By now we have all heard about the importance of storytelling for non-profits—it’s an engaging way to transmit information about our work that can’t be communicated through statistics, mission statements, or ‘letters from the CEO.’ Stories evoke feelings like empathy, pride, hope, and even anger. Since humans often act out of emotions, rather than reason or logic, storytelling has proven to be a powerful tool for non-profits to mobilize support, raise funds, and build communities. With the majority of content consumption happening online, blogs are the go-to channel for telling your non-profit’s story.
Why do blogs work well for non-profits?
The blog, as a content channel, is extremely flexible. Blog posts can consist of a two-paragraph reaction to a recent trend in your field, or a more in-depth case study of one of your programs. On blogs, there is room for many voices, with guest posts shining light on staff, volunteers, or program beneficiaries who have important stories to tell. Blogs are easy to update, and usually no longer than 600-800 words, which is perfect for a time-strapped non-profit. Blogs are also a great channel to highlight your funders, an important goal for many organizations. Learn how to get started below!
1. Select a blog platform
You will need a platform to host your blog. Some tech-savvy non-profits use WordPress or similar software to design their own blog in HTML and host it directly on their organization’s website. Other organizations choose to host their blog on an external platform like Google’s Blogger, Tumblr, or the web-based version of WordPress. These platforms provide how-to guides and support for beginners, hundreds of templates to choose from, and back-end management of comments, posting, and analytics to monitor the views on each post.
2. Make a plan
The most successful blogs are the ones with frequent posts. In addition to providing more interesting stories to your community, frequent blog posts have a positive effect on your blog and website’s search rankings. Try creating an editorial calendar for your organization, where you can plot out the next few months of content. At a loss for ideas? Include fun ‘holidays’ in your calendar, like ‘International Bike-To-Work Day’ if you are an environmental organization, and create content around those themes. Other content can be supplemental to stories you are telling through other channels. For example, if you write a press release about a program that recently concluded, follow up with a guest blog post from one of the beneficiaries, or announce a new video through a blog post that offers some ‘behind the scenes’ facts from its production.
3. Don’t forget photos
Every blog post should have a photo! Why? The goal of writing blog posts should include connecting with your audience, and nothing hooks people in more than a set of eyes looking back at them. They want to read the story to learn the context behind the photo, or who that person is. Also, if you want to get the most reach out of your post, you’ll want people to post it to social media—links with photos receive more than twice the amount of engagement as links without them.
4. Distribute your content!
While you may get some clicks on your content through your website or Google searches, you need to be proactive in attracting readers. Leverage all of your organization’s existing content channels to increase your blog readership—each post should appear at least once on your organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and can also be linked to in newsletters and on your website’s news section—the more promotion, the better! In addition, make sure to activate a ‘feedburner,’ which allows readers to sign up to be notified each time a new post is published.
A blog is a communications channel that does take time to maintain, but it’s a valuable and increasingly necessary tool that helps you tell hundreds of little stories that together speak volumes about your organization—more than a report ever could.