Posted April 5, 2006

A free resource for nonprofit organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations,
public sector organizations, and other mission-based agencies

Jayne Cravens,

For Nonprofits Considering Their Own Podcasts
Why It's Worth Exploring, & Content Suggestions

Want to hear this page as a podcast? Just download this mp3 file and listen to me chatter for seven minutes and 20 seconds. I speak slowly, for those of you who are non-native English speakers. The file is 3.3 MB.

The information below is a transcript of this podcast:

Begin Podcast

Hi, this is Jayne Cravens. And what you are listening to, right now, is a podcast. It was produced on April 12, 2006. A podcast is... well, it's just an audio file, and you make the file available for others to listen to, usually via your web site. They download the file and listen to it via a computer or a portable audio player, such as an iPod. If you are listening to this, then you already have all that you need to listen to a podcast: a computer with internet access and a sound card, as well as software that can play audio files.

Many individuals are using podcasts to create their own radio programs, featuring music, political views, sports commentary, their own poetry, their own singing, or interviews with friends and family. But what about nonprofits and NGOs? Do podcasts really have any value for them?

Yes. But don't get too caught up in the podcast hype. Podcasts are just another way for a nonprofit to get its message out.

A nonprofit organization can use a podcast to:

If you are going to start producing podcasts, then think of ways to do so strategically -- don't record speeches just for the sake of having a podcast. Think about how you want your audience to find value in your podcasts. How will the podcast support your organization's mission? How will the content be relevent to your target audience? And who IS your target audience for a podcast? You have to answer all these questions before you start producing broadcasts, if you want those broadcasts to be successful.

One of the things to keep in mind is that most people listen to podcasts while doing other things -- that means their full attention probably will NOT be on what you are saying. So, think about repeating your message during the podcast, and reinforce the message from your podcast in other ways: via your web site, via your newsletter, at face-to-face events, and so forth.

You also need to have clear, clean audio, and very understandable voices. Encourage people participating in a podcast to speak slowly and to enunciate clearly -- and to practice. It's okay to rehearse a podcast! Have scripts, or, at least written prompts, to reduce long silences and repeated use of words like "you know". It's fine to be casual and spontaneous, but no one likes to listen to dead air or unintelligible speech. Think about why some radio interviews sound great, and some flounder -- the same is true of podcasts.

Also, you need to have a transcript of your podcasts available on your web site. The transcript is for those who cannot listen to such because of a hearing impairment or because they lack the equipment... or because they simply don't really like podcasts and won't get your message unless you provide a text version.

Once you are podcasting, you need to survey your target audience. Are they listening? When are they listening? Why are they listening? What have they liked? What have they not liked? Do they have recommendations for your podcast? Without soliciting and measuring your feedback, you might as well be talking to the air.

Before creating your own podcast, listen to podcasts or radio interviews, and think about what you like and don't like about them. You need to understand things from the listener's perspective. And think realistically about how often your organization can produce a podcast. I'm going to repeat that -- think realistically about how often your organization can produce a podcast. You need to brainstorm possible subjects, and set dates for recording and broadcast. And open up the possibility of producing a broadcast to ALL your staff and volunteers -- don't limit the producers to only your marketing staff.

To record a podcast, you need software on your computer that allows you to record audio files, and a microphone. For this, my first podcast, I'm using a free program called Audacity, that I think I got when I bought an adapter for my headset -- I think it came with the adapter. You can download Audacity for free. It's available for both Macs and IBM/Clone PCs. Or, if you have a newer computer, you probably have software already loaded on your machine that will allow you to record an audio file and save it as an MP3.

And, by the way, I'm using an older Macintosh computer, a lime iBook running system 9.2.2 -- just another example of how you don't need the latest and greatest software and hardware to be "cutting edge."

You really do NOT have to be a tech whiz to produce a podcast -- I threw together the podcast you are listening to now in about an hour -- however, thinking through and writing the content took MUCH longer.

Now, this obviously was not the most exciting podcast in the world. There's a slight buzz in the background from my iBook, and I have no background music or sound effects or special guest stars. You are going to hear much, much better ones as you start sampling other podcasts for yourself. The point of this wasn't to wow you, but to help you realize that producing a podcast really isn't that difficult. If I can do it, you can do it. The problem isn't so much the technology as the content -- people are going to listen to your podcasts only if you offer them something really worth listening to.

For more tips on podcasting for nonprofits, including very detailed tips on software options, broadcast options, encoding your files, publicizing your podcast, allowing others to broadcast your podcast, and so forth, visit -- that's -- and look for an article called "Podcasting: A New Voice on the Net Create your own digital audio broadcasts". It's by Michael Gowan, and it provides all of the many techy details about podcasting that I don't.

And you can read the transcript of this podcast at That's

This is Jayne Cravens, recording from outside Bonn, Germany. Thanks for listening. Auf Wiedersehen.

end of podcast

I'm not in Bonn, Germany anymore. I recorded this blog back in 2006. Now, I'm in Oregon. I haven't felt compelled to create other podcasts, mostly because I rarely listen to them myself, and when I do - when I'm cleaning my house, am on mass transit or on an airplane - I'm rarely in the mood for a podcast related to communications or volunteerism (I prefer Nerdist and This American Life). But some people do really love listening to work-related podcasts. I do have another work-related podcast: the audio version of my guest article for the Energize, Inc. HotTopic: "Letting Fear Prevent Volunteer Involvement is Too Risky" (or you can read it, if you prefer).

I also have a YouTube channel, which is much more fun.

Also see:

See more resources re: Outreach & Engagement, With and Without Technology

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