How to Plan Your Content Calendar 1 Year in Advance

Written by Mate Tagaj

5 min read

Published on Jun 17, 2024

Updated on Jul 03, 2024

The constant pressure to create and publish new content can be an overwhelming task, especially when you work for a nonprofit where resources are always a little tight. We all have those days when we can’t come up with ideas, or can’t get the creative juices flowing to write the latest report or white paper. This is where having a content calendar comes in handy.
Someone looking at a yearly calendar and filling it in
Your content calendar or communications calendar is there to guide you through the content planning and creation process. This comms calendar won’t just take the guesswork out of coming up with new ideas, but it will also help keep you focussed and aligned with the wider organisational goals.
At Boostern, we’re huge fans of yearly comms calendars and we’re here to guide you through crafting a powerful content calendar – planned a full year in advance!

Why Do You Need to Plan a Year Ahead?

We’re not saying that content planning for a year in advance is a quick task, but once you’ve got everything in an editorial plan, it will make your life a whole lot easier. Here are some of the reasons why planning ahead is super important for nonprofits:
1. You can connect your content to your organisation’s overall goals and mission
2. You can plan cohesive campaigns around key events like the EU elections, and awareness days, weeks and months.
3. You can batch-create content and plan your social posts to free up time in the future.
4. You can coordinate content planning and creation across teams for a smoother workflow.
5. You can maintain a regular posting schedule to build audience engagement.

Start Coming Up With Some Ideas for Your Content Calendar

Free up a couple of hours of your time, and start putting together an annual editorial plan. Here are the 4 steps you should follow to get started:
Content Calendar Idea Generation Steps

1. Define Your Target Audience

It doesn’t matter what content you’re creating – whether it’s social media videos, blog posts, or 30-page brochures – you can’t start writing until you have a good idea of who you want to speak to.
Think about your target audience. For instance, who are they? What are their interests and pain points? 
You don’t have to know all of this information off the top of your head; that’s what your communication strategy is for. If you haven’t done so already, conducting target audience research through surveys, social media analytics, or focus groups can give you the information you need to focus your content.

2. Set Some SMART Goals

Specificity is key when it comes to content planning, especially when you want to drive real results.
Instead of vaguely planning to drive more engagement, be much more specific.
Here are some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals that might be relevant to your organisation:
Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, Time-Bound. These are the words that form the SMART acronym that is used for goals
  1. Increase the number of downloads of key policy papers by 20% in 2024
  2. Boost email newsletter subscribers by 30% in Q3
  3. Increase the number of petition signatures by 50% in December
Having goals like these gives you something concrete to work towards, which will be extremely useful when planning and prioritising your content.

3. Identify Your Content Pillars

Your content pillars are the key topics that your organisation speaks on. When you’re coming up with your content calendar, you should be using a mixture of these content pillars.
These content pillars will help keep your content fresh and interesting to your readers.
You can then start to group your content ideas depending on the content pillar they relate to. The table below shows a good starting point for putting down your thoughts onto paper.
Content Pillar 1Content Pillar 2Content Pillar 3Content Pillar 4
Idea 1Idea 1Idea 1Idea 1
Idea 2Idea 2 Idea 2 Idea 2

4. Look Out for Seasonal and Recurring Opportunities

There are plenty of awareness days, weeks, and months throughout the year, so go through and check if there are any that relate to your organisation.
If there is any particular event that is especially relevant, it’s a good idea to draw up some detailed content ideas so you can contribute to the conversation and raise awareness of your work.
You may also want to think of other key events that happen regularly and may require some content planning. The main thing that comes to mind for our clients are their annual events, conferences or even the EU elections, so make sure you’ve got those down in your communications calendar.

Creating Your Content Calendar

Now that you’ve got plenty of ideas, it’s time to actually draw up your content calendar. 
The actual look of your calendar will look completely different depending on what your content goals are, but in general, you should focus on the following:
  1. Content Mix: Balance informative (blog posts, infographics), engaging (polls, surveys etc.), and inspirational (testimonials, stories) content types.
  2. Platform Specificity: Tailor content to each platform. Use visuals extensively for Instagram, keep tweets concise, and delve deeper into Facebook.
  3. Schedule Posts: Utilise scheduling tools to publish content at optimal times for increased engagement.

Content Calendar Template and Best Practices

If you want to get things done quickly, there are various free or paid content calendar templates available online. 
But, if you want to create a personalised calendar for your organisation, a simple spreadsheet with columns for “Date,” “Content Type,” “Platform,” “Theme,” and “Notes” is a great starting point. There are even platforms like Notion, Asana, CoSchedule and ClickUp that have FREE content calendar templates that you can build upon.
Browser Windows of Clickup, Asana, CoSchedule and Notion, Project Management and Content Calendar Tools
Remember, creating a content calendar is the easy part. The hardest part is actually sticking to it, but here are some of our tips to make sure your entire team makes use of the calendar you created:
  1. Use colours or icons to categorise content type or platform to make your calendar more visually appealing
  2. Schedule regular reviews with your team to assess content performance, adjust strategies, and address current events
  3. Leave room in your calendar to post about unexpected news or social media trends when they emerge
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of preparing an editorial plan of a year’s worth of content – it’s not as daunting as it sounds! Start by crafting a basic framework, and build upon it.
By planning your content calendar, you’ll be well-equipped to create a consistent and impactful online presence. This will allow you to focus on what matters most:  fulfilling your organisation’s mission!

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