Why Podcasting Might Be of Interest to Your Nonprofit

By Casey Fiesler from Atlanta (Serial Podcast) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
September 5, 2017; NiemanLab

The podcast medium has been growing steadily over the last few years. There are currently 67 million monthly podcast listeners in the U.S., up 21 percent from last year’s 57 million.

This is impressive for a medium that is still finding its bearings in many ways. According to Nicholas Quah, who hosts a weekly podcasting newsletter called Hot Pod, the medium is “(a) still propped up by a barely evolved technological infrastructure, (b) has only seen a few instances of significant capital investment, and (c) still sees its industry power very much under-organized.”

According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study, in 2015 podcast advertising revenues came in at $69 million. By 2016, they were $119 million. The industry is expected to top $220 million by the end of 2017.

Quah recently reviewed the top six developments and trends in podcasting this year.

  • August saw four significant investments in the industry, totaling $47.2 million. These differ from previous investments in that they “are specific to the needs, textures, and idiosyncrasies of the podcast ecosystem,” rather than “consumer-focused audio app and platform plays.”
  • Apple’s in-episode analytics, announced in June, will soon offer publishers actual listening data as well as download data. Quah calls this “the most significant development to hit the podcast industry” since Apple consolidated the ecosystem (first in iTunes, then in a standalone app, and now packaged with iOS).
  • Podcast programming is being increasingly adapted to other media like film and television. The “Man of the People” episode of Reply All has been optioned for a feature film. Gimlet Media is looking to bring Homecoming and StartUp to TV, and cable networks HBO and USA are eyeing WNYC’s 2 Dope Queens and Night Vale Presents’ Alice Isn’t Dead, respectively. This provides a new revenue stream and audience development.
  • Increasing content quality is represented by hits going mainstream (Missing Richard Simmons and S-Town) and “the rise of the daily news podcast,” which Quah calls “the most exciting front in the space in a long time” representing innovation and ambition.”
  • There’s been a rise in “windowing.” That’s where a podcast publisher will offer an early preview of a series or episode on a private partner platform like Spotify or Stitcher before the public open release.
  • Lastly, platform fluidity means the podcast concept is moving beyond initial infrastructure elements like RSS feeds, “podcatchers,” and the Apple device that gave it the name. Quah writes, “The way we talk about all of this—the content, the technology, the audiences—will have shifted from a narrative about the clash between an incumbent and an insurgent (‘the future of radio’) towards a clash between publishing factions defined by different formations of publishing communities (‘a type/genre/kind of audio’).”

With the growth of the podcast medium comes complexity, and in Quah’s eyes, “that complexity can be destabilizing.” One thing to watch out for is whether the transition will change the relatively accessible and meritocratic nature of podcasts. There will need to be a need to balance podcasting’s meaningful gains, with making sure small and upstart creators still have a place to go. NPQ recently wrote about Boston’s podcast incubator, Podcast Garage, “a membership nonprofit with a monthly fee that includes studio time and co-working space.”

If you’re wondering if your organization should be podcasting, you can still check out NPQ’s classic “What’s in Podcasting for Nonprofits?”—Cyndi Suarez

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[PODCAST] The Ins and Outs of Community Engagement | Ft. Amy Sample Ward

NTEN’s CEO, Amy Sample Ward, and Randy covered a lot of topics in this week’s podcast.

Amy referenced her blog, where she writes about the ever-changing world of social media, engagement and the nonprofit sector in relation to generations.

It’s no secret that nonprofit branding is important to the success of your organization, but Amy had some different ideas on whether or not it’s the right thing to focus on.

Instead, she urges organizations to think about the idea of community. She believes that a community is a group of people that is already directly related to you and should never be something that you’re “targeting.” Your community is a group that has already opted to get content from you; whether it be through a podcast or email, they want to hear from you! Amy says that’s important because they’ve already said, “Yes! We like you!”

So what now? Is it like that awkward first date we’ve all been on? Yes, they like you, but what do you do about it? Cue: social media!

The point of social media can be confusing. But, for your nonprofit, focus on using it for:

  • Disseminating information about your causes and the organization.
  • Building community and engaging with different stakeholders.
  • Mobilizing actions like donations and volunteer work.


Social media is the perfect platform for getting your information out there! If your community follows you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then they will see it. It’s less invasive than an email, plus you can send more than one without being too overbearing. By doing this, you are inadvertently building your community. Now you have to direct your posts toward stakeholders. Do this by creating a strong call to action that will communicate your cause to them. Social media is great for actions, too. Asking for donations and volunteers is easy because it’s so widespread. You’re reaching people you’ve never met without doing a lot of heavy lifting!

Not sure you believe how easy it is? Don’t worry! You’ll get the hang of it. And when you do, post on social media and tag us with what you’ve learned in the podcast. Use the hashtag #nphubpodcastlearning to see what others are saying and start building your community!

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