Why and how should your nonprofit blog?
By posting regular blog entries, savvy nonprofits keep their advocates engaged and their website content current. Writing blog entries for your organization’s cause on a consistent basis might seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be.
Your organization’s mission and marketing strategy should determine your blog’s overall focus and frequency. Follow these guidelines for writing manageable, engaging blog posts that will drive traffic to your website and get your cause noticed.
- SUBJECT MATTER
Vary the focus of your blog’s subject matter. Traditionally, blog entries provide written information and stories about a range of subjects related to your organization’s work.
Possible subjects for blog posts:
- Report on current news about your organization.
- Recap details about any of your organization’s recent events or activities.
- Report on your impact through a program or over a specific time period.
- Feature a volunteer, client, board member, stakeholder, or funder.
- Spotlight a new or existing program.
- Summarize case studies.
- Celebrate milestones or goals achieved.
- Create a blog series around a theme: volunteering, giving, a holiday, or a national awareness day, week, or month related to your cause.
- CONTENT TYPE
Keep in mind that blog posts don’t always need to depend on written text. Entries may use other types of content to inform about and promote your cause.
Alternative types of content for blog posts:
- Guides and Checklists
- Book Reviews
- Link Pages and Resources
- How To’s and Tutorials
- Guest Posts
- STRUCTURE AND LENGTH
The subject of a blog should influence its length. On the web, though, people scan rather than read information, so shorter is best. By shorter, I mean from 300 to 700 words (or approximately 8 – 11 well-focused paragraphs). This blog about blogging is 635 words and uses 11 paragraphs with 3 bulleted lists. Blog posts in the 300-word range might be quick reports about an event. Other blogs, where you’re telling a story or sharing more in-depth information, may be longer (1,000 words max). Just be sure the subject matter justifies the length.
To help readers easily scan your blog:
- Chunk succinct text into one topic per paragraph.
- Write logical headings per paragraph or section.
- Use white space and bulleted lists when possible.
- Bold or italicize keywords and phrases (caution: don’t overdo).
- FREQUENCY AND VALUE
Post at least twice a month (approximately every other week). Don’t worry if some months you don’t meet your frequency goal. Simply get back on track the next month—or reassess your organization’s blog plan.
Over time, if you keep your blog posts manageable, asking various staff members and stakeholders to write for your cause, you can build a valuable blog that documents the people, accomplishments, and history of your organization.
Assign one staff member to manage your organization’s blog. This person should understand your organization’s voice, brand, and mission. In conversation with your executive staff, she or he can establish a process for organizing, writing, editing, and regularly posting blog entries. This staff member doesn’t need to write all the blog posts.
In fact, asking other staff or board members and stakeholders (even satisfied clients) to write blog entries can (a) keep them personally engaged in your cause and (b) attract new supporters as you and your writers share blog entries through email messages and on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
When you include multimedia, make sure images are high enough resolution (at least 72 dpi for the web). Pairing an eye-catching image, a well-crafted infographic, or a brief video with concise copy increases the likelihood of someone reading (and sharing) your organization’s blog.
Likewise, low res images can turn web visitors off—or even undermine your organization’s credibility. Donors are more likely to give to organizations with blogs and websites that reflect a commitment to excellence.