Blogs for Nonprofits

“Blog” is a general term used to describe a platform where regular articles or updates are posted. They typically fall somewhere between a journal and an editorial piece.

Pros and Cons

Creating blog content, while time consuming, can be incredibly rewarding. Blogging is a great way to provide your community with in-depth insight into your nonprofit’s work. Since posts are expected to be longer than those found on other social media platforms, they are effective in creating clear storylines for visitors interested in learning more about what you do.

The topics you cover can help drive search traffic to your organization’s website. The more active you are on your blog, the more often your nonprofit’s page will show up in general keyword searches.

Blogging is also a great way to establish your organization’s authority. By distinguishing your blog as a reliable resource, you’ll encourage repeat visitors. Additionally, if readers are finding value in your blog, they’re more likely to share posts with their personal networks or link to it from their social media platforms, driving more traffic to your sites.

Blogs require a significant commitment to generating thoughtful content. Some organizations designate one staff member to all blogging, a good strategy if posts need to have consistent style and tone. Other organizations make their blog a team effort, distributing work so no one person is overwhelmed and allowing staff with different skills to share areas of expertise.

Set-up

There are a wide range of blogging platforms, and choosing one can seem daunting.

blog chartThere are a number of sites that offer blog comparisons, so that you can find the platform that best fits your nonprofit’s needs: Mashable, PC Mag, Spark Plug Digital, and Top Ten Reviews. We have outlined two of the most popular sites below.

Some questions to keep in mind while you’re picking a blogging site: Are you willing to pay for a premium blog platform? How much control over the customization of the site do you want to have? Do you want access to advanced analytics? What type of content will you be posting?

Tumblr

blog2(Above) Example of a Tumblr blog

Tumblr has more than 420 million users, the majority of which are under 35 years old and college educated. Users tend to browse and linger on the site, which will give your nonprofit better odds of being discovered organically. The platform has an informal atmosphere. Short posts that feature images or GIFs work best. There are a number of themes you can choose from to customize your blog, and if you know some HTML basics, making additional tweaks is quite easy.

WordPress

blog33(Above) Example of a WordPress blog

WordPress is probably the most popular professional blogging tool. In fact, 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs are managed with WordPress. Visitors are willing to read longer posts on WordPress than they are on Tumblr. This free platform also allows for a reasonable amount of customization. Users can choose the theme color, layout, and editing page URLs. To get the most out of WordPress, users cannot be afraid of digging into the back-end of the site or of using plug-ins, a great way to get additional features that may not be available directly through WordPress. If that sounds slightly daunting, there are plenty of great tutorials to get you started.

Content

The ideal number of new blog posts varies based on the size of your nonprofit. For smaller organizations, more than 11 posts per month saw the biggest boost in traffic to their site. Using multimedia elements (e.g. images, videos, charts) helps break up posts heavy with text.

blog tumblr

Personal stories do well on blogging platforms. Use your posts as a way to put a face to the people you employ, the work they do, and the people they serve.

Make sure you’re blogging about topics that you can authoritatively speak on. While not all of your content has to be specifically related to your nonprofit, try to keep your posts relevant to your field.

Tagging posts with keywords will help ensure your content is discovered by browsers. WordPress and Tumblr both have tagging features to get your posts in front of people interested in specific topics. Make sure the terms you use are not too broad or too specific.

blog1

How to Measure Success

Your organization’s definition of success will depend on what your goals are. Why are you blogging?

  • Are you hoping to boost your volunteer numbers or increase donations? Looking at newsletter sign-ups and search rankings might be most helpful.
  • Are you hoping to become a resource? You might measure success based on how many people share or link to your content.
  • Are you trying to build a community and create a conversation? Then you may measure success by how many comments your posts get and how many repeat visitors you see.

The amount of analytics capabilities your blog has will depend on which platform your nonprofit decides to use. WordPress offers site statistics that include daily page views and the geographic location where your visitors are from. If your goal is to increase readership or extend your reach, those can be good tools for measuring how well your blog is doing.

WP1

If you’d like deeper insights into your traffic, such as which platforms are driving the most visitors to your site or how long people spend on particular pages, you might consider installing Google Analytics in your WordPress.

On Tumblr, different themes have varying back-end offerings. If you’d like to connect Google Analytics, Tumblr has instructions for that process.

If you want even more data on your blog’s activity, companies like Curalate, Simply Measured, and Union Metrics measurement tools. Monitor the analytics to see what content is most popular and what the most effective methods of message amplification are.