Archive for May, 2008

Blog for a cause

With this post, my first experience with blogging has ended. Although I was reluctant, I have truly learned a lot from the experience.

I wanted to use this blog to help students and young professionals learn more about working at non-profit organization. But as a side benefit I learned a lot about working at a non-profit. Through my posts and background research, I have developed a lot of new ideas that I can’t wait to try out.

The one key thing I learned this semester was to not be afraid of social media. I understood being on the receiving end, but actually producing it was intimidating. However, after hands-on practice, I not only know how to work social media, I know how it can benefit an organization.

For non-profits, especially, social media can be a cheap and effective tool to connect with audiences. Social media encompasses a wide variety of mediums, but for my last post, I want to talk specifically about the blog.

For many non-profits, blogs seem a little mysterious. However, I’m here to tell you, you can do it and see results. I’ve eliminated some work for you by dispelling the common reasons that hold organizations back from blogging.

We don’t have the resources
Staff’s time is the biggest consideration. To have a successful blog, an organization must keep it up to date. Posts must be weekly at a minimum. With short staffs and long to-do-lists this can be a challenge.

One great thing about blogs is brevity. Readers expect short posts. Less than 500 words is ideal. A good writer can pound out an insightful, brief post in a half an hour.

Also, creating and maintaining one is absolutely free through Web sites like WordPress and Blogspot.

Who will write it?
It can be a difficult to choose an appropriate voice for a blog. Whether it’s someone from the PR staff or the CEO, a blogger must have something unique and insightful to say.

If your CEO is swamped but has good ideas, he or she doesn’t actually have to write the posts. However, be careful to keep him or her actively involved in the conceptualization. You never want to project a blog to be something it’s not.

If you’re short staffed, do a team blog. Have different people within the organization take turns to lighten the load. Or another great idea is to have a volunteer blogger. For a great example of this, visit Urban Sprouts’ blog.

Opens up sensitive subjects
A blog must have an authentic voice, not a marketing tone. An avid blogger could peel off the glossy façade of an organization and open up some sore subjects. A blog should also encourage conversation, which could be some negative backlash.

Just remember people prefer reality. Being real about an organization is much more interesting and engaging than parlaying the lasted marketing materials. Honesty encourages a sense of being talked to instead of talked at.

Also, negative doesn’t have to be bad. Blogs are a good place to air out differences. Since it is two-way communication, the organization has an immediate chance to respond to any negative comment. And if a comment is just outrageous, the organization can block it or remove it altogether.

We don’t have anything to talk about
Blogs need to have an interesting topic designed for a specific audience. Non-profits have many audiences with different needs and wants. The issue really is more like we have too much to say.

One blog can’t solve all your communication issues. They need to be targeted. For ideas on what type of information makes a good blog topic, read 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs.

Now that your negative list is shorter and your positive list longer, reconsider what a blog can do for your organization. A real conversation can have amazing effects on your organization.

Before I go, I’d just like to thank all of you who have read my blog. I have tossed around the idea of continuing it after class is over and haven’t reached a final verdict. It is fun though. All of your comments, on and off line, have been great. Thank you!