OK, the decision is made in your non-profit organisation: the powers-to-be have given you the green light to start a blog. Or you made up your mind and you will start blogging no matter what anyone says.
1. Either think about it or just do it.
There are two schools of thought: “Jump” or “Think and then jump”. That is an easy choice. Or not?
You can not blog about everything under the sky. Somewhere, you have to define your topic as the starting point. The art is not to be too restrictive, but also not too broad. Broad topic blogs are not very successful in creating a loyal readership. Too specific topic might lack a critical mass of those interested in it.
A real life I started as an eBook: I wanted to publish the stories I had written over the year. After a while, I thought to also integrate random rumbles of things that happened in my everyday’s life, which in fact, are also small stories. Then I added comments on news articles I found interesting. Later, I added several features just as ‘Pictures of the Day’ and ‘Links of the Week’. I followed suggestions of readers and checked my web statistics for the kind of posts the public found interesting to choose the direction the blog would follow.
I had an idea to start with, but over the months and years that followed, the blog started to leads its own way. Overall, the topic remained the same: the blog was about the things that crossed my path. About things that interested me: travel, aid work, sailing, adventure.
You might not have that liberty of choice, if you work for an organisation. Somewhere your blog needs to fulfil a role within the overall goals of your organisation. That by itself already focuses the scope of your blog.
Here are some ideas to define this starting point, as a non-profit organisation, a bit better:
2. Project blogs
Each organisation has a multitude of running projects. Let your project staff post their accomplishments, their struggles, their ideas. Let them put up pictures, videos and stories. Remember, you are working on a blog: the quality of the pictures and video does not have to be perfect!
Project blogs are ideal to form a sense of belonging amongst project staff, certainly if they are dispersed in different parts of the world. Even more so, a project blog can create a social community with other people working on similar projects or interested in the topic, from all over the world and any walk of life.
Use that community ask to questions, make reality checks, request input or help. Put up polls and instigate discussions.
Good project blogs can also create a “learn as we go” record-over-time, which later could be poured into a knowledge management “database”…
3. Field blogs
You can post all the data and statistics you want, nothing goes down better than a good field story. Again, spice it up with pictures and video.
4. Leadership blogs
Have your organisation’s leaders share their ideas, reflect, pose questions and concerns, either to their staff, donor constituency or like minded. Once again, the power of a blog, and the sphere around blogs will automatically create a sense of belonging, both with the staff and the external public. and model knowledge sharing.
5. Event blogs
Be it for a fundraising event, a conference or an advocacy festival, blogs are an excellent publicity and virtual participation medium. You can use blogs to rally participants (‘heat them up before the event’), or to have people participate remotely.
Think also about “live blogging”: have several people participate in the event as ‘rapporteurs’. They take notes, and post blogs real time.
Example of live blogging during a non-profit event:
6. Public Community blogs
As an excellent application of the social dynamism of a blog, public community blogs offer the organisations or community members the platform to invite partners and stakeholders to add their voices to an organization’s work. Participatory governance with a scent of advocacy, it all goes for a non-profit.
7. Topic blogs
Your non-profit organisation handles topics that many others tackle. We all often fight the same battles. A topic blog is centered around one generic subject, with extensions in different directions be it events, workshops or research. Once again blogs offer the opportunity to reach out and connect to an audience both internal in your organisation and towards the outside world.
Dependent on the topic, you will be surprised where your audience comes from, and the amount of people that work on the same topics as you do.
Whatever topic you choose, though, remember that the essence of blogs is “flexibility”. No matter how well you have thought things out, you will have to adapt and somehow let your blog “show you the way”.
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