

So how do you find the balance between professional and personal content on your social channels? Stay true to your brand, and don’t be afraid to test new content (within reason). 

Here are some questions to help with this process: 

  1. What types of posts have the highest engagement and audience reach on each platform? 
  2. What about these posts are attracting your audience? 
  3. Are there elements of your brand mission and personality coming through on these posts?
  4. What are some similar post and/or caption ideas that you can test to engage your audience even more?

Mistake #3: Not paying attention to user-generated content

There is so much power in user-generated content. When supporters create content about your cause, it not only showcases their dedication, it increases awareness of your organization to their networks. It can lead to more engagement, a stronger online community and ultimately create a team of advocates for your cause. 

But as busy marketers, it can be difficult to keep up with where people are interacting with your brand… and even more difficult to know how to use this type of content! Here are tips to help:

  • Link your social media accounts to a Social Media Marketing tool. This will provide a dashboard of audience engagement across all channels so you can easily see when your organization is tagged, mentioned, hashtagged or when your content is shared. 
  • Create opportunities for your advocates to share your content. Try this by launching online giveaways, personal challenges or even hashtag campaigns tied to your cause! 
  • Feature user-generated content to show appreciation for your supporters. Highlight your supporters on your stories, give them a shoutout in your newsletter or even send them a free gift for helping further your cause. This will deepen the bond between your organization and your supporters, plus, it’s free shareable content!

Mistake #4: Not testing or reviewing the analytics of your content

Sometimes the biggest downfall of a successful marketer is thinking that your gut is always right. Sure, it’s important to have a strong sense of what will perform well with your audience and in your market – but that’s not everything. 

Without looking at the data behind your content, there’s no true way to know what is or isn’t working. Let analytics be your content roadmap for what should be repurposed, repeated or re-thought. 

This knowledge gives you the power to create even stronger content and test different strategies with your audience. There’s nothing like the feeling of testing a new content strategy and seeing your results increase! 

For specific strategies on how to test and optimize your digital campaigns, check out this recent article by BDI’s VP Digital Strategy, Stephanie Tippitt. 

Mistake #5: Not Optimizing for Mobile

According to a recent 2023 study, on average, Americans check their phones 262 times every day! Odds are, a large portion of your supporters are engaging with your content from their mobile devices. 

For the BDI website, total website visits from mobile devices continues to increase every quarter – and was up by +70% YOY in the first quarter of 2023. Even though it’s an extra step to optimize your content for mobile, it’s an essential part of content marketing today. Without it, you are potentially losing a large portion of your audience. 

To help you get started with mobile optimization, BDI is giving away this FREE GUIDE on 10 Ways to Optimize Your Donation Page. Just tell us your email and we’ll send it straight to your inbox! Download Now.

The world of content marketing is always changing, but by implementing some of the tried-and-true strategies above, you can avoid common mistakes that marketing professionals make. 

The result? More eyes on your content… and potentially more people inspired to support your cause. If you have questions about content marketing or other ways BDI supports nonprofits in their digital marketing efforts, I’d love to share more! Contact us today

  • Katrina Williams

    Katrina Williams, Senior Marketing Manager

    After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree at Azusa Pacific University in 2018, Katrina set out to find an agency that would not only grow her skills in writing and marketing but would serve a greater purpose to help others. It wasn’t long until she found BDI and started her professional career at the agency.

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