Years ago, I worked in journalism, and I used to cringe at the idea of “blogging.”
At the time, I thought blogging was something that Millennials with too much time on their hands did as a method of self-aggrandizement. However, once I stepped into the field of blogging, I found many, if not all, of my misconceptions were wrong.
The field is filled with Millennials with something to say, that’s for sure. But, looking past all the personal rant blogs, I’ve found there’s plenty of useful information out there on a huge range of topics.
Not only that, but once I dipped my feet into the pond, I got hooked and became a blogger myself. It’s both a useful tool for informing others, and a learning tool for myself.
I began blogging for nonprofits as an intern, which eventually led me to writing about nonprofit software for Capterra.
One thing I’ve been surprised to find throughout my career is just how effective blogging can be for nonprofits. Every major organizational announcement goes through their blog and onto every social media platform.
After witnessing the benefits, I can’t imagine why any nonprofit would forego such an easy and useful tool.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, but it’s just not high on your list of priorities. That’s probably because you haven’t seen the potential return on investment a blog can bring.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not your organization ought to join the blogosphere, I’ve compiled three key reasons why you should.
1. To build awareness of your brand
Nearly everything you do for your organization is in the name of building awareness, bringing in donors, and impacting the issue you initially set out to address.
You can accomplish all of these goals with a blog. A blog makes it possible to share information about your goals and the progress you’ve made toward your mission without relying on other publications.
In fact, blogging (especially frequent blogging) is statistically proven to provide more awareness for companies that have employed the strategy according to Hubspot:
“B2C companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than four times as many leads than those that blog only four to five times per month.”
While nonprofit organizations aren’t businesses in the traditional sense, they need donors just as much as for-profit companies need consumers. Frequent blogging is the perfect way to inform people of your mission and eventually convert them into donors.
Here are some specific ways you can leverage your blog to build awareness:
Every time your nonprofit reaches a new milestone,write a blog post about it. With each new post, you have the opportunity to share the latest news with your network, either through social media or email newsletters, or both.
Blog posts are the perfect social media content. Instead of sharing another publication’s article or sharing a standard text post on Facebook, when you share a blog post, you are creating a gateway to your website.
Blog posts are more versatile than a typical fundraising letter. For example, other publications searching for content can seize upon your posts for their stories, which further spreads your narrative. So, in a way, blog posts can also act as a springboard for any upcoming press releases.
2. To drive people to your website
Blogs are the perfect way to drive leads (and eventually donors) to your website using search engine optimization, or SEO.
Your main website should give potential donors all of the basic information needed to understand your mission and goals and a way to donate or get involved. You can use your blog as a tool to help them find your main site in the first place.
Google accounts for 79.88% of all search engine activity online, with Bing trailing at 9.9%. With those numbers in mind, it’s clearly important to rank well on the search engine that accounts for a vast a majority of all internet searches.
But how can a blog actually accomplish this for your nonprofit?
Use your blog to explore topics that are relevant to your nonprofit and that potential supporters might be searching for on Google. By strategically writing on these topics and targeting certain keywords, you’ll also gain the opportunity to share your news, campaigns, and advice through keyword rankings, which we’ll explain below.
According to SEOmark, Google ranks search engine results based on the following six criteria:
1. Keyword usage
Words matter when writing for your blog. Choose specific keywords to target over more broad terms, so you don’t have as much competition to rank for them. However, you must also make sure people are searching for your keywords. Do keyword research before you start writing using tools such as Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io.
2. Site structure
To rank well, your blog site must be easy to use and navigate, not only on desktop, but also on mobile. A poorly designed site will cause readers to bounce, or leave your website after only a short span of time without interacting with it in the way you’d hoped. And that has a direct affect on how many leads and donors you stand to acquire.
For further tips on building an optimized website, check out my piece: “9 Nonprofit Website Design Essentials to Supercharge Your Donations.”
3. Site speed
If your site loads slowly, readers won’t stick around, which will increase your bounce rate and in turn, lower your Google ranking
Learn some ways to improve your blog site speed with these tips: “10 Ways to Speed Up Your Website.”
4. Time spent on site
How long your readers spend on your blog depends solely on your ability to provide a well-functioning website as well as worthwhile content to read.
Here are some tips on decreasing your bounce rate: “11 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Bounce Rate.”
5. Number of inbound links
Otherwise known as backlinks, inbound links occur any time an outside source links to your website. You increase your backlinks by producing useful content other sources will use in their own posts or website content.
6. Quality of inbound links
You are providing helpful and detailed content on your blog, and your inbound links should reflect that.
SEOmark goes further into this in: “What Makes a Backlink a High Quality Backlink?”
A quality backlink should come from sources which go into great detail to explain their position, rather than “clickbait” websites which use your link purely to boost their ranking.
A content management system or hosting site, such as WordPress or Squarespace, should give you discretion over who links back to your website, so that you have some control over this.
3. To take control of your story
Why allow others to tell your story for you when you can easily do it yourself? Take it from a former journalist: There is no such thing as an interest free reporter, and every journalist has bias. Don’t allow somebody else’s slant to become the main influence on the reporting of your nonprofit’s activities and campaigns.
Hosting your own nonprofit blog puts you at the forefront of your own story, so you can shape your narrative however you like. Journalists will still come to your organization for questions, however they are also likely to reference your blog posts, which you’ve written with your goals in mind.
Furthermore, a blog allows you to tell a story to your followers, leads, and donors. Your stories shouldn’t solely be about your nonprofit organization. Instead, incorporate some posts about what your supporters have done for your cause.
Amnesty International’s blog post highlighting the organization’s work to further its goals
It turns what would be a self-advertising post into a personable and potentially heartwarming adventure about the people that make your fight possible.
An easy way to do this is to write posts that focus on one person or a small group of individuals that are making a difference in your campaign. Explain how they came to the cause, what they’ve done, what they plan to do next, etc.
Other resources for nonprofits
If you need a step-by-step guide for starting your nonprofit blog, check out the guide by Know How Nonprofit: “How to Create a Blog for Your Charity.”
There are a lot of other platforms and tools your nonprofit can explore to boost your support besides a blog, and the Capterra nonprofit blog has plenty of resources and guides at your disposal. Check these out:
What has been your experience building nonprofit blogs? What worked best for you and what didn’t? Why would you recommend a nonprofit start a blog? Let me know in the comments section below!