Have you been wondering how to position your organization or a member of your executive team as a thought leader? There are many online and offline ways to work toward this goal—from public relations to LinkedIn posts to speaking engagements—so there’s not going to be one channel that takes you from nobody to influencer. Learn the places where your website can play an important role in thought leadership marketing and check out real-world examples from fellow nonprofits.
What is Thought Leadership Marketing?
Thought leadership marketing is a form of content marketing focused on establishing your organization as an authority in your field. More than just being a subject-matter or technical expert, a nonprofit thought leader actively participates in and contributes to the discussions about the community they serve and the issues or policies related to their mission.
A successful thought leadership marketing strategy will help build a nonprofit’s network and name recognition in ways that open doors and attract new interest in the cause, including from journalists, potential donors and cause marketing partners.
Leveraging Your Nonprofit Website
With the pace of today’s news cycle and the amount of content being created each day, a digital channel like your nonprofit’s website is a key tool for thought leadership marketing. A website is (hopefully) a foundational part of your brand—plus it’s a platform in your full control, where you can strategically publish and spread your message.
Below, I’ve outlined seven places and types of content on your website that can help establish the authority of a thought leader. Along with examples from real nonprofits, you’ll discover where you can invest in or update your website to support thought leadership goals.
Staff/Board Page Bios
Demonstrate expertise with biographies that include experience, education and qualifications along with a professional headshot. Your staff page could even feature recent speaking engagements and links to written work like editorials. This staff bio example from TNTP includes a thorough profile with a social media handle, great photo and links to blog posts authored by the staff person.
Blogging and thought leaders are a match made in marketing heaven. With consistent posting, you can share insights about your work and get opinionated without a ton of risk. You can also bring in guest writers and raise up the voices of others who share your values. And don’t forget about the comments! Getting into the comments and engaging with readers demonstrates confidence as well as a personal touch. For inspiration, visit and read through the President’s Blog of the American Indian College Fund, which is a special category set aside for commentary from the organization’s leader.
Resources and Reports
Offer easily accessible and shareable mission-related resources to help solidify your role in your nonprofit’s field of work. As a provider of quality and trustworthy information, you can grow your reputation and add value to the larger community. SAGE offers a well-organized library of fact sheets and publications in the Your Rights & Resources section of their site, making it easy for visitors to sort and find information whenever they like.
Be a go-to source for journalists covering news related to your mission and community by offering a media-friendly place on your website and making it easy for the press to reach you. Essential press page elements include recent press releases, boilerplate language about the organization and links to helpful information like multimedia galleries, past coverage and staff bios. The News & Media pages from Fisher House offer a treasure trove of content for reporters looking for a media kit and swipe files.
Partners and Affiliations
There’s a reason that many nonprofits have a partners page or sponsor information on their websites. A list of logos can go a long way to visually communicate that your organization is reputable and vetted by third-parties. In this example from Warren Village, they go above and beyond by providing additional details about the role and impact of their partners, which shows appreciation and credibility.
Similar to showcasing your nonprofit’s partnerships, use social proof to position your organization or a team member as making an impact for the cause. This can take many forms, from sharing testimonials and case studies to posting reviews and feedback from the people you serve. The Association of Women in Science gives a boost to their Partners Page by using quotes from their partners about the work they do.
Don’t just be great at saying things—show what your everyday leadership accomplishes for your mission and the people you serve. Back up your expertise by creating an impact page on your site where you show the results of your team’s work. The National Forest Foundation’s Our Impact section goes beyond the numbers to include photo-filled profiles of their program successes.
Is Your Website Ready?
Beyond these specific pages and content types, the overall design and functionality of your website also play into your positioning and credibility. Just like you, it should be accessible, responsive and user-friendly as you work to expand your reach. If you’re serious about thought leadership marketing but your website is a big challenge, it might be time to consider an update or major do-over. Check out our guide to building your dream site.
Thought leadership marketing isn’t done with content alone. It takes having a position, listening to the community and being an active participant. Let your website do some of the work so that you and your organization can do more good in the world.
Who are the thought leaders in the nonprofit world that you admire? Do you have questions about how you can better leverage your website for thought leadership marketing? See you in the comments!