Is Podcasting Right For Your Non-Profit?

5 min read

Simplecast loves non-profits–and we work a lot of them. They’re using podcasting every day to effectively communicate with donors, volunteers, staff, legislators, benefactors, and the general public. As podcast adoption grows in general, it’s also growing among non-profit communications teams–which is why we wanted to do a quick roundup of what podcasting can do for you!

But first…

Are there any reasons a podcast wouldn’t be right for your non-profit?

We’ll always be upfront with the fact that podcasting isn’t right for everyone, and that’s because there’s no one tool that’s right for every application. Two situations we can think of that would indicate podcasting isn’t right for your non-profit:

#1: You need funds right now.
A podcast takes a while to create, and even longer to attract an audience. If time is of the essence, a podcast isn’t the right place to put your energy right now.

#2: You don’t have any resources to devote to podcasting.
When you start researching podcasting, you might hear about how “it has such a low barrier to entry!” This is true–comparatively. A podcast is arguably easier to create than a video series, but that doesn’t mean you can do it with a laptop mic and nothing else. Podcasts require time and thoughtfulness and bandwidth–and that’s even before you get to gear and editing and marketing. You can make choices about where you want to invest (for instance, not everyone needs professional gear and an in-house editor right away), but you will have to do some investing, even if it’s just in time and person-power.

So, if you have some time, and some resources, podcasting can be a great fit for your organization. Here are some of the benefits.

Growing education and awareness

If we’re being completely candid, this is the big, obvious reason for a non-profit to start a podcast. In order for people to care or utilize your services, they need to know what you’re doing. A podcast can definitely allow you to delve deeper into the systemic issues that make your non-profit necessary, or help you spotlight the people and organizations you’ve helped.  

Strengthening relationships with movement partners

Chances are you know who your movement partners are–those people and organizations that work in the same spaces as you, and who have overlap in donors, volunteers, or mission (or all three!). Building solidarity (and solid relationships) with those potential partners can be invaluable when launching campaigns, working together to advance legislation, fundraising, or coordinating other actions. However, we know sometimes non-profits only reach out to their movement partners when they need something. If the format of your podcast allows other voices, inviting a movement partner to be a guest on your show can be a great “give” before your eventual “ask”. Plus, if there is audience overlap between you two, you may find new listeners, or your guest might find new volunteers! It’s win-win!

Building the profile of your team

Having a high-profile executive director or leadership team can help fundraising and awareness efforts incredibly–but what if your executive director isn’t high-profile yet? You can bring in an outside agency or in-house hire to try and arrange press mentions, and to secure speaking opportunities–these are both great options, but they depend on the platform of other outlets. With a podcast, you own and operate the platform, so it’s much easier to get a placement! If you leverage your own team as on-air talent, as your show grows, so will their profile–and that, in turn, will make opening those doors to speaking and press opps a little easier.

Finding new donors & volunteers

When looking for a donor, whether major or minor, one of the first steps is for them to get to know your organization. What do you do? What do you stand for? Who are you serving? A lot of times, this can happen over coffee or through a peer introduction–but there’s two key reasons why a podcast can be another way to find new donors.

#1: The in-person events that a potential donor or volunteer might first encounter you at, whether it’s a panel, a letter-writing party, a gala, or a fundraising happy hour, are currently on pause due to COVID-19. Lucky for you, a podcast does not require that people be in the same room! However, podcasting is considered one of the most intimate forms of media–it’s a one-to-one conversation happening directly in your potential donor’s ear.

#2 Even when we’re not living through a global pandemic, we know non-profit teams can be small, scrappy, and wearing basically every hat. Podcasting can be an evergreen solution to finding new donors and volunteers. If your content is durable, it’s available for anyone to access at any time–and the same can’t be said about networking happy hours!

Plus, with Simplecast’s analytics, you can get information about audiences you may not have–if most of your donor base lives in the south west, but you’re seeing a lot of listeners in the north east, it might make sense to re-tool your local comms plans and field outreach.

Boosting donor engagement

You have a lot of channels to engage with your donors, but chances are, those channels–whether they’re newsletters, emails, or social media–are becoming increasingly crowded. Podcasting is still a nascent medium with a listener base that’s constantly growing–you have the opportunity to be the first podcast someone listens to! Podcasting is also a marketing medium that doesn’t rely on screens at all–so even if people are looking to put their phone down, they can still listen and subscribe. All of this means that podcasting is an extremely impactful way to engage with your current donors if you find your other marketing channels just aren’t cutting it.

Priming your base for end-of-year fundraising

Just like with movement partners, we know some communications teams in non-profits are concerned about only reaching out to their base when they’re in the middle of fundraising. Podcasting allows you to keep a steady stream of communications flowing towards your donors and fundraisers all year long–so when EOY fundraising starts happening, your base has been hearing from you since long before Giving Tuesday. You can even use our tools like our Movable Audio Engine to dynamically swap in content when you have new fundraising or appeals cycles–so even if someone is listening to an episode from your back catalogue, you can update your pre-, mid- or post-roll so that the call-to-action is current. (Bonus tip: you can use your episode analytics to see which episode was the most popular–and then repurpose that content for e-appeals, social content, or videos.)

Sound good? Interested in podcasting for your organization? Reach out here to talk to our sales team here–we offer discounts for non-profits!