Digital Content Partnership

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 professional development partnership offered by Professor Lisa Dush of DePaul University. This partnership will connect your staff with a small team of graduate students from Professor Dush’s Writing Digital Content course, to develop or refine a digital content strategy for your organization and to begin designing appropriate and sustainable practices to create, manage, promote, and measure content.

The partnership will run from mid-January to mid-March 2016. We welcome applications from any Chicago-area nonprofit. Accepted organizations may assign one or two staff members to the project, each of whom should be familiar with the organization’s communication and marketing efforts.

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 develop drafts of the following documents for your feedback, and the final materials will be collated in a slide-deck report that can guide your organization’s work after the partnership:

  • An audit of your organization’s existing digital content (this might include your website, e-newsletters, videos, social media accounts, white papers, blog, etc.)
  • A competitive analysis of peer organizations’ digital content
  • User research/usability reports for your existing content
  • A content strategy framework, which outlines goals and key performance indicators for different forms/channels of digital content
  • User personas to guide content development
  • An editorial calendar and/or channel plans, to guide the creation and evaluation of content
  • Website mockups and/or other content prototypes/specifications for new or revised forms of content
  • An analytics strategy
  • A content governance plan

All nonprofit partners will also receive a copy of our course textbook, Return on Engagement: Content Strategy and Web Design Techniques for Digital Marketing, by Tim Frick and Kate Eyler-Werve.

Finally, this partnership will give you the opportunity to attend several classes at DePaul and to network with staff from the 3-4 other participating nonprofit organizations.

What Time Commitment is Required by this Partnership?

We ask that each nonprofit partner organization devote 1-2 staff members to this partnership. Participating staff members should plan to devote 2-3 hours per week to the project, from mid-January through mid-March.

The partnership will work best if your student team can also have occasional access to other important stakeholders. For example, we ask you to host a meeting between the student team and key staff and stakeholders in late January/early February, and that you connect the team with several representative members of the audience for your digital content.

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

  • F Dec. 18, 6 pm, partnership application due
  • Tu Dec. 22, Prof. Dush notifies applicants with decision
  • Th Jan. 21, Required, 6-8:00 pm: attend Prof. Dush’s Writing Digital Content Course on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus to meet team, discuss Frick and Eyler-Werve reading, and develop plan to draft initial strategy documents
  • F Jan. 22-F Feb. 5, Required, 1.5 hrs: Host the DePaul graduate-student team (approx. 5 students + Prof. Dush) at your organization, for a meeting with key staff and stakeholders to discuss your organization’s current strategy and practice
  • F Jan. 22-M Feb. 22, Required, approximately 8-10 hrs: Work remotely with student team to give feedback on research materials and developing strategy documents; connect student teams with key stakeholders for face-to-face user research sessions
  • Th Feb. 18, Required, 6-7:30 pm: Attend class at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, for debrief on first report with student team and planning for next steps
  • Th Feb. 25, Optional, 6-7:30 pm: Attend workshop at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, with Kate Eyler-Werve, co-author of Return on Engagement: Content Strategy and Web Design Techniques for Digital Marketing
  • F Feb. 26-M March 7, Required, approximately 4 hrs: Answer questions and contribute ideas as the DePaul team drafts content prototypes and governance documents
  • Th March 10, Required, 6-8:00 pm: Attend class at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, to watch all team presentations and give feedback on final materials

How Do We Apply?

Please submit an application form by 6:00 pm on F Dec. 18. Offers to participate will be communicated by Tu Dec. 22. If you have any questions about the project, contact Professor Lisa Dush at

Additional details about past nonprofit partnership courses are available online at