Podcasts 101: How nonprofits can use podcasts and what to know before starting one

Digital Media

Who listens to podcasts?

Much like the Youtube boom in the early 2000’s, podcasts are having their moment and the appeal of the media format is as strong as ever. While initial research suggested the longform audio format was mostly listened to by millennials, new data suggests about one-third of all Americans have experienced listening to a podcast. 
In an extensive study done by Edison Research, it was found that both the listenership of podcasts and the number of podcasts being produced are steadily growing. While popularity still skews slightly towards younger listeners, about 10% of Americans over the age of 55 listen to at least podcast a month. The demographics also tilt slightly towards men (56% to 44%) and people with higher levels of education.

How can nonprofits use podcasts?

Podcasts are a way to get direct information to whoever your target audience might be, but it can also be a tough field to break into because of the technical skill required and the surplus of new shows being released. For nonprofits, podcasts can be both rewarding and intimidating, so understanding the approaches that work is essential.

1. Use a podcast to share your organization’s stories

Oftentimes, the best podcasts are ones that take unique angles to the format. Rather than solely offering advice, look for stories coming out of your organization that can be shared as narratives or interviews. Instead of only going after big-name guests, find great storytellers who are passionate about your cause and can help you share a message.

2. Use a podcast as a networking opportunity and learning experience for yourself

Inviting guests on your show, or being booked on other podcasts, can be a great way to meet people you want to meet and can lead to productive conversations. Creating situations that are mutually beneficial will likely lead to introductions that you may not be able to get otherwise. A podcast can also present a way to introduce your organization as high-profile and can make you an authority in a certain space.


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3. Experiment with reaching new audiences and get information directly to them

While press in a blog or publication may come with a layer of commentary, a podcast is a direct line of communication with a content creator and listener. The longer form (most podcasts are in the range of 15 to 60 minutes) allows for more information than a Tweet or Facebook post, too.
Perhaps the best thing about podcasts is the low barriers to entry, so they can be a great way to target a certain demographic that you may not pursue with advertising or other traditional methods.

4. Provide resources through a new communication channel

Nonprofit marketing and communications professionals put a lot of work into creating compelling and engaging resources, and a podcast does not necessarily need to stand alone from existing content. If you already have excellent materials that did not achieve the reach you desired, repackaging the content into a podcast episode could be a quick way to have a new communication channel. At the same time, podcast episodes can also lead to new online resources, such as blog posts. Consider putting your material out in multiple channels to reach as big an audience as possible. If you host live events, presentations or lectures, you could also consider releasing the audio in podcast form as well.

5. Make it a positive experience for your organization’s employees

Ultimately, podcasting should be a fun experience, and it can be an easy way to boost organization morale. By profiling a organization member at the end of each episode, giving ownership to different team members or using a podcast as a way to share organization successes, even if your show doesn’t grow a big listenership it can be a positive internal experience. Because publishing podcasts is essentially free, they can be a great place to introduce lighthearted or fun content.

So, should you start a podcast?

There is no right answer, but if you answered “yes” to the questions in the video above, here is our guide to creating a nonprofit podcast. Just make sure you have done your research, on all of the social impact podcasts out there.

If there is a podcast you love or a way your organization uses podcasts creatively, Tweet us @WholeWhale and let us know! And if you haven’t listened to Using The Whole Whale yet, give it a listen. 

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