Content Strategy Partnership, Winter 2017

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

“The single most common mistake organizations make is to start blogging and tweeting and so on without having a plan first.”
— from Frick and Eyler-Werve, Return on Engagement: Content Strategy and Web Design Techniques for Digital Marketing (2015)

If your nonprofit organization is ready to create new types of digital content, or if you’re already creating digital content but lack a clear strategy for doing so, consider applying for a free service-learning partnership offered by Professor Lisa Dush of DePaul University. This partnership will connect your staff with a team of graduate students from Professor Dush’s Writing Digital Content course, to develop or refine and document a digital content strategy for your organization.

The partnership will run from late-January to mid-March 2017. Two or three 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 assistance it will provide you, so that you may develop a content strategy appropriate to your organization’s staff, key audiences, current practice, and budget.

In the course of the partnership, your student team will do the following:

  • Audit your organization’s existing digital content—including your website and social media accounts—to determine the consistency, relevance, navigability, readability, engagement level, and audience-appropriateness of this content
  • Conduct a peer/competitor analysis, to determine content norms and best practice among organizations with similar aims
  • Run user testing to determine whether key content audiences can effectively navigate and act on your existing content
  • Create personas of key content audiences, to guide future content development
  • Run a card-sorting activity with your organization’s key stakeholders, to determine messaging language to guide future content development (this activity can be done in a face-to-face meeting or remotely)
  • Create an annual communication calendar, that helps you to plan content development
  • Codify recommended forms of content and their specifications into templates

The student team’s work will be collated into a report (see a recap of the work produced in the 2016 partnership), which can guide your organization’s content-related efforts after the partnership.

What Time Commitment is Required by this Partnership?

Your organization should assign 1-3 staff members to this partnership, each of whom should be familiar with the organization’s communication and marketing efforts. Participating staff members should plan to devote an average of 2-3 hours per week to the project, from late-January through mid-March.

We ask that you host members of the student team at your organization for a meeting with a group of staff members in February. The partnership will work best if you can also connect team members with 2-4 representative members of your content audiences (e.g., clients, board members), so that the students can conduct in-person user research. Students can travel to meet these audiences in a location most convenient to them.

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

  • M Jan. 3–F Jan. 17: Meet with Prof. Dush to discuss content priorities and workflow (approximately 1 hr, by phone or at your organization)
  • Tu Jan. 31, 6–8:00 pm: Attend Prof. Dush’s Writing Digital Content Course on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus to meet student team and discuss content priorities and plan of work
  • W Feb. 8–F Feb. 17: Host 2–4 members of the DePaul student team at your organization, for a 1 hr meeting with key staff and stakeholders to do card-sorting activity and generate ideas for annual communication calendar
  • W Feb. 1-M–Tu Feb. 28 (approximately 10-12 hrs): Work remotely with student team to give feedback on developing strategy documents; connect student team with key staff and stakeholders for face-to-face user research sessions
  • M Feb. 27–F March. 3: schedule 1-hr meeting (in person or via conference call) to discuss staff feedback on draft report with student team

How Do We Sign Up?

If your organization is interested in this partnership, please contact Professor Lisa Dush at and/or complete the partnership application form.

Additional details about past nonprofit partnership courses are available online at