How One Nonprofit Is Using Content to Give Back to U.S. Soldiers (via hubspot)

Memorial Day is a special day in the U.S. The whole country takes the day off to spend with loved ones and remember the men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In honor of the holiday, we didn’t feel comfortable conducting “business as usual” on the blog today. Instead, we decided to shine the spotlight on one nonprofit that’s creating awesome content to support its mission of giving back to the U.S. military.

The charity, Operation Write Home (OWH), sends care packages to soldiers every week of the year. Inside each care package are blank, handmade greeting cards for soldiers to use as they like, and 20-30 letters of encouragement from people around the country. To help recruit crafty card designers and heartfelt letter-senders, Operation Write Home creates a variety of engaging content.

Here’s a rundown of the awesome content they produce. Even if you’re not a nonprofit — or a U.S. citizen — there is still a lot to learn from Operation Write Home.

The Stars and Stamps Blog

At the core of the charity’s content strategy lies The Stars and Stamps Blog. Publishing content almost every day of the week, the blog content revolves around five different topics: featured cards from community members, OWHtv episodes, card tutorials, weekly card creation challenges, and stories of families who receive the handmade cards from soldiers.

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The blog serves two purposes that support the nonprofit’s growth: it educates and creates a community for donors. The tutorials, OWHtv episodes, and challenges all help improve donors’ card creation skills — which will help improve the quality and quantity of the card donations for all skill levels. Longtime readers get new ideas for cards to design, and card-making rookies can learn something new.

The posts featuring card-making community members and the stories from families who received cards also help increase the sense of community on the blog and within the organization as whole, which is essential to increase donations. Since creating a card takes a larger upfront investment of time and money and is usually a solitary activity, these posts on the blog reduce roadblocks to donating by keeping readers connected with each other.

YouTube Videos

Operation Write Home also has some incredible video content that helps diversify the type of content it offers and help extend its reach. The nonprofit has three main types of videos: OWHtv (a weekly live webcast), behind-the-scenes videos, and community-generated videos.

Filmed live every week, OWHtv is a way for the nonprofit’s community to learn more about card making and connect with each other through video. The founder, Sandy Allock, had hosted the livestream every Thursday night since 2011, and it consistently generates ~1,000 views per video. While she’s talking, she enables the live chat option on YouTube and answers questions and comments from her community members. Like some of their blog posts, this type of video helps connect the OWH community.

OWH also uses videos to offer a glimpse into the organization itself, like the journey of one handmade card to a soldier, for example. The nonprofit does a great job of storytelling in its videos so that the behind-the-scenes peeks are interesting even to someone who doesn’t necessarily know about the organization.

The nonprofit also showcases videos from community members on its channel, which helps strengthen ties with its members. Community-generated content is a win-win: People who contribute videos will feel special for being featured, and Operation Write Home has more content to showcase. For an example of community-generated content, here’s a video of a soldier who received a care package from OWH. (Warning: this video is an adorable tear-jerker.)

 

We love two things about OWH’s YouTube videos most: 1) The nonprofit is registered with YouTube, so there is a call-to-action right below the video to donate, and 2) they are all filmed and edited by the OWH staff themselves – no fancy equipment needed.

The OWH Facebook Page

Operation Write Home also creates some incredible content for Facebook. Not only has the organization creatively customized its cover photo and additional pages, but it also consistently shares content that its Facebook fans love.

Facebook_Pag_OWHJust like on its other platforms, OWH posts a mixture of informative how-to’s and content focused on community members — and it works. Aligning with the data we’ve seen about Facebook, the most popular type of content on OWH’s page is photos. The reason these photos are often so successful is because Operation Write Home taps into common community emotions: a love for U.S. soldiers, and card making.

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Free Downloads 

Last, but not least, Operation Write Home provides a ton of free content on its website for its community. The nonprofit offers quite the variety — website badges, coloring pages, calendars, labels, and brochures — to make it as easy as possible for community members to learn more about OWH, donate their time, and show their support on their blog or website.

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Since this content is evergreen, these free downloads and HTML embed codes will continue to pay dividends long after they’ve been created. Plus, they allow Operation Write Home to be a one-stop-shop for a potential donor’s card-creation needs.

The only thing that would make these free resources any more valuable for OWH would be to put these downloads behind a form. This way, Operation Write Home could start recruiting and nurturing donors via email marketing.

Ultimately, Operation Write Home’s exceptional content helps further its mission to support our soldiers by recruiting new donors and delighting existing ones. And on this Memorial Day, it’s comforting to know that content allows nonprofits like OWH to grow and continue to give back.

 

View the full post and view associated video clips on Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Blog here>>

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