Nonprofit uses brand journalism to raise cash and awareness

From disaster aid in the U.S. to battling hunger in Africa, World Vision spotlights its work in ways that draw concerned readers and grab the media.

When a viral video focused attention on a brutal African rebel known for kidnapping children to serve as soldiers, the Christian relief agency covered its own work among refugees in Northern Uganda.

All this is part of a strategy of using search engines to draw in people interested in the problems that World Vision addresses—even if they didn’t start out looking for the organization itself.

“There are a lot of people who come to our website, and they are engaged by a particular issue,” says Web Content Manager Carla Swanson-Gawthrop. “They may be really interested in clean water. They may be interested in malaria. It may be something they heard, like the ‘Kony 2012’ video that they saw.”

Some nonprofits are slow to embrace “content marketing” or “brand journalism,” preferring to focus their efforts on cranking out promotional copy, phoning to ask for donations, or tugging the sleeves of reporters and begging for mentions.

World Vision has organizational storytelling as a powerful tool for driving interest—and donations—by pulling in 25,000 unique visitors per week to its home page. Coincidentally, it has also scored big media attention.

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