Podcasting is a powerful way to get a message out to millions of potential listeners. The potential rewards for a nonprofit are undeniable, and it’s not as resource-intensive or cost- prohibitive as it may seem.
Many businesses are already using podcasts effectively for marketing and income-generation. With its powerful reach, increasing popularity, and the relative ease with which podcasts can be established and produced, podcasting offers nonprofits a great way to:
- Get their unique message out into the public sphere
- Create an impact on a mass scale
- Connect with more potential supporters
- Supplement their donor revenue
Costs and Tools of Creating a Podcast
Fortunately for nonprofits, producing a podcast with high production values is fairly inexpensive. There is a bit of work to be done, though. The best podcasts are carefully planned, recorded, edited, and hosted online before each episode is made available for download.
Planning and Coordination Tools
Everything starts with a plan that you can follow. For team communication, we love free apps like Slack (which we use here) and Workplace by Facebook, both of which we reviewed in our Nonprofit Tools section. While you’re there, take a look at our favorite project management system, Asana, for scheduling and assigning tasks.
Tools for Producing Your Podcast
Besides the content of the show, the number one factor in the final quality of a podcast is going to be the recorded audio, for which some basic equipment is needed.
The first tool you’ll need will be a good microphone that captures clear sound. A built-in laptop or webcam mic can do in a pinch, but will be hard to listen to for 30–60 minutes at a time, especially if the listener is on the move.
Several prominent podcasters have recommended the Audio-Technica ATR2100 as a decent-quality option on a modest budget. It’s actually what we use for recording audio here at dotOrgStrategy, and we’re very happy with the results. Higher-end options exist and you may want to experiment based on your budget, but we recommend sticking to powered USB microphones like the ATR2100 or one of the ones from Blue, as many professional microphones require the use of a sound mixing board in order to work with a computer.
Second, you’ll need recording and mixing (editing) software for capturing and editing the show. You don’t need a dedicated recording studio, but you’ll want to check that your editing software includes a good noise reduction filter to eliminate background noises like air conditioners, computer hum, etc.
Once again, price is not a deterring factor, with two free products among the best ways to go: Apple’s Garage Band for MacOS, and Audacity for Windows (which has a great noise cancellation function built in). To record phone conversations, producers might consider free apps like Callnote and Amolto.
Finishing Touches for Your Podcast
To put a little “professional” touch on the podcast, you’ll probably want to use some intro and outro music, which can either be downloaded from low-cost or free stock music libraries, or commissioned from local artists or online freelancers at whatever level your budget allows.
TIP: We love mobygratis, which is an extensive library of background tracks created by Moby that are free to use for non-commercial uses.
Finally, each podcast needs a little bit of graphic design for its cover art. The importance of the cover art can’t be overstated, since it has to be eye-catching and explanatory to potential listeners. There are a number of ways to get inexpensive graphic design jobs like this done online, such as through Fiverr and 99designs.
Sharing Your Podcast with the World
The finished product file then needs to be shared online via a hosting service. Before you can list it on iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere the audio files have to be uploaded to a server. Buzzsprout hosts podcasts for free, but deletes old episodes after 90 days. Libsyn is popular, versatile and reliable, but comes at a cost starting at $5 per month. Amazon Web Services’ S3 is even more flexible and powerful, but may be confusing for beginners. Soundcloud is another favorite that is free, easy to use and easy to embed as a player on your website.
Need some inspiration? Want to see how some of the pros run their shows? We recently rounded up some examples of great podcasts for nonprofits. These aren’t run by nonprofits, but can give you ideas for how to structure yours.