While social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are getting all of the attention now, one of the original social media tools – blogging – still deserves serious consideration by nonprofits who want to do more to connect with current and future supporters. Good blogging embraces the best of the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 worlds: You have the space to say what you want to say and when you want to say it (as with your Web 1.0 website), but in a way that promotes conversation and sharing (like Web 2.0 social media).
Is blogging a good choice for your nonprofit? Here are five reasons why you should start blogging, and five reasons why you shouldn’t.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Blog
1. You need a better way to share the small stuff. You have many wonderful little anecdotes that your supporters would love to hear. You also run across cool resources and surprising statistics all the time, but none of it really ranks as “newsletter worthy” because they are too short. Blogs are perfect for 50-word updates.
2. You want to take people behind the scenes. This is especially important for organizations that work in places people either can’t get to easily on their own (e.g., overseas or restricted areas like hospital wards or prisons) or are reluctant to visit, even if they could (e.g., the “bad part” of town). For your supporters to really appreciate what you do, they need to understand where you do it. Blogging lets you take them there by giving you a platform to share stories and photos over time, creating an ongoing narrative, post by post, all in one easily accessible place.
3. You need a better way to organize the resources you have available. If you see yourself as a service, training, or resource provider, you probably have a ton of information on your website that is actually pretty tough for people to find. One of the beautiful things about blogging is that categories and tags are a natural part of the software, so you can easily group items in various ways, making it easier for your readers to find them.
4. You need to react quickly. If your organization responds to breaking news, I don’t see how you can be effective online without a blog — or without the functional equivalent built into your website (i.e. some other kind of RSS-producing “news” section). Blogging is one of the quickest and best ways to get your perspective into conversations happening right now.
5. You need to incubate content for bigger publications. If you produce reports, white papers, books, etc., then a blog is perfect for your organization. It lets you publish bits and pieces as you create them and get comments from others who care about your issues. Then it’s all right there when you are ready to create a larger publication.
5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Blog
While these are all good reasons to blog, there are some equally good reasons not to.
1. Because transparency is too unnerving. Blogging is about sharing. If the idea of strangers getting a peek into your work and commenting on it is too unnerving, then blogging may not be a good choice.
2. Because writing in a personal tone of voice is uncomfortable. Good blog writing is direct, conversational, and personal. If you are only comfortable writing as “the organization” rather than as a person working at the organization, then you’ll likely find blogging uncomfortable.
3. Because criticism is too painful. If you only want to hear from people who agree with you, blogging is not for you. In my opinion, you can’t turn off comments and still call what you are doing blogging. Moderate comments, yes, but don’t delete comments just because they are critical. If the thought of having to defend your positions is a public forum pains you, blogging may not be right for you.
4. Because you can’t make the time. Because of the chronological nature of blogging, people pay attention to how often you post. While you’ll find lots of conflicting advice about posting frequency, I believe that if you can’t post at least once a week, blogging probably isn’t for you.
5. Because you can’t articulate the value of your blog. If you don’t know how your blog fits into your nonprofit marketing strategy and what you want to accomplish with it, then don’t do it.
The nonprofit sector is blessed with an active and diverse blogging community. Will you be a part of it?
by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com and author of “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause.”