Content Strategy Partnership, Winter 2019

Build Your Nonprofit’s Capacity to Create, Manage, Promote, and Measure Digital Content

Photo of Participants in the 2016 DePaul MA in WRD Digital Content Partnership
Students and nonprofit partners from a prior Content Strategy Partnership. Partners included Chicago Youth Programs, the Rauner Family YMCA, Art on Sedgwick, and Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

If your nonprofit organization needs a content strategy—a plan to guide how you create, maintain, and assess the performance of your online content—consider applying for a free service-learning partnership offered by Professor Lisa Dush of DePaul University.  This partnership will connect you with a team of graduate students in a Content Strategy course offered by DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, with whom you will develop a content strategy for your organization.

The partnership will run from mid-January to mid-March 2019. Three or four organizations will be selected to partner with the course.

What Will Our Organization Get From this Partnership?

The primary benefits of the partnership are the time, coaching, and instruction it will provide you, so that you can develop a content strategy appropriate to your organization.

Your team of 3–4 students, with your input, will complete tasks such as the following:

  • Audit your organization’s website, social media accounts, and other digital content to determine the consistency and relevance of this content, given your key audiences and organizational goals
  • Conduct a peer/competitor analysis, to determine content norms and best practice among organizations with missions similar to yours
  • Run user testing and interview users of your content, to learn better how they experience your content
  • Create personas of key content audiences, to guide future content development
  • Lead a card-sorting activity with your organization’s key stakeholders, to determine messaging language to guide future content development
  • Create an annual communication calendar, that helps you to plan content development
  • Codify recommended forms of content and their specifications into templates and editorial guidelines
  • Identify metrics and design reasonable measurement routines to assess the effectiveness of your content

Your team’s work will be collated into a report to guide your organization’s future content strategy. We are also often able to connect partner organizations with a DePaul intern after the course, to continue the work that has begun.

What Time Commitment is Required by this Partnership?

Your organization should assign 1-3 people to this partnership, each familiar with the organization’s communication and marketing efforts (more than one participant is ideal, to the end of building capacity). In prior partnerships, participants have included staff members and, occasionally, board members.

Organizations should plan to devote an average of 1-3 hours per week to the partnership, from mid-January through mid-March.

We ask that you host members of the student team at least once at your organization, and that you connect students with both representative users and any key internal stakeholders, so that the students can conduct user- and stakeholder research. Much of this work can be done remotely, but in cases where that’s not possible, students will do the traveling.

Prof. Dush will also share key content-strategy resources with all partners, so that you can better understand the process and best practices of nonprofit content strategy.

The total time commitment and key dates for participating organizations are as follows:

  • ASAP (anytime after 12/19): Email Prof. Dush at ldush@depaul.edu to express your interest in the partnership
  • Before Jan. 4 (priority date, Jan. 1): Submit an Partnership Application Form and meet or talk on the phone with Prof. Dush about your organization’s current practices and content priorities. This discussion will help us to determine whether your organization is a good fit for this partnership.
  • Before Tu Jan. 29: Spend approximately 2–3 hrs., on your own time, familiarizing yourself with the online learning platform we will use to coordinate the partnership and review some content-strategy resources.
  • Tu Jan. 29, 6–7:30 pm: Attend Prof. Dush’s class on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus to meet student team and discuss content priorities and plan of work.
  • W Jan. 30–Tu Mar. 12: Participants spend approximately 1-3 hrs/wk learning about content strategy, connecting students to users and stakeholders, and giving feedback on draft documents.
  • Tu Mar. 12, 6–7:30 pm: Attend Prof. Dush’s class on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus to hear all teams’ final presentations and celebrate completion of the project.

How Do We Sign Up?

If your organization is interested in this partnership, please email Prof. Lisa Dush at ldush@depaul.edu. After you express your interest via email, you can complete the Partnership Application Form and arrange a time to talk by phone or in person with Prof. Dush.

Additional details about past nonprofit partnership courses are available online at http://lisadush.com/stories-at-work/.