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Nonprofit Communications Commandment #7: Have a content calendar

You’ve heard over and over that you should post consistently to your social media sites and your blog, and to send out an email newsletter. Too many times we have good intentions but writing new content can come second to mission-critical operational tasks at your nonprofit.

It’s important, though, to make regular online communications a priority.

I’ve said this before: Even if you’re the communications director for your nonprofit, you may not be able to produce all the necessary content alone. You don’t have to. Enlist in a group to help you divide and conquer the responsibilities. Many hands make light work.

Consider who can help you with this task. Do you have a board member who writes well and would be willing to lend a hand with blogging a couple times a month? Is there an intern available? Would your program director be willing to write a column for your email newsletter once a quarter? Brainstorm which duties you could farm out to others and how often you’d like to have their help. Then ask them for help and establish clear expectations (read: deadlines) up front.

Once you have a team in place, posting to your website and various social media platforms, how do you keep it all straight? The answer: a content calendar.

This magical document will help everyone on your team know what needs to go where and when it needs to go there.

Here are my recommendations:

Sit down at the beginning of each month and plan out the coming month communications-wise. Maybe you have a Google doc spreadsheet that’s easy for your team to access in real time. Do what works for you to spell out the days and dates of the month, and each social media platform, website/blog and email newsletter, etc. Then start to fill in your subject matter. What special events need to be promoted and when? Is there information that needs to be posted to your organization’s blog but not added to social media? You get the idea. Fill it in in a way that works for you and your team. As information is shared in real time or scheduled, you can mark it as finished.

Then, throughout the month, no matter who is working on your communications, they can see what needs to be done. It’s a simple and effective tool. Even if you’re a team of one, this document can save you from having multiple sticky notes, a physical list or all the ideas in your head.

A content calendar is a great way to remember what you’re supposed to do, who is helping with what and when it’s all due is with a content calendar. Keep updating it as necessary. Print a copy out and post near your desk for easy access. Or, put the information in a Google doc and share with everyone involved. As it gets updated, be sure all the members of your team have the most updated version.

Is your team using a content calendar effectively already? What are your most promising practices? I’d love to hear.

Tell me how it works for you.


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