Does your nonprofit have a blog? If not, why not?
I happen to be a huge fan of nonprofit blogging, which is why I’ve put together this quick guide touting a ‘Top Ten’ list of benefits.
What? You say you have a nonprofit newsletter?
They’re not equivalent.
Blogs are fresh, living entities.
Blogs are websites and can serve as the hub of all your content marketing.
Blogs are easily searchable by people looking for what you offer.
- Folks can find your blog through organic search.
- Folks can subscribe to your feed or mailing list.
- Folks can find your blog links in social media.
- Folks can easily share your blog with their friends.
Blogs give you more control over what your constituents read.
Blogs entice people to take a specific action, without overwhelming them with multiple choices.
And unlike social media sites, you own your blog and your subscriber list.
Top 10 Reasons for Nonprofit Blogging
1. You rank higher on search engines.
If your nonprofit can grab a first page Google search result, you’re much more likely to be found. And blogs rate higher on page results than regular websites.
Here’s why: Your blog is updated regularly. Your website may not be. Your e-newsletter certainly isn’t.
If you post to your blog even once a week, you will likely rank higher on Google than you would if you were relying solely on your website. Blog more, and you’ll likely rank even higher.
You want as many people as possible to find you and view your website (which you can link to multiple times in your blog posts), so this is important.
2. You serve up information in digestible portions.
This is important since so many people today suffer from attention deficit.
Folks don’t want to read a lot of articles at one sitting. With a blog, you can tell one compelling story. Your reader can read one compelling story, then call it a day. Less work for everyone. Win/win!
Your best bet here is to tell a story. People are naturally wired to respond to stories, so they’ll pay more attention than they would to an article announcing a new hire, a grant award or the fact that you’ve rebranded.
Stories are relevant. They make people care. They move people to take action.
The problem with most e-newsletters is that, while they may have a story or two, they’re generally replete with other self-promotional stuff – announcements, history, facts, stuff to purchase, appeals for money, and so forth. There may be so much stuff your readers have little interest in, that they fail to even notice the stories. And that’s if they open your e-newsletter at all.
3. You combat shrinking attention span syndrome.
The average adult attention span today is just 8 seconds! I’ve read a lot of studies, and you’re lucky if anyone will spend more than a minute with your e-newsletter. This means multiple articles are going to waste.
Telling your story in a sequence of small installments (i.e., blog posts) makes it easier for your would-be readers to find time to read your story.
Here are questions you should ask yourself:
- How much time do your e-newsletter readers spend with your material?
- Are you tracking it in Google Analytics?
- Are people clicking through on your links?
- Which items get the most click-throughs?
- Are there some areas of content that almost no one shows an interest in?
- What does this tell you about the type of content in which your readers have a genuine interest?
4. You eliminate clutter that depresses readership.
When Penelope Burk first did her ground-breaking studies that led to publication of “Donor-Centered Fundraising,” one of the things she found was that donors didn’t particularly like newsletters. They especially didn’t enjoy those that came on a strict schedule and seemed to be filled with a bunch of irrelevant information. They said, if you must send newsletters, please send a one-pager or just send them when you have something important to say.
Wow! How common sense does that sound?
Yet most nonprofits cling to TMI e-newsletters that a lot of their constituents simply don’t read. Here’s what one respondent to Penelope Burk’s 2016 survey said:
I don’t actually want to know everything that’s going on with my charities of choice.
While it’s tempting to create e-newsletters that have something for everyone (or so you imagine), consider this from your readers’ perspective. Too many articles at once requires readers to work extra hard to find what’s relevant to them.
Here’s another way to think about this. How overwhelming is it when you’re in the cereal aisle at the market, trying to decide which box to pick? It’s the same for your supporters when they try to figure out which article to click on in your e-newsletter!
It’s so much more effective to choose the story you most want people to read, and send it — via blog. This gives you control of what your audience learns and feels, making your online mailing more purposeful.
Plus now your time is no longer being wasted writing stories no one reads.
5. You welcome conversation.
The format of a blog lends itself to two-way dialogue. When you make room for comments you create a form of active involvement, which is generally a prerequisite to ultimate investment. It gets your foot in the door with constituents, making it more likely they’ll move on to deeper forms of engagement.
If you blog about something that evokes a powerful emotion, folks will feel compelled to comment. Or to share your post. Now you’re cooking!
6. You can be super timely.
If a news story breaks that’s related to what you do, you can immediately write up a blog post with your unique perspective on the issue and send it to your blog list. You don’t have to wait for you pre-ordained schedule of a monthly e-newsletter. By then, the news will be stale.
This gives your blog a real-time feel, making it relevant. Your readers want to read it because they know they’re getting up-to-date information they couldn’t get elsewhere.
Plus you can archive past articles and make your blog searchable. You can update posts with new information, as appropriate. This makes your blog useful to folks in an evergreen manner.
7. You can use it for free publicity.
If your content is inspiring or newsworthy, people will share it. When this happens, the press may see it. No need for you to write a press release!
Nonprofit blogging is a way to create your own breaking news, promote it widely on social media and see who picks it up. This is a reason to cultivate influencers so you’ll reach the widest audience possible.
8. You establish yourself as a thought leader.
Nonprofit blogging is the easiest and most effective way to stand out from the crowd and assert expertise as a leader in your industry. You publish your post (where the whole world can find it); then send it via email to your own mailing list (this task can be automated).
By posting quality, informative content on a regular basis, you show you know what you’re talking about and that, in fact, you’re an expert in your niche.
Combined with social media, a blog enables you to reach and communicate with readers who value your content, wherever they may be. A blog on a website, and posted through various social platforms, will initiate and maintain personal relationships with readers who will come to know and trust you.
9. You meet people where they are.
While there is division in many things between younger and older generations, they all use social media. They’re all part of “Generation Connected” (GenC). And blog posts are easily shared on social media.
Blog posts have URLs to which you can link; e-newsletters don’t.
10. You can send more email messages without having to create tons more content.
Think of all the content you create for a newsletter. Much of it never gets read. Instead, choose the content you most want people to read, and send it — via blog. This gives you control of what your audience learns and feels, making your online mailing more purposeful.
Your mailing is also more impactful because it’s respectful of the amount of time a reader will put into reading one email. Since the email is much shorter, people will actually take the time to read the whole thing…especially if you’re a great storyteller.
Do this every other week, or even weekly.
Got that? Instead of creating a massive email newsletter that includes your entire story, not to mention tons of other content most folks have no time to read, consider simply serializing your one compelling story into a number of succinct, related blog articles.
Tell your story over the course of 2, 3 or 4 blog posts each.
Load those posts into your email automation software. This will give you a month or so worth of content, but you won’t have to do any extra work once you’ve written the story and set up the posts.
Now your constituents are reading a lot more of your content. And your time is no longer being wasted writing stories no one reads.
Now you can focus on other aspects of your nonprofit marketing (e.g. e-appeals; donor surveys; social media; donor appreciation) while the email automation software takes care of delivery for the rest of the quarter.
If you’ve got a lot of excuses for not having a nonprofit blog, now’s the time to consider debunking them.
Instead, look at the benefits:
- You’ll rank higher on search engines because you’ll be consistently offering fresh content.
- You’ll increase engagement as more people read your content and look forward to receiving your emails.
- You’ll get away from the over-done nonprofit email newsletter that takes up too much time – yours and your reader’s.
- You’ll better control your marketing message because your subscribers will actually read your content in the order you choose to send it.
- You can send emails more often, staying top of mind with your subscribers without annoying them.
- Your click-through rates will increase because each email contains only one piece of content and/or call to action.
- You’ll establish yourself and stand out as a thought leader.
- You’ll meet people where they are, enabling more people to find you.
- You’ll generate free publicity.
- You can send more email without having to create tons more content.
Your job is to get and keep likely constituents engaged; then move them along the communications continuum – from awareness… to interest… to involvement… and, ultimately, to investment. Blogs are a great tool for turning your content creation and delivery into a well-oiled machine.
Want to learn more about nonprofit blogging?
You may be interested in my Nonprofit Blogging Playbook. A great blog is one of the best investments you can make in acquiring and retaining more donors. Learn how with this 4-volume set that will teach you (1) blog fundamentals; (2) content folks will want to read; (3) how to use your content to engage folks, and (4) how to promote your blog so it builds momentum and drives more potential supporters to your website.
Nonprofit blogging can be a valuable part of your organization’s content marketing and overall fundraising strategy. Does your nonprofit have a blog? Why or why not?
Are you ready to give your donors the content they deserve? Here’s a Donor-Centered Content Marketing worksheet you can use as a template to enhance your nonprofit blogging efforts.