By Madelyn C. Jones
If every story worth telling is an asset, then there is a good chance you are leaving money on the table by not maximizing that story’s reach.
Single-use content is the disposable plastic water bottle of communications. Sure, it fulfills a need, but what a waste of resources.
Repurposing content means you slice, dice, repackage and distribute your story across multiple channels. It is a step up from revamping content and is sometimes referred to as content recycling.
To repurpose content like an expert marketer, keep this guide handy. You’ll want to refer to this list frequently when strategizing how to get the most out of your message.
Why You Should Repurpose Content
Is it necessary to repurpose content? Won’t people get tired of hearing the same story?
While you may, it is unlikely that a singular external constituent would be reached on every single one of your channels.
Here are a few reasons to consider scattering your content:
The hard work is already done.
The majority of mental effort is in the creation of the original content. However, it takes a fraction of the time to revise and distribute it through additional channels. Your organization’s resources are limited. Make the best use of them. Let one communication do the heavy lifting.
Expand your reach.
When the content is reformatted to suit various platforms, it takes a new shape and reaches a larger audience.
Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers marketing firm, explains, “You don’t have to create content day in and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people.”
To expand on Halpern’s point, putting your content in different places can help you reach constituents at different stages in the pipeline. Knowing where and how each audience prefers to consume content will allow you to tailor each communication in a way that would progress them in their giving journey.
Watch your donor acquisition rates increase when you do this.
Retain Your Donors.
Repetition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds trust. Trust breeds loyalty.
Do you know the Rule of Seven in marketing? (Sure you do because the DRG Group emphasizes the value of thanking a donor seven times before asking for the next gift.) Consumers need to see a message seven times before taking action.
Thanks to our waning attention span, some experts argue that figure is now creeping up to 13 for social media channels. Other professionals cite an 8:1 or even 9:1 ratio of value to ask in the email marketing world.
Though the numbers vary, the overall message is the same: you must stay in communication if you want someone to give again and give more. Recycling your content allows you to increase the volume of your touches and therefore your donor retention rates.
Where to Begin
Sometimes a story falls right in your lap. Sometimes you need to go looking for it.
Either way, the most commonly used strategy for repurposing content begins with one big content piece, called the hub or long-form content. You then break it into smaller, more easily digestible pieces of content, called short-form content. It could be in a video, audio, or written format.
If you are the one developing the primary piece, outlines and bullet points go a long way in setting you up for the subsequent communications. So be sure to write with repurposing in mind.
The list we provide below is not only a list of channels for you to distribute your story. It is also where you may be able to find a story. When looking for an excuse to stay in front of your donors, search for what someone in your organization may already be sharing.
This is a 360 effort. No single person or department owns a story. Look to your allies in other divisions.
This brings me back to the word mentioned above—‘value.’ Somewhere within your organization, you likely have access to something of value to your constituents. I’m not talking about features of giving societies either.
Value could be a story from a beneficiary, but it could also be a helpful infographic from one of your hospital physicians on how to stay healthy during flu season. A white paper from a professor on the economy or a clip of an e-course generated by your Corporate and Professional Education division may interest an entrepreneur.
Perhaps your Marketing and Communications division already has the infrastructure for collecting stories. Consider having a marketing liaison in your division to keep you in the loop.
Partnership is your friend. Maybe you can share some of your ideas as well. If you haven’t already, ask how you can have a seat at the table. Check out 8 Steps to Improving Your Development Storytelling for tips on how to put infrastructure in place.
Maximize your story’s reach by scattering it across some of these communications.
Direct mail solicitation 📝 Copywriter’s Pro Tip: Have the letter come from one of your beneficiaries rather than someone in administration. Remember that people give based on emotion, not logic. So choose someone who has overcome obstacles to tug at those heart strings. We have an innate desire as humans to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Your story and ask give your reader a clear path to becoming a hero by making a gift.
Verbal Conversations with Donors Gift officers are always looking for something to share on calls or visits. If your organization uses Chatter, Slack, or Basecamp, share stories with your division there. Most of these platforms support using topics or hashtags to appropriately categorize messages for easy finding. Ask others in your division to share stories in this location as they come across them, whether from beneficiaries or donors. The goal is to build a library of stories you can quickly pull from.
Email Consider how your content is consumed. Most people open emails on their mobile devices. The less scrolling, the better. Most smartphones display an average of 60 words before scrolling. This valuable real estate is described as “above the fold,” a term leftover from the yesteryears of print newspapers. Remember those? Of course, social media feeds have us in the habit of scrolling. In fact, experts at Neilson Norman Group concluded that readers now spend more time “below the fold” than before. However, with 57% of time being on the first screenful of content and a drop off to 17% after the first scroll, it is still worth keeping your email short and your call-to-action (CTA) as close to the top as possible. Copywriter’s Pro Tip: For subject lines, use a free online subject line tester like OmniSend or SubjectLine. These tools make your subject mobile-friendly, increase your emotional effectiveness and avoid the pitfalls of spam filters. Here are some additional thoughts Lynne previously shared on email solicitations.
Acknowledgment letter This entire website is an incredible resource for writing emotion-provoking acknowledgments. Try keeping it fresh by updating your copy every month or quarter.
Podcast 📝 Yes, this is relevant to fundraisers. While your Advancement division may not have a podcast, other areas of your organization responsible for delivering value may. For instance, Cook Children’s Hospital in Ft. Worth has a podcast called Raising Joy, co-hosted by chief of communications Wini King and co-medical director of pediatric psychiatry, Dr. Kristen Pyrc. After witnessing the toll that COVID-19 has taken on the children in their community, King and Pyrc share how parents and caregivers can encourage hope and resilience in their children and teens. Audio clips, quotes placed on an aesthetically pleasing background, or a hyperlink to a specific podcast episode could be shared with parents who may be interested in supporting such an initiative. Does your organization have anything like this? Have any of your professors, doctors, or other experts appeared as a guest on a podcast? Ask for the transcript. Copywriter’s Pro Tip: Transcripts of any kind (podcast, video, etc.) should be on your organization’s webpage. Break it up with bullet points or outlines to make it readable. While it is unlikely that someone will navigate to it, it is ripe with keywords and, therefore, good SEO juice.
Receipts Keep snack-size versions of fresh stories within your receipt-generating tool. Remember that your donor will pull that receipt out of their file sometime between January and March. So this document will cross their desk a couple of times.
Social media You can generate a month’s worth of Instagram posts or stories based on a single piece of long-form content like a blog or article. Drip the content bit-by-bit over a long period or bundle it together with carousel posts. Carousel posts have the dots underneath to prompt swiping to view multiple images or videos. Consider which platform your desired audience prefers and the shelf-life of a post on each channel. As of 2022, an Instagram story lives for 24 hrs, YouTube for 30 days, and Pinterest for 6-12 months. It is okay to share the same thing across multiple platforms. Just a friendly reminder to make it appropriate for that particular platform. For instance, on Facebook, you don’t want to say, “See link in bio.” For something eye-catching, pull out a couple of key ideas from your long-form content. Using a program like Canva (freemium service), create aesthetically pleasing quotes or infographics using one of their preexisting templates. If you’re starting with audio, take a 15-30 second audio clip of something like a podcast episode. Use a tool like Wavve to turn your audio clip into a video highlight.
Follow-up Thank You Postcard It may be hard to convey an entire story in this format. However, photos, a quote, and a message of “We simply wanted to say thanks” go a long way.
Remarks given by leadership 📝 If something is noteworthy enough to be mentioned by your president at a donor event, it is worth pointing out in another venue.
Board meeting Collect your best stories to create a highlights reel that you can show to your board members.
Organization journal or magazine publication 📝 First-hand copywriter experience: I once asked an alumnus to share his story so that we could use it for an email solicitation. He wrote a book. It was beautiful. But it was not an email solicitation. We pulled out pieces here and there for the solicitation and then suggested that we put the letter in its entirety in the university publication.
Blog post or Webpage 📝 These are content gold mines. Does your organization have an active blog? Is this something you can (or have the bandwidth to) contribute to? This can create a plethora of social media posts. Furthermore, whoever is responsible for your SEO (search engine optimization) will thank you.
Opt-in Freebie 📝 Consider generating a freebie download that delivers value in exchange for an email address.
Giving Confirmation Page There is so much unrealized potential in our giving confirmation pages. We won’t go into all the opportunities to maximize your confirmation page in this post. However, a good starting point is reassuring your donor that they have made a difference by sharing a success story. Again, you can do this with video, audio, infographic, or written form.
Endowment and Impact Reports 📝 Endowment and impact reporting is one of the most critical pieces of stewarding donors and inspiring them to continue giving generously. Sharing a story from an impact report with a broader audience is also a valuable recognition tool. Learn how to create beautiful and powerful impact reports with some of our most popular webinars here.
Fundraising Campaign Materials Prospective donors will not give to your campaign unless you build a strong case for support. Facts and figures are important. But as mentioned above, researchers have found that emotion - not logic - is the primary motivator in making a gift. So if your campaign is raising money for something not-so-sexy like your general operating fund, make your story specific and personal to compel your donor to give. 📝 ← Indicates good potential for being a primary piece of content due to its long-form or longish nature. (Side note: Long-form typically refers to a 1,000+ word piece. I would argue that you can still gather many valuable points from as little as 250+ words.) Your short-form content will spin off this.
How to Make it Happen
The above list is not comprehensive. And in ten years, when you stumble across this post, you may find that things like Instagram or podcasts no longer exist. Who knows?
But the bottom line is to be deliberate with your time and resources. Your to-do list is already long. We don’t want to frivolously add to it. We want to help you be more intentional with it.
Do not feel pressured to implement every one of these suggestions. Not all of these channels will make sense for you and your organization. But if you are wondering how to make even one of these possible, the solution is to delegate, delegate, delegate.
This is an excellent task for donor relations professionals to outsource. Online marketing expert Amy Porterfield does not recommend doing this alone. You can either create the original piece in-house or hand it over to someone who does this regularly. Either way, contracting out any portion of this will pay off tenfold.
Though this is not an ad for The DRG Group, this is precisely the type of thing our donor relations consultants and associates do. Let us know how we can help.
If you need a refresher on writing killer donor communications, it is worth investing in our online course, The Keys to Amazing Donor Communications.
How has recycling content worked for you?
Share with us your successes…or even failures. Remember, our mistakes are only wasted if we keep them to ourselves.
What are some other ideas you have for repurposing your content?