18 Oct 7 Ways Blogging Can Benefit Your Nonprofit
Managing any kind of organization or business today comes with the responsibility of managing some form of interactive Web presence. The same holds true for nonprofit organizations. Whatever the purpose of your group, and no matter the size, people want to know how your mission is being implemented.
At both the national and the local/regional level, community members follow the progress of nonprofit campaigns. People want to see their own personal missions grow, and, if they donate, they enjoy seeing the ways their money goes to benefit the world and community around them.
Communicating the nonprofit’s mission, work and successes can take a variety of forms. An obvious route is with updates on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These sites, however, are built for typically short posts and quick updates.
If you really want to maintain a following, implementing and managing a blog for your organization better allows you the opportunity to tell a long-form story. Posting to a blog also allows you to generate more content that can then be shared via social-media platforms.
If you’re interested in growing your organization’s online personality, then check out these seven ways running a blog can benefit your nonprofit.
1. Directing online search traffic to your website
When people search for very specific details, most online search engines will provide fairly specific results. For instance, if you search for a grocery store in your exact neighborhood, you’re likely to quickly find the address of the grocery store located nearest to you.
But what happens on search engines when you look up more vague information? Search engines narrow down the specifics and then look for websites that contain similar words and phrases to the ones used in the search bar. If your nonprofit has an operational blog, your website is more likely to appear in multiple search options, including ones that weren’t searches for your organization.
For example, if you blog regularly about a warm coat drive your organization is managing, then words and phrases like “homelessness,” “in need,” “low-income” and simply “coat drive” might be frequently used. A person with extra coats they’d like to donate could search for a local coat drive in their city and would quickly find your organization. And because you’re utilizing fleshed-out blog posts, people searching for ways to be an advocate for low-income folks or the homeless would also stumble upon your organization. In short, blogs provide you with more keywords, increasing the odds that your nonprofit will be found online.
2. Telling a story that inspires
Everybody loves a good underdog story, and nonprofits are no stranger to struggle. Finding funding for a social, environmental or community issue is not an easy task. For those who care about your particular issue or are personally impacted by it, following along with your fights and feats can be an inspiration.
People will follow your blog for the same reason they watch movies and read books — they want to be captivated by your work. If people know your nonprofit exists, it’s probably because they benefit from its services. For these people, the story played out through a blog gives them tally marks, achievements to celebrate, and a future to look toward. For those people who aren’t familiar with your group’s work, or are just becoming aware of it, a blog can provide them with background information, including a history, timeline and structure.
3. Creating a sense of activity
A static Web page is a good place to house mission statements, contact information and FAQs, but on many sites the main content doesn’t typically change. And while a social-media presence allows for more frequent updates, as noted earlier these posts tend to work best as small blurbs.
When you manage a blog featuring lengthier content and pictures, though, you provide your audience with a more accurate impression of exactly how much work your organization is doing. A Facebook status might say “Hey! We’re out here today collecting coats from noon to 3 pm, come see us!” But a blog post can share the experience of how many people came to drop off coats, the folks who told you stories about how they once needed a coat and now always give back, and other similar details. This allows your following to not only know you that your group is still in operation, but also recognize that it’s on the front lines, is engaged on a regular basis, and is having a meaningful impact on your community.
4. Generating volunteers
The previous three benefits naturally create a fourth – the desire to volunteer. Once a person has discovered your organization and then learned its history and its current endeavors, they’re likely invested enough in your work to want to be involved. Very infrequently do people keep ongoing tabs on a nonprofit organization and never engage, whether in person or online.
With an operational blog, volunteering can even be as simple as helping a post gain more traction. If any of your followers manage their own blogs or social-media pages, your posts could end up being featured across various online platforms they’re connected with — simply by asking people to share your content. Of course, you can always let people know about in-person volunteer opportunities on a blog, as well.
5. Providing a space to talk to your followers
One of the best features about an online presence is the ability to carry on conversations with your followers without the hassle of playing phone tag or dealing with snail mail. Online communication is instant when you want it to be, and slower when you need it to be.
The most exciting part about communication through a blog, specifically, is the ability to create permanent spaces to celebrate your volunteers. Once you’ve captivated your community, gained them as a follower, and then engaged them through volunteer work, it’s time to thank them! A blog offers a long-term link that your volunteers can hang onto and share with other people. If a person sees a picture of themselves on a volunteer thank-you page that features details about their work and time with you, these volunteers will not only feel special to your organization, but they’ll likely share it so their friends and family will get involved as well.
6. Creating an interactive environment
A blog allows you to share appreciation for your active members, but it also provides a place for your followers to interact with you. People can always comment on Facebook posts, but on a blog you’re much more likely to receive personal questions and generate inter-community discussions.
When you post a blog about your upcoming coat drive, for instance, people can comment with suggestions about new pickup locations you might not have considered. Once that location is suggested, another person in that neighborhood can see it and offer their help, too. Comment sections help build a sense of community among your followers while also allowing them more personal online interaction with your organization.
7. Broadening your audience
Because keywords in blogs show up in multiple searches and they help build a more active following, more people will know who you are. This is one of the most compelling reasons to manage and operate a blog. Blogs take time to maintain, but if you keep up with posts on a regular basis, more and more people will learn about your nonprofit’s work.
Photo credit: David Meier / picography.co