Creating an editorial calendar is an effective way to keep your organization’s newsletter, website, blog, and social media content fresh and current. Should you go with paper or something more high tech? Use whatever works best for you and your team: a wall calendar, Excel spreadsheet, Google Calendar, or even dedicated project management software. While it can contain loads of info, an editorial calendar at its most basic organizes the what, when, and who of your media outreach.

Here’s a quick primer on how to create an editorial calendar that’ll keep your team on track and your online presence fresh.

 

First: Answer What, When, and Who?

Create a broad outline of your organization’s content needs. This process includes answering “what, when, and who?”

WHAT types of media do you publish? Make a list of the different ways your nonprofit communicates with constituents. The options are endless, but here are a few ideas:

  • Website: Message from the executive director, volunteer opportunities, upcoming events.
  • Blog: Posts about recent events, fundraising campaigns, awards your nonprofit received, success stories, current issues affecting your cause.
  • Email: Newsletters, campaign updates, event invitations.
  • Facebook: Polls, success stories, links to blog posts or videos, contests, photos from the field, “volunteer of the week” profiles.
  • Twitter: Links to blog posts, event announcements, requests for volunteers.
  • YouTube: Videos from events, fieldwork, success stories.

WHEN is the deadline? Look at your “what” list and decide how often to update each item. Maybe you’ll revamp your homepage content once a month, publish a new blog post every Monday, send an email newsletter on the 15th of each month, post to Facebook every weekday morning, and so on.

WHO is the writer? Decide who on your team is responsible for creating and delivering each of the various pieces. Also, be sure to assign a team member or two to social media duties so someone is always available to interact with fans.

 

Next: Fill in the Blanks

Now that you have the basic framework of your nonprofit’s content needs, you can start filling your calendar with detailed information about each item, such as the specific topic of a blog post or Facebook update. A typical week might look something like this:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Facebook:

Gina K, 10am.

Volunteer of the Week: Ellen Jones

Facebook:

Gina K., 10am.

Pic from dog adoption fair

Facebook:

Gina K., 10am.

Link to new YouTube video

Facebook:

Gina K., 10am.

Meet the Staff: Joe T.

Facebook:

Gina K., 10am.

Friday Fan Giveaway: Mug

Blog:

Ann S., noon.

Beagle Boogie gala recap (link on Twitter)

YouTube:

Joe T., EOD.

Ribbon cutting and tour of new kennels and dog run.

Homepage:

Joe T., 10am.

Update events sidebar, volunteer opportunities

Website:

Mary M., EOD.

Monthly message from executive director

Email NL (biweekly):

Ann S., 10am.

Dog adoption, Beagle Bingo event, request for supplies, link to donation page (post pdf on FB, link on Twitter)

 

 

This is, of course, a very basic editorial calendar, but it’s an easy place to begin. Yours could include more or fewer items, more or less detail, checkboxes to indicate approvals or stages of production, and so on. Expect your calendar to evolve as your needs change.

 

Big-Picture Benefits

Save your old calendars! Editorial calendars are great for more than just planning ahead. Over time, you’ll find them useful for reviewing what topics you’ve covered and when. This can help you avoid duplicating content or remind you to update your constituents on, say, a past event, contest, or campaign. You might also include data on published content like page views or click-through rates to see which pieces were most effective.

When it comes right down to it, an editorial calendar is just a super-organized to-do list that encourages engagement as your supporters keep coming back to your online channels to find out what’s new and exciting at your nonprofit.

 

Fundraising Takeaways

  • Your editorial calendar can be as simple or complex as you like, but it should at least answer the questions what, when, and who.
  • Organizing all the elements of your media outreach into one editorial calendar helps you keep content fresh and up to date. Readers will respond by coming back more often to see what’s new at your nonprofit.
  • Review your old editorial calendars to make sure you aren’t repeating content or that you’ve updated readers when necessary. They’re also useful for tracking which content was most successful.