Matt Collins

Managing Director, Platypus Digital


Top influential fundraiser, Matt Collins shares some tips on building a calendar to produce fresh and engaging content.


It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

Think of your online strategy as a ‘friendly’ battle. There are many fronts to fight on, including your website, email and social media. All your troops need to be fighting together to win the battle and achieve your overall goal. That requires content that works from the same battle plan, working with not against each other (the troops might also be other members of your team as well).

Your battle plan can take the form of a content calendar. That’s why it’s time to start building your content calendar like a pro.


First of all, your charity will already have upcoming events in the diary. Fundraising events, gala dinners, new reports that you’re releasing…you name it. List all these on a document (or even a good old fashioned piece of flipchart paper), along with the dates they are happening.

Then think about what else is happening in your sector or cause area. Add in any relevant events you aren’t running yourselves. This could include legislative announcements that could affect your charity, like the budget.

Now write the name of the digital channels that your charity uses along the top. This will probably include your website, email, Twitter and Facebook. You might also include any other regularly used channels like postal mailouts or promotional leaflets.

Now pause – remember, not every channel is good for every kind of content. Email is good when you need your audience to take action, while social media is more about sharing stories and engaging with your supporters.

Then summarise what content you need for that event and that channel, in a sentence in each box. For example, ‘Email to past marathon participants asking them to sign up’. Repeat for all the different boxes until you have a comprehensive list of content needed for your organisation.

How does it look? Can you find any overlap? Repurposing content is an important step. Can you write the email needed to promote a report first, and create a series of social media posts from there?

Then you just have to write the content – easy! 


Did you ever get an email asking you to do something you’d already done? Annoying, wasn’t it?

So to avoid that, herein lays one of the simplest secrets of great content strategy – segmentation.

All that means is splitting your email list into groups of people with things in common. That might be fundraisers, event attendees and online influencers. Then, create content that’s going to be interesting to those segments. Because what piques interest in one group will bore the other.

It’s harder to split your social media following into segments, as this isn’t so easy on Facebook or Twitter. You can still look at Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics; identify your most popular posts and try to create more like them.


You’ll probably have similar messages to put out on both social media and email. So when should you use email?

There is no golden rule here. If you send stories about your impact, requests for donations and campaign asks, your stats will tell you which messages work best on which channels.

As a rule of thumb though, use email for broadcast, and social for engagement. If you have a message that doesn’t need discussion or is a straightforward call to action, use email. If it’s more conversational or needs quick answers, go for social.


Bringing your content calendar to life is the fun bit, and the time consuming bit. That doesn’t mean that it has to be the most painful bit.

Collaborate on the plan – get together with the team, grab some Post-its and flip chart paper, and work together. The plan will be tighter, and the team will be more behind creating the content itself.

Divide the team into sub-teams – get fundraising to write the fundraising events content for all channels and volunteering can write the volunteering content. They know their area inside out, and writing about the same topic across channels will get easier as time goes on.

Collaborate on the content – use free collaborative tools like Google Docs to work on documents at the same time. This genuinely makes content creation fun

Help the content get seen – think up an interesting title, add an emoji in email subject lines, and ensure it’s sent to the right segment of your list.


If you haven’t written one before, prepare for a weirdly unfamiliar feeling of control. Creating a calendar shows you exactly what you’ve got coming up, what you need to have in place, and when.

So let’s get started! Here’s a great set of social media templates from Hootsuite to help build planning to messaging plus a marketing guide to creating winning charity emails.

So, what are you waiting for? Build your best content calendar ever – like the pro you are.


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