Implementing and maintaining a successful blog may be the most critical aspect of your online fundraising efforts. There are many reasons a nonprofit should host a blog. For fundraising, there are a few basic reasons why blogging makes sense:
- Blog readers are an ideal audience. The typical blog reader is young, wealthy, active, and influential. Blog readers are 11% more likely than the average Internet user to have incomes of or greater than $75,000. (Clickz.com)
- Continuous communications leads to continuous donation. Blogs offer the element of human interaction and constant communication needed to truly drive home your organization’s goals and objectives. Staff members will be more informed and motivated, and supporters will become lively, engaged, and ready to contribute.
- Search engines love blogs. This advantage might not contribute to your fundraising efforts directly, but if potential supporters cannot find your website or blog, there is little chance they will donate. Search engines favour websites with constantly updated content, and good blogs are known to attract a high number of inbound links.
Nine tips to blog your way to fundraising success
1. Read as many blogs as possible. Keeping yourself updated on the happenings in the nonprofit world is critical to writing great, cutting-edge blog content. Be sure to set up a feed aggregator, also known as a feed reader, news reader, or news aggregator. These applications collect new syndicated web content, and display it in a consolidated layout within a single browser display. Aggregators eliminate the time it takes to check your favorite blogs for updated content, which creates more time for reading. Bloglines and Google Reader are two popular aggregators. If you don’t have time to regularly read blogs, listen to podcasts. You may also consider getting an RSS-narrator. RSS-narrators convert text blogs into audio files that can be burned onto a disk, or placed on an iPod to listen to on the way to work, while exercising, etc. TalkingNews is currently the only RSS-narrator available.
2. Blog often and with variety. The only way to gain a steady reader base is to blog regularly. The best blogs update their content daily and some update content several times a day.
Maintaining a steady reader base requires you to provide a variety of consistently good content. The best nonprofit blogs consist of a mix of editorials on daily news stories covering issues pertaining to your organization or cause, balanced with personal and organizational experiences, references and insight on top news stories, and references to other blogs, organizations, or topics of interest. Blog about conferences you attend, trips your organization takes, and projects your nonprofit is working on. Remember to always take pictures or video during your outings and include them in your blog. Stand out by covering nonprofit-related topics from a different angle than other nonprofits. Create a viral effect by always providing opinions on top stories and ongoing news issues that nonprofits might be interested in. Who knows, by creating enough buzz around a certain issues, you might even create your own media coverage.
3. Use tracking software and analyze. Find out how many people are visiting your blogs and which ones generate the most traffic. You should recreate titles and content that receive many views. The tracking software can also tell you how people are hearing about your blog. For example, are they finding your blog through Digg, Google, etc.? It can give you great insight on your viewers and many other marketing hits if you are creative. Feedburner is a great tracking tool.
4. Reach out to other bloggers. Ask your supporters if they maintain blogs on their site and would be willing to blog about your cause. Also, when distributing press releases, search blog directories such as Technorati or Bloghub to find blogs related to your cause and send them a press release. Not only will other bloggers help you spread the word about your cause, they can also help raise money to support it by adding a charity badge to their blog post. A charity badge is a small widget that often includes a picture, brief description of the organization, and a link to where you can make a donation. The great thing about charity badges is they can be easily picked up and posted by other blogs and websites by simply clicking "get this badge". Charity badges present a wealth of viral fundraising opportunities, especially when coupled with social networking efforts. ChipIn and Network for Good both offer free charity badge creation.
5. Always encourage comments and discussion. Providing food for thought and then leaving topics open for lengthy commenting and discussion is one of the best ways to increase the popularity of your blog. Comments left on your blog not only create additional information for your readers, but also increase the commenter’s interest in your blog and cause. They may become more likely to donate to your cause, may become a valuable guest blogger in the future, and are more likely to link to your blog from their site. The more sense of conversation you can inflict into your blog posts, the more quickly your audience will grow.
6. Promote your RSS feed. Your blog should feature an RSS feed. RSS stands for really simple syndication. This technology allows readers to receive automatic updates when you post a new blog entry. Keeping supporters, guest bloggers, and staff updated on news throughout your organization will give them the opportunity to promote your cause for you. Mention your RSS feed often, and display it as frequently as possible. Go to great lengths to make it easy for your readers to sign up to receive RSS feeds from your blog.
7. Welcome guest bloggers. Be selective when choosing guest bloggers (as the quality of your blog is at stake), but having guests blog on your site regularly can be advantageous. Guest bloggers help your organization by enabling someone else to provide content. They also add variety and freshness to your blog by introducing new topics or viewpoints. Additionally, most guest bloggers will be flattered when you ask them to guest blog and become a valuable advocate for your blog and organization. On the other side of the coin, never turn down a request to guest blog on another nonprofit’s site. Guest blogging provides a great opportunity to increase readership for your own blog, and creates a valuable partnership with the organization you blog for.
8. Cross reference between other organizations’ blogs. Include other organization’s blogs in your blog roll, comment on their blogs regularly, and provide references to their blogs within your own blog. Choose organizations you want to connect with and provide your reflections on topics they have covered. Doing these things will increase awareness and create a broad based movement toward your cause. It will also help create a network of organizations that will regularly post your blog on their blog, blog about your organization, and provide additional guest bloggers. Commenting on and reposting blogs covering key topics is especially important. Doing this will motivate readers on topics that need the most attention, while providing insight and support to the organizations in your network.
9. Optimize viral opportunities. Always add the “e-mail this” icon at the bottom of your blogs. Also, some submission sites such as Technorati and del.icio.us will allow you to ‘ping’ them, which means they get an automatic update when you post a new blog. It’s always good to have your latest blogs in their records. Add a tag term so your blog will pop up if someone searches for the term, and place your tags at the bottom of your blog posts to direct readers to the search terms you are targeting.
Taylor can be reached at email@example.com and Lance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted with permission from TicketPrinting.com.