I see it happen all the time on nonprofit websites: a blog that starts with gusto but then trails off into oblivion like an aging cowboy into the sunset.
You’ve probably seen them too. So when your board says, “Hey, we should start a blog!” you may wince at the image of your blog lying in an Internet graveyard with nary a donation in sight.
But take heart. Blogging for donations is possible; you just need a clear idea of the right way to run your blog for full fundraising effect.
Let’s look at the four steps many nonprofits miss when they start a blog so that yours defies the grim reaper and actually boosts your fundraising efforts.
1. Define What a Blog Actually Is
From their initial format as online diaries, blogs have evolved a great deal. Yet so many people still have that diary mindset when they get their blog on.
First, what a blog is:
- An online content asset that is continually renewed: This signals to search engines that your website is alive and worth crawling.
- A way to give your website life: It gets your organization out from behind the curtain to build trust with potential donors.
- A format for specific calls-to-action, which may or may not include donation asks (other options are email opt-ins, calls for volunteering, etc.).
Second, what a blog isn’t:
- A platform to talk only about your organization and why you’re so great.
- On online format for your annual report or board minutes.
2. Create a Blog that People Love
To decide how a blog will drive your fundraising, you should develop it from a very granular level:
- Are you already doing online fundraising that your blog can support?
- Do you have a healthy social media audience? If not, do you have a plan to increase your social media reach?
- Do other nonprofits with a similar audience already blog about the same thing? If so, how will you stand apart?
- Are there other bloggers, online magazines or publications in your space who might let you piggyback off their audiences?
- Do you have a plan to brand your blog that fits with your nonprofit’s overall marketing plan?
In other words, you need to think like a publisher and decide how your blog fits in the general content landscape.
3. Learn About the Two Main Ways Blogs Get Donations
For fundraising purposes, a blog can help you directly and indirectly depending on the specific stage your prospect is in.
For indirect action your blog creates awareness or shows proof about your knowledge of your sector:
- You’ve been wooing a major donor for a while, and you know she wants nonprofits to be super-star experts. You can you use your blog to show you are supremely knowledgeable about your sector, especially compared to nonprofits that aren’t as forthcoming about their expertise.
- You want to pitch the media about your upcoming campaign, and you can include a ream of blog posts to show that you are an authoritative resource.
For direct action, the blog captures the attention of a donor who is already aware of you and has considered alternatives to the problem:
- You want to tell in-depth stories about your impact on the community that are too long for your e-newsletter. You then put a call-to-action to your donation page so that people who are inspired by the story can give.
- You can put a link to your donation page on the sidebar of your blog no matter what the topic, so that your blog readers are constantly primed to the idea of giving to you.
Counterintuitively, indirect support may have a more immediate effect on your fundraising, while direct donations from your blog may take a lot more time to build.
4. Create a Blogging Map to Donation Treasure
Turning your blog into a fundraising machine can be a long process, but you can use this super-quick list to stay on the right path:
- Constantly research your audience. Do they give online? Do they even like to read blogs? Do they like funny and inspirational stories or useful tips?
- Don’t always write about your fundraising. The main goal with a blog is to connect with people and make them aware of you, not bombard them with asks.
- Include calls-to-action that fit with both your blog content and overall fundraising goals.
Your donor audiences may not react to your blog the way you predict, so keep analyzing and measuring how your blog is performing in the fundraising department.
If donors aren’t connecting with your blog, you may find that volunteers or program users love the platform and are keen to engage, which can still add value to your overall marketing initiatives.
Go forth and blog!
A blog can boost your fundraising, but you’ll need to be strategic and not expect donors to flock to you just because you posted something on the Internet.
The best strategy is to create a blog that has a remarkable editorial purpose and strives to add value to people’s lives.
And remember to make it easy to give with clear calls-to-action to your donation page, while avoiding bombarding people with asks.
People won’t give just because they read your blog. But if you write expert posts that really stand out, your blog will be another way to keep your nonprofit in people’s minds once they’re in the mood to give.
This is a guest post by Amy Butcher.