After my last post, I received an email asking how other non-profits or social causes could also use blogging technology for its purposes. Below, I list someways blogging can be used by non-profits as well as some strengths and limitations of the technology.
First Things First
I come with the view that like in the commercial sector, finding an umbrella term to put all non-profit marketing and advertising under is difficult. Research studies have been explored, textbooks written, debates held and still universal definitions are lacking. Some used to think a few years back the IMC, Integrated Marketing Communications would be the end-all classification system for advertising. Yet, this debate still continues. Do we put public relations under this? Why the term marketing? Where does viral belong? etc.
Therefore, just like the commercial advertising arena suffers from an identity crisis, so does the community of non-profit/health communications/social causes/etc. Though, I might classify many of these as social marketing. But then, where do we put corporate social responsibility or cause marketing? (These both have profit aims…) So, yikes! Is there overlap? Is overlap the right word? What are we to do? The questions and debates continue. In discussing these terms and looking at definitions, I am going to offer up that is depends largely on your end objective. I agree there’s more to this debate, but for practical considerations (and when looking to use blogging technology) I say, first determine your end objective to decide if, and what type, of blogging is right for you.
Examples of Blogging Being Used by Non-Profits:
Citizen’s League in Minnesota. They have two blogs. One that is updated with public policy news, trends and updates. The other who is from the point of view of a person which has similar content, but the first person point of view adds relevance and personalizes the stories.
Children Matter. A Christian non-profit ministry who uses a blog for its message.
Strengths of Blogging
1. A blog can provide an outlet for stories to be told regarding the issue or project. This can also be created as a way to get more involved and to increase participation. It can also make the message for personal and relevant. Interplast has their volunteers upload information and share stories about their experiences regarding their work site.
2. Helps build an online community. This includes expanding your traditional media lists to include other bloggers, online social networks, websites and more.
3. Blogging has no geographic limitations unlike a lot of traditional media (tv, radio, magazine, newspapers).
4. Requires small tangible finances. But, may require more employee/volunteer hours and time to manage.
5. Can boost media coverage by expanding your traditional media list to include fellow bloggers, social networks, online communities, websites and more.
6. Put your already-drafted press releases to good work by setting up an RSS feed on your blog to provide up-to-date news about your organization. this allows others to know what the organization is up to, gives those interested more information to talk about and can increase your media coverage.
7. Provide information and resources via a blog. A blog is one way to provide the same information you could on a website or brochure, but in an interactive, fun, and personal manner. For example, instead of telling what the participants do throughout the year. Have the voice of your blog be told through the ‘Volunteer Sarah’ and give it a diary feel.
8. From your blog, you can also provide information on how to get involved, donate, volunteer, and participate. This could include a sign-up page for the weekly email blasts.
9. Blogs also are a way to track, organize and build a resource for an organization/cause. If it comes time to write a report, you can search your blog for all relevant information regarding ‘XYZ’ and poof- you have all the information you need already written.
10. Use a blog as your organization’s website.
11. For good feedback, use your blog as a sounding board or discussion forum. Also, blog stats and analytics could help you find more target audiences interested in your cause.
Limits of Blogging
1. If you use a free service (blogger, wordpress, etc.), sometimes you are limited with the type of content you can post. Examples including: limitations for customizing options including how you organize content or the design unless you have someone with the expertise to do so, or upgrade your blog service.
2. The domain name can be tricky. Unless you want to purchase a domain, your domain name will (usually) include the blog service you are using. However, domains can be purchased for something like $10/year. This blog also provide many helpful tips and resources for creating your own domain.
3. Must provide quality information at a consistent rate.