Does your nonprofit need a blog? That depends on your overall communications strategy. But to help you think through this question, here are my top five reasons why a nonprofit should have a blog and my top five reasons why a nonprofit shouldn’t.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Blog
1. You need a better way to share the small stuff. You have many wonderful little anecdotes that your supporters would love to hear. You also run across cool resources and surprising statistics all the time, but none of it really ranks as “newsletter worthy” because they are too short. Blogs are perfect for 50-word updates.
2. You need to take people behind the scenes. This is especially important for organizations that work in places people either can’t get to easily on their own (e.g., overseas or restricted areas like hospital wards or prisons) or are reluctant to visit, even if they could (e.g., the “bad part” of town). For your supporters to really get what you do, they have to understand where you do it. Blogging lets you take them there by giving you a platform to share stories and photos over time, creating an ongoing narrative, post by post, all in one easily accessible place.
3. You need a better way to organize the resources you have available. If you see yourself as a service, training, or resource provider, you probably have a ton of information on your website that is actually pretty tough for people to find. One of the beautiful things about blogging is that categories and tags are a natural part of the software, so you can easily group items and your readers can easily find them.
4. You need to react quickly. If your organization responds to breaking news, I don’t see how you can be effective online without a blog — or without the functional equivalent built into your website (i.e. some other kind of RSS-producing “news” section).
5. You need to incubate content for bigger publications. If you produce reports, white papers, books, etc., then a blog is perfect for your organization. It lets you publish bits and pieces as you create them and get comments from others who care about your issues. Then it’s all right there when you are ready to create a larger publication.
5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Blog
1. Because transparency is too scary. Blogging is about sharing. If the idea of strangers getting a peek into your work wigs you out, then forget about blogging.
2. Because writing in a personal tone of voice is too hard. Good blog writing is direct, conversational, and personal. If you are only comfortable writing as “the organization” rather than as a person working at the organization, then blogging is not for you.
3. Because criticism is too scary. If you only want to hear from people who think you are brilliant, blogging is not for you. In my opinion, you can’t turn off comments and still call what you are doing blogging. Moderate comments, yes, but don’t delete comments just because they are critical.
4. Because you can’t make the time. Because of the chronological nature of blogging, people pay attention to how often you post. If you can’t post once a week, blogging probably isn’t for you.
5. Because you can’t articulate the value of your blog. If you don’t know how your blog fits into your nonprofit marketing strategy and what you what to accomplish with it, then don’t do it.
P.S. On Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 1:00 p.m., I’m teaching my Blogging 101 webinar called Blogging for Nonprofits: Tips, Traps, and Tales. If you can’t make it live, you can watch the recording if you have an All-Access Pass.