Four ways nonprofits can use podcasting
On demand, up to the minute, and valuable information is available to anyone in today’s global digital community. Your nonprofit has important info, intriguing stories and a unique perspective to share. Get the word out there! Let your organization’s voice be heard by creating a podcast – an audio production that listeners can access on demand. With millions of podcast downloads every month from services such as iTunes and Stitcher, the popularity of podcasting continues to grow.
Podcasts range in format from casual conversations to formal presentations and interviews. Your approach should be in line with your nonprofit’s overall approach and tone.
Podcasting provides a different way for people to interact with your organization. The episodes you produce can help your organization raise its profile, develop a personal connection, and stand out from the crowd.
Here are four ways you can use podcasting for your nonprofit:
1. Create a personal connection
You probably spend significant time planning your marketing and communications strategies. Do you have a way to make things personal? Creating a personal connection between your staff, volunteers, the people you serve, and potential donors who want to be part of what you do?
This is your chance to create a personalized link to your audience(s). There’s nothing like hearing someone’s voice and getting familiar with it – there’s a comfort level and trust built when you feel like you’re getting to know someone. Hearing a consistent voice regularly through your earbuds creates that kind of connection.
A great example of this is the Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) podcast series that lets you “meet the people who make the museum tick” – a fantastic way to let people feel like they’re in the know about who you are and what you do.
2. Raise your profile by sharing your expertise
Your organization has a mission and works hard to achieve it through a variety of activities. Do you ever have people say, “I had no idea you did that!?” (fill in the blank for “that”). Often nonprofits are involved in many kinds of work and no one audience is familiar with all that you do, and how the info/services you provide can be of benefit to them.
An example of this approach is the PRIM&R (Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research) collaboration with the Human Research Protection Office at Washington University, a podcast titled More than Meets the IRB. Their podcast is a series of educational episodes, provided at no cost to an audience of research ethics professionals and lay people. They provide specific info to an audience of interested pros, providing value, and cementing their leadership in their subject area.
3. Share your stories
Our work tends to come alive when we hear from the people who access, benefit and have success as a result of being involved with our nonprofit organization. Personal stories that people share from the heart have an impact on the listener. How many times have you built your annual report, social media post or presentation around a great good-news story? My guess is it’s a regular occurrence because those stories paint a vivid picture of the “why” we do what we do.
Podcasts that are built around people sharing their own personal stories are exceptionally engaging and keep me coming back. Although it’s not produced by a nonprofit, my favourite example of podcast storytelling is Grown Ups Read Things They Wrote as Kids. This podcast was created and produced by Dan and Jenna Misener, broadcast by the CBC in 2014, and is now made independently. The podcast invites people to “to reflect on their own lives, to connect with who they used to be, and to draw a line that connects the past and the present…. They’re compelling stories, at once deeply personal, yet surprisingly universal.”
An entire episode of stories may not work for your nonprofit, but including a strong storytelling element within a podcast episode can be powerful.
4. Offer resources
Nonprofit marketing and communications professionals put a lot of work into creating compelling and engaging resources. Unfortunately, these excellent materials don’t always achieve the reach we’d like them to have. By adding a podcast to your tools for sharing there’s an opportunity to leverage work you create for other purposes, ie: repurposing the content of a blog post. With a podcast, you’re making the most of your work by delivering info via an additional communication channel and engaging with new people.
Volunteer Yukon has a suite of resources available, including podcasts, documents, and training videos. Tackling topics such as HR management, privacy protection, and liability/insurance, they have incorporated the podcast method of info delivery into their offerings.
If you’re interested in learning more, there are tons of online resources to help you get started. One of the first things you should do is listen to podcasts! Pick a couple of topic areas that interest you – whether it’s a nonprofit’s podcast, or something purely for your own learning or entertainment. Listening to several episodes will help you get an ear for the medium and jumpstart your creative side in establishing one of your own.
There are lots of resources available for nonprofit marcom pros who are looking to enter the world of podcasting, for example:
- Tony Martignetti’s Nonprofit Radio (a weekly podcast on topics of interest to nonprofits)
- A how-to from Donna Papacosta’s Trafcom News: Podcasting for nonprofits
- Courses offered by organizations such as the Centre for Social Innovation
- Events like PodCamp Toronto
- One of the many books on the topic
Things to think about when planning a podcast
- The audience for your podcast: some podcasts are created for internal audiences such as staff, volunteers or donors. Others are geared towards a public audience, serving to inform and attract people to the work of your organization.
- Episode schedule and organization: consider whether you will group episodes according to topic area, create a seasonal timeline, run indefinitely on a fixed schedule, or use some other organizational premise.
- Setup and accompaniment: think about how your podcast will be set up (interview? narrative?) and how it will sound. If you’ll need music for an intro, segment transition or closing, determine where this music will come from and ensure you have the rights to use it. There are music options that have been made available by people such as Podington Bear, with music made available for free to creators under a Creative Commons License. Be sure you read the fine print to ensure you are fulfilling any and all requirements of these types of licenses.
Your nonprofit has lots to offer this world! Podcasting can be a great way to create a personal connection, raise your profile by sharing your expertise, share your stories and offer resources. I’ll look forward to adding your episodes to my playlist!