How to Create, Manage and Evolve your Nonprofit Blog


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A blog is an opportunity not only to change static into dynamic, but also discover and share voices from your organization. But what do you need to create, manage, and evolve a nonprofit blog that will both engage your supporters and attract storytellers from within — and possibly outside — your organization?

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How to Create, Manage and Evolve your Nonprofit Blog

  1. 1. How to Create, Manage andEvolve Your Nonprofit BlogNonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) webinarMarch 28, 2012Roger Burks, Co-Founder of Pictographers@loudmind
  2. 2. Introduction Roger Burks Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps
  3. 3. The Mercy Corps Blog From May 2009-August 2011: • 1,090 blog entries (about 39 blog entries per month) • 265 bloggers • 42 countries • I wrote 127 blog entries • Other communications staff wrote 107 blog entries • The other 856 blog entries (79%) came from folks like program officers, health workers and engineers
  4. 4. Five truths to get started
  5. 5. Truth #1Blogs are highly personal.
  6. 6. Truth #2Organizations are made ofpeople.
  7. 7. Truth #3People tell stories.
  8. 8. Truth #4Everyone in your organizationexperiences it differently.
  9. 9. Truth #5Your organization has allkinds of stories to tell.
  10. 10. Creating your organization’s blog
  11. 11. Think of it this wayCreating a blog should be anopportunity, not an obligation.The most compelling blogs are born andgrow from true curiosity, enthusiasm andexploration.
  12. 12. Determine your blog’s focusIdentify your blog’s purpose in atagline, phrase, sentence or titleThis focuses your content, guides yourwriters and lets readers know what yourblog’s about.
  13. 13. Examples of nonprofit blog taglinesMercy Corps: “A daily look into the work, thoughts andideas of our team around the world”International Rescue Committee: “Every day, IRChumanitarian aid workers are rescuing lives. Here, they offera glimpse of their experiences, the challenges they face andthe courageous people they meet by sharing videos, photosand stories.”World Concern: “As an organization, we strive to betransparent and effective in how we help; this blog is a lensinto our work.”
  14. 14. Determine your core contributorsCome up with a list of 5-10people that you think would begreat bloggersMake this a “wish list” – don’t assumethey’ll say “no” before you even ask them.
  15. 15. Determine your editorial structureOne possible approach: the“network news” model AnchorReporter Reporter Reporter ReporterSpecialist Specialist Specialist Specialist Specialist Specialist
  16. 16. Give credit where it’s due…and then someUse author bylines that arelinked to feature-rich vanitypagesGive your authors the chance to customizetheir vanity pages with photos andbiographical information. Compile all theirpublished blog entries here as well.
  17. 17. Give credit where it’s due…and then some
  18. 18. Give your readers – and staff – a way to shareInclude social media links –Facebook, Twitter and email atthe very least – on every entrySharing your organization’s blog entries isan easy way people can take action byspreading the word and showing support.Also offer the chance to subscribe.
  19. 19. Give your readers – and staff – a way to share
  20. 20. How often will you update your blog?Establish an ambitious butrealistic scheduleLike any project, blogs benefit fromdeadlines. Think about publishing on thesame days each week – that will establishconsistency for colleagues and readers.
  21. 21. Starting off strong and confidentGame-plan your blog’s first 12-15 entriesDon’t let a lack of content stall your blogbefore it gets started. Work withcollaborators to stockpile initial blogentries, creating a good foundation.
  22. 22. Get the word outAnnounce your organization’snew blog to the worldSend an email to your staff. Send anotheremail to your supporters. Get it out insocial media. Contact your local newsoutlets.
  23. 23. Managing your organization’s blog
  24. 24. And we mean to go on and on and on and onYou are thechampions, myfriends.
  25. 25. Keep everyone informedSend regular email updates onblog entries posted, new bloggersand things you need for the blogA once-monthly email can go a long waytoward building a bloggingcommunity, including recognizing regularbloggers and encouraging new bloggers tocontribute.
  26. 26. Meet regularly with key collaboratorsTake time to informally talk overcoffee, lunch or drinks with yourcore blog contributorsIt’s important to keep nurturing the core ofyour community, touching base tobrainstorm, share ideas and suggestimprovements.
  27. 27. Offer blog training opportunitiesA little bit of training goes a longway in growing your roster ofbloggersConsider holding a half- or full-dayworkshop for your colleagues on topicssuch as writing, photography and video.These newfound skills and confidence willmake your blog stronger.
  28. 28. Be a good editor – but not too goodEdit blog entries for clarity andgrammar, but not for style orvoiceA blog’s strength is the personality of itsauthors. Work hard to preserve andamplify different voices by not trying to“organizationalize” style and substance.
  29. 29. Step up when things get slowYou may have to write moreentries or more assertively solicitcontent to fill gapsAs the blog champion, you serve manyroles: managing editor, head writer,community leader and mentor. All theseroles are important to your blog’s success.
  30. 30. Be generous and proactive with blog contentAnticipate and meet marketingand communications needs withblog entriesYour blog can power your agency’s socialmedia, but that’s not all. It’s alsoimportant in email appeals, advocacycampaigns, major donor outreach andmore.
  31. 31. Evolving your organization’s blog
  32. 32. A changing blog is a sustainable blog• Reach out to clients and donors to writestories• Immediately engage new colleagues aspotential bloggers• Ask traveling colleagues to blog• Keep mentoring and offering constructivefeedback• Give someone else the reins for a while• Always be open to suggestions and ideas
  33. 33. A blog is personal – let colleagues make it their ownImagesby Jameson Gadzirai (reprinted from the Mercy Corps Blog)There areImages painted right in the core of your mind,No camera can take, nor video rewind;The sight of a young man carrying a new born calf in his handsTrudging open plains, mother cow in tow, lowing in reverenceCattle herders painting their skin grey,Dancing the night away naked,because the sun is awaySiblings holding hands and walking in the bright sun,Herding goats and sheep, this their funThe sound of laughter from cattle herders huddled around a fire,Cows and bulls surrounding them, safe because of their mastersImages of people gyrating and ululating;Drumbeats on a Sunday evening;Married with voices of people a-singing,Homage to the One that created all things Living!Pictures of the hopes and celebrations of a life so vibrantThese, the images one revels in,Forever imprinted on the minds of those looking in.
  34. 34. A variety of stories to capture a variety of experiencesSome ideas for content you can featureon your blog:Beneficiary or client story Autobiographical pieceField visit Personal reflectionStaff profile/interview Program updateNews update Emergency updatePhoto essay Photo with long captionAudio slideshow Video with long captionRough video Stand-up videoPolished short-form video Polished long-form videoVideo interview Event- or campaign-driven videoWritten travelogue Technically-focused piecePoem Upcoming event
  35. 35. Helpful tips borrowed from the storytelling approachFour mantras toremember:• Authenticity, not polish• Encouragement, not pressure• Quality, not quantity• Show, don’t tell
  36. 36. Thank you!Roger Burks Email: Web: Twitter: @loudmind
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