Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 Elements of an Effective Nonprofit or Do-Good Blog

If after asking yourself the 10 Questions to Get You Started Using Social Media for Your Nonprofit or Do-Good Project, you've decided that a blog is good tool for you, consider incorporating the following 10 elements of an effective nonprofit, or do-good blog into your blogging strategy:

1. Make it easy to subscribe
  • Have an rss feed.
  • Allow email subscription (Feedburner or Feedblitz will help you do this).
  • Put a prompt to subscribe by rss and email at the top of your blog.
2. Make it easy to share
  • Use an AddThis or ShareThis button on the bottom of each post.
  • Place an AddThis or ShareThis button on the top of the blog.
  • If you are using Facebook, share your blog's feed in your Facebook news feed with the Notes application.
  • If you are using Twitter, share links to new blog posts (you can shorten the urls with
3. Make it easy to put faces and names to blog posts
  • Posts should say, by your name, not by admin, or by the name of your organization.
  • Provide a link to a page with bios for bloggers. If your blogging platform doesn't allow you to do that, have bloggers include a one-line bio at the end of their posts.
4. Make it easy to find out more information about your organization, or project
  • If your blog has its own website, separate from you organization or project's website, create an "About Us" page for your blog that describes the mission of your organization or project, and links back to its home page.
  • If your blog is integrated into your main website, make sure it is easy to navigate back and forth between the blog and your home page.
5. Make it easy to skim, but irresistible read
  • Use images with every post.
  • Write titles that tell the reader whether or not the post has information that is relevant to them.
  • Use bold, italics, bullets and numbered lists to break up the page.
  • Don't be afraid of white space.
  • Keep it short. People read between 250-300 words per minute.
6. Link to other bloggers
  • Use Google Blog Search, Alltop and Technorati to find blogs that write about similar topics to yours.
  • Have a "blogroll," a list of blogs that write about your issue.
  • Link to other blogs' posts within your posts, even if they have a different opinion to yours, it could start a great discussion.
  • Post weekly roundups of blog posts about your issue. You'll build community and provide a useful information filtering service for your readers.
7. Facilitate commenting
  • Allow commenting.
  • Moderate your comments if you are concerned about inappropriate remarks, or spam.
  • If they are civil, allow comments that are critical of your organization. If the conversation becomes too heated, you can always take it over to email.
  • If you receive a comment, acknowledge it, even if your reply is brief.
8. Post about a range topics (i.e. it's not just about you)

You could write about:
  • Breaking news in your field.
  • Interviews (written, audio, video).
  • Notes, photos and presentations from events.
  • Staff and supporters' opinions.
  • The story behind your organization/project.
  • Notes and photos from your work in the field.
  • Press mentions.
  • Requests for feedback and ideas.
  • Calls to action.
  • Guest blog posts.
  • How to lists.
  • Organizational/project news.
9. Engage your community and participate in other online communities
  • Read other blogs. Use Google Blog Search, Alltop and Technorati to find blogs that write about similar topics to yours.
  • Respond to comments.
  • Comment on other blogs that write about your topic and link to your posts. You can track who is linking to you and writing about your issue by using services like Google Analytics or SiteMeter. Set up a Google Alert for your blog's URL, the name of your blog, the name of your organization, and your issue too.
  • Hold and participate in online contests, challenges, blog carnivals and memes.
  • Ask readers to share opinions, resources, and content (blog posts, photos, audio, video).
10. Track your impact

Possible ways to measure impact are (just pick a few):
  • Subscribers (you can see this by burning your feed with Feedburner).
  • Visits, page views, links and referrals (you can see these with Google Analytics or SiteMeter).
  • Number of comments.
  • Content contributed by readers (i.e. posts, photos, video).
  • New donors, volunteers, or members who found you through your blog.
  • Donations made from a link to your donation page from your blog.
  • Press that found you through your blog.
  • Relationships that were formed through your blog.
Next week, Beth Kanter will be continuing this BlogHer series about getting started using social media for your nonprofit, or do-good project with posts about social networking, connecting offline and online action, and raising money on social networks. You can follow her BlogHer blog at

Related posts:
Related posts by me:
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  1. Hi, my name is Justin Thorp. I'm the community manager for AddThis. Thanks so much for plugging our product and using it. We really appreciate it.

    Looks like you may be using an older version of our code. I'd go to AddThis.come and make sure you have the latest stuff. We've made some pretty cool advancements recently.

    Let me know if there's anything we can do to improve the product.

  2. Thanks, Justin! Will do!

  3. As someone who has a lot to learn about blogging, social media, and web tools, I appreciate your approach. This post - and the one you mention in the first sentence - are simple, straightforward and helpful.

  4. Hi Peter,

    I'm glad you found it to be helpful!


  5. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Great post! If more organisations took this approach, they are bound to get more hits. As you said, don't give too much away all at once, just enought to have the reader coming back for more, or to at least pique their interest!

    Peggy ~

  6. Anonymous6:58 PM


    I work at General Mills and lead the Kalimira Village for our "Join My Village" campaign. Thanks for joining my village to help the women and girls in the Kasungu region of Malawi. Please blog to invite all to join the Kalimira Village. General Mills will donate $3 per day to all who join the Kalimira village and answer 3 quiz questions a day or invite 3friends to join Kalimira or a combination of both.

    Again...thank you for joining!!

    Meg Boehne

  7. I love the ideas here they are fantastic and very helpful. This is my first visit to your blog. I love it!

  8. Great info for philanthropic nonprofits such as ourselves.

  9. Great ideas! I'd really like to emphasize your point about moderating comments.

    One of our blogs gets spammed constantly with ad websites for prescription medication - totally irrelevant to our mission.

    Moderating (and removing) these comments keeps everything on track!

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience, Rachel!

  11. Great post. Ive got a charity awareness blog. I've been trying to encourage readers to post their own psa-type videos for their favorite charities on my page, but no one has posted any. Got any tips? Thanks!

  12. Hi CCOL4HIM,

    Because video takes a lot of skill and time to make, asking people to post them can be a big ask. Did you start by asking people to share the name of their favorite charity in the comments? You might want to work up from a small ask to a big one.

    Also, did you know that YouTube has a Video Volunteers program for people to create PSAs for their favorite organizations?


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