Blogging for Nonprofits

Invite Your Supporters to Fundraise for Your OrganizationSuch viral fundraising  or micro philanthropy is just one of the 10 great ways nonprofits can benefit from blogs (their own and others) outlined by blogger supreme Britt Bravo. I’ve shared many of these same ideas, plus a few more, with you in recent posts but not this one, which is brilliant.

Britt points to some of the bloggers (Beth Kanter stands out in my mind) who have raised lots for causes, and the availability of plug-ins that bloggers in your audience can easily add to their blogs. This is a low cost, high potential means of enhancing your fundraising. Make it happen.

Here are a few examples to get you going:

That’s the kind of virus every organization would like to have!

Here’s how to start:

  • Reach out to donors, inviting them to join your fundraising team — featuring the invite in an e-newsletter is a great appraoch
  • Ask those who have a Web site and/or blog to fundraise there
  • Point them to a how to page on your Web site, with links to fundraising tools (such as the Network for Good charity badge, ChipIn and FirstGiving)
  • Ask them to register online (just so you know what the response, and success rate is).

Please share your experiences with supporter fundraisers in the comments field below.

P.S. Now dogs can fundraise too. Just ask Jaspar.

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Viral Marketing | 1 comment

Just Added — December 18th!

  • Taking the Initiative (Sierra Club)
    • Blogger: Executive Director Carl Pope has been blogging for almost two years now, and he’s a pro at it. He writes zingy, pithy posts on issues that are relevant to audiences lives, so they catch readers’ attention.
    • A recent post on Illinois’ recently signed bill to restrict pollution, partially focused on ensuring that regional fish are as mercury-free as possible pulled in readers with Pope’s focus on:
      • Many fish have dangerously-high levels of mercury
      • Illinois is ahead of the game in signing this new bill
      • Detailing aspects of the bill which are great models for other states.
    • So he pulls readers in via a personal concern (mercury-laden fish), then hooks them into the legislative/advocacy agenda. Masterfully done, Carl.
    • Subscribe to this blog’s feed and track Carl’s posts. He’s one of the best nonprofit bloggers I know, and the top of the list of advocacy bloggers.

Don’t forget to email me when you hear of a new blog from a nonprofit or foundation CEO.

  • President’s Blog (Trinity University)
    • Blogger: President Patricia McGuire is a natural blogger — disarmingly straightforward, tackles the hard issues, writes in a conversational voice.
    • She gives her point of view on two fronts — University news and current affairs. In Her November 16th post, McGuire hones in on Nancy Pelosi’s (a Trinity alum) perceived loss of power after her appointment of Steny Hoyer as whip (Pelosi had supported Murtha, but was out voted). She uses this event as a springboard to discuss “losing and leading, learning the art of compromise in order to make progress.”
    • McGuire’s clear, strong voice is compelling. If I was a student considering Trinity, or a prospective donor reviewing giving opportunities, I’d source her blog for a powerful sense of what I’d be getting into.
    • BTW, comments are accepted only through an email form, with McGuire blogging her responses only to selected comments and queries.
  • President’s Blog (Oregon Institute of Technology)
    • Blogger: Martha Anne Dow, Institute president, blogs on issues as wide-ranging as the campus physical plant to the Institute’s GRAD program for high school graduates. No comments are accepted.
    • Dow’s posts are in “admin voice,” so don’t make as much impact as they could.
    • Nonetheless, she posts on some controversial issues. See Dow’s October 23rd post on the decrease in state support, results in increased tuition.
    • However, Dow needs to post more frequently. I’m writing this on November 17th and the last post was made on October 30th.
  • Beneblog
    • Blogger: James Fruchterman, social entrepreneur, founder of Benetech and 2006 MacArthur Genius award winner. Benetech creates innovative technology solutions that address social needs. Its initiative created the world’s largest accessible library of scanned books and periodicals, providing people with visual or print disabilities access to a dramatically increased volume of print materials.
    • Fruchterman’s blog is a great example of what studio 501c blogger Celeste Wroblewski calls the “business lunch blog.”
      • In a simple and clear, short to medium-length posts  Fruchterman discusses Benetech news and comments on current events related to the mission and  work of the organization. Definitely stays at the overview level but his comments supplement the reader’s understanding of Fruchterman’s vision,and where the organization is going.
      • Just the kind of interesting but finite content you’d discuss over lunch with a donor, staff member, colleague or board member over a roast beef sandwich, when you have a 2pm meeting coming. Enough, but not too much.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive listing of leadership blogs across the world.

Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Leadership, Nonprofit Communications, Philanthropy | 4 comments

As nonprofit tech innovator Beth Kanter points out in her intro to this useful interview, storyteller Holly Stevens is a natural blogger. Many of the same interests and talents that make Holly a master storyteller, make her a strong nonprofit communicator. She’s passionate, she’s focused and she knows how to put her skills to work to motivate dialogue on difficult issues.

Stevens sees strong similarities in how blog and storytelling audiences relate to content. Here are her tips for nonprofit bloggers:

  • Practice inductive writing, in which the particular experiences of the writer is shared first, and the wisdom that came of the experiences comes later. That way, your readers can participate vicariously in the experience; they might come away with an entirely different new kernel of truth that the writer expresses, but it is still much more of a shared experience.
  • Blend personal narrative with broad social commentary, the way Barbara Kingsolver tells stories. She might start off with a remark her daughter made after a morning in kindergarten, and the remark gets her going about what it means to be patriotic, and how she feels robbed of her identification with the American flag.
  • Craft your blog post to make for good reading aloud.

BTW, in her own blog, The Story and The Listener Online, Holly publishes two guest essays each month which explore, “the role of story and narrative in peacemaking, healing, bridge building and reconciliation processes in communities around the world.”  Here are some recent examples:

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Copywriting, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this ridiculously engaging post on chutzpah, truffles and Alain Ducasse by the Amateur Gourmet.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the tip.

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Branding and Messages, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments

The traveling Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants brings you the best blog postings on nonprofit issues. For this week’s event, I asked bloggers to advise on how already over-taxed nonprofit communicators can handle the ever-expanding menu of communications channels, especially social networking tools, and what social media have the greatest potential for nonprofits.

I received so many useful responses that I have to break the rule to limit my Carnival to seven post references. I just can’t do it — you’d lose out on too much valuable information and insight. Here goes:

Marc Sirkin, VP of eMarketing at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and blogger extraordinaire at npMarketing Blog, has more experience with social networking than most. He covers several key issues in It’s a Social Networking Carnival, , and emphasizes the importance of communicating as a human being — rather than a marketer — in these venues. The value of being genuine is something I hear a lot these days, Marc.

Kevin Hendricks of Think Personality concurs with Marc in Be Yourself to Make the Most of Social Networking.  He takes it one step further to stress that the social media (social media and social networking used interchangeably here) venue you use must be a good fit. Blogging makes sense when the blogger posts in a genuine, opinion-laden voice; YouTube works great when your nonprofit has footage that really conveys your story, and is willing to give up some control.

Katya Andresen of Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog adds the Five Minute Guide to Social Networking, with a host of tips derived from her travels in developing countries. Seems that there are several relevant analogies between finding one’s way in uncharted territories and with uncharted communications channels. Take 1 — get to know the culture before plunging in.

Emily Weinberg at Emily’s World shares her insights on How Nonprofits Can Use Facebook, including several mini-case studies.

Ken Goldstein at The Nonprofit Consultant Blog introduces us to Care2, an online community specifically for folks looking for volunteer or giving opportunities, in Care2 Join an Online Community?

Michelle Martin at The Bamboo Project Blog summarizes why The Bridge is such an effective MySpace campaign. The Bridge is The Glue Network’s project to build a virtual bridge around the world connecting 24,092 people (the number of miles around the world) who care about helping others (and donate to jump on the bridge).

Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog muses on How Blogging Changes Things, emphasizing the necessity of an authentic voice and looking forward to the day when that voice spills over into other communications channels.

Beth Kanter at Beth’s Blog emphasizes the importance of experimentation in understanding which social networking tools are right for your nonprofit, suggests four steps to getting started in Using Social Networking Tools – Advice, Brief Case Study, and Resources.

Nedra Weinreich of Spare Change reports in on The CDC’s Second Life. One of the reason’s behind the CDC’s success in Second Life if its immersion in Second Life culture before taking the plunge. Are you beginning to sense a theme here?

Michael Hoffman,
one of the innovators behind DoGooderTV, posts his take on Social Networking — What’s Real at See What’s Out There.  Michael’s caution to take a breath makes great sense. Don’t jump on the social networking bandwagon because you fear being left behind. Do jump on the social networking learning curve, so you find out what makes send for your nonprofit’s outreach.

David Wilcox, from across the pond at Designing Civil Society, wonders if social networking will, in time, eclipse interest in associations and other membership organizations in Why Bother with Membership?

And finally, my post on MacArthur Foundation Walks the Walk with Launch of Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

Next week’s Carnival, hosted at Donor Power Blog, is an open call. Don’t forget to submit your post. .

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Case Studies, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Social Networking, Strategy, Unique Approaches | 1 comment

Kudos to the thought leaders at the MacArthMacArthur Foundation Walks the Walk with Launch of Digital Media and Learning Initiativeur Foundation who recently launched the $50 million Digital Media and Learning Initiative, focused on understanding how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life.

What’s most impressive is that the Foundation’s communications strategy for launching the Initiative was designed to show what the initiative is doing, in addition to talking about it.
The multi-channel launch included the standard, in-person press conference, held in New York, plus two simultaneous virtual casts — a Web videocast of the live event and a Second Life events in New Media Consortium virtual campus. (that’s the image here, the Second Life participants viewing the live event).

According to nonprofit-use-of-tech-innovations blogger Beth Kanter, there were over 65 educators on the Second Life virtual campus, each represented by an avatar. "While the speakers were talking, the avatars in Second Life were carrying on a lively debate in chat about the points raised, suggesting questions to be asked in the room in New York City, and sharing resources related to the discussion at hand," reports Beth (who participated herself).

Talk about convergence. As participants joined the launch via Webcast and Second Life, real-life bloggers were blogging the in-person event. In addition, the Second Life gathering was projected to the participants at the live event. That’s multiple channel, multiple audience, reach anybody who’s interested where they get their information. At the same time, Beth and other bloggers live-blogged the event on Second Life.

Most relevant to your nonprofit communications effort, is the way in which MacArthur demonstrated its commitment to social media/networking as learning and communications tools, and its fluency in those tools, in the launch itself. Core communications maxim: It’s far more effective to show, rather than to tell.

MacArthur’s Press Release
Launch Coverage from a Second Life Perspective

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Social Networking | 0 comments

When the New York Times reported that CNN had invited 25 top political bloggers to an election night blogging party at a Washington cafe, I knew that something had shifted. And I don’t mean the majority in the House.

Participants ranged from Bob Cesca of The Huffington Post to RedState’s Mike Krempasky. Some of their analysis appeared in segments on-air in online reports, including on CNN Pipeline,’s premium live video news service.

There’s no going back now. Blogging has come into its own. “Much of the serious political dialog is taking place online, and it seems wrong to ignore it,” says CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman, who helped to select blogger participants from across the political spectrum.

So CNN is acknowledging how influential blogs are in certain arenas, and bringing key bloggers into the conversation formerly dominated by broadcast media (election night finds many of us glued to the TV). When the player formerly at the top of the heap invites the newbie to the table, that’s a powerful symbolic action. Much like Bush inviting the new Democratic House leaders to lunch at the White House today.

What this means for your nonprofit is this:

  • Blogs can’t be ignored any longer as a core communications channel
  • There is significant opportunity for advocacy via blogging
  • Get on the stick with responding to posts on your nonprofit and the issues you focus on, even if you aren’t ready to get blogging yourself.

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

Get ready, the Carnival is coming to town. Next Monday, November 13th, I’ll be hosting the next edition of the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants — a weekly compilation of the best guidance and resources that nonprofit consultants post on via their blogs.

Next week, I’ll be featuring posts on nonprofit use of social networking tools (MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). Write a post covering one or more of the following topics, and email it to me by Sunday, November 12th.

  • Context: As more and more communications channels come on the scene, we, as communicators, have more to analyze, experiment with, and staff (and sometimes pay for).
  • How do we:
    • Find the time to explore an ever expanding menu of communications channels
    • Identify the channels that will be most effective
    • Ramp up our skill base in those channels
    • Convince leadership to invest in these channels (even if it means more budget, or doing less via traditional channels)
    • Learn from other nonprofit communicators
    • What channels have the greatest potential for various facets of nonprofit communications (giving, advocacy, program/service marketing, branding, etc.), and why?
  • What are some social networking “don’ts” for nonprofit organizations?

I’m looking for your post (either a recent post, or a new one you’ll write for this purpose) on any or all of these topics. And please consider marketing in its broadest sense.. as it relates to fundraising, messaging, technology, etc.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Some time between now and Sunday, November 12, publish your nonprofit/social marketing post.
  2. Once you’ve done that, send me your post’s URL (the post permalink, not the blog’s URL) at [email protected]
  3. On the afternoon of Monday, November 13, I’ll post the Carnival.  The Carnival post will feature comments on and links to the seven most relevant posts submitted.

I’ve found that participating in this carnival is a great way to boost blog traffic, and be discovered by new readers.  The weeks my posts have been in it, I’ve seen a modest but persistent increase in traffic. In addition, I’ve found it refreshing to be pushed by a colleague to think and comment on a topic they’ve selected.

Don’t forget to come back next Monday to join me at the

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Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Social Networking | 2 comments

Don’t overlook mainstream media blogs,” advises Kevin Maney, technology columnist, reporter and blogger for USA Today. “Blogs that run on sites like ours can be perfect targets for breaking news and industry tidbits. For example, my blog on the site is always hungry. And the space is much less precious than space in a newspaper. It’s a much easier entry point into the media,” he assures.

Maney recently offered these additional tips and techniques for PR practitioners seeking entry into the blogosphere in a recent issue of Journalists Speak Out e-news:

  1. Provide fresh information, without the positioning. Most nonprofits don’t have a lot of breaking news but when you do, get that out to bloggers ASAP. What nonprofits and foundations do have frequently is research. Get it out much more broadly than you are today, sans framing. “Blogs are simpler. We want to post things that are interesting and new — so it’s no big sweat for us to pop a quick factoid into a blog. That means it’s got to be short: raw information is best,” Maney says.
  2. Offer experts and access, and expect quick turnaround. Maney looks for big names in their  issue areas.
  3. Hone relationships with key bloggers, and your pitch (just like you would to any print or broadcast journalist). Don’t be a newbie — read blogs, build relationships, then pitch unique content that matches a particular blogger’s interests . Maney advises  not to count on the blanket approach you might use to reach dailies. "That kind of blanket approach won’t work with us. We want fresh stuff and we want to hear from people who read through our blogs,” he stresses.
  4. Give bloggers a month to cover your story before you follow-up.  “Most bloggers are like columnists,” says Maney. “That means we don’t always ‘publish’ every day. Our schedules are very personalized and depend on how we take in information and put it together. That means, for example, that we might mention your item a few times, instead of just once, as with a newspaper."

Read 5 Steps to Building Relationships with Key Bloggers for more tips on boosting blog coverage of your nonprofit.

Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment

I’m certain that identifying, and building relationships with, targeted print and broadcast journalists is a core component of your nonprofit’s marketing strategy. But I’m (almost) just as certain that you’re leaving out a vital cadre of new media conduits — bloggers.

Tremendous growth in blogging by and on nonprofits is just part of the broader emergence of blogs. You’re likely to be a regular reader of blogs, and it’s probably occurred to you that some of the bloggers you read are folks who should know about what your nonprofit is doing. These blogs are likely to reach some of the same audiences targeted by your nonprofit, and many traditional journalists covering related beats.

I urge you to move forward now to integrate blogger relations into your media relations work as a formal commitment. When you do, you’ll find that bloggers are far more likely to post accurately on your nonprofit’s mission and programs, and far more likely to contact you with questions when they’re critiquing one of your organization’s programs or policies.

Here’s how to build strong blogger relationships:

  1. Research the key blogs that cover the issue areas in which your nonprofit works, the related policy arena and other relevant topics. Find these by searching (Technorati works well) for coverage of these topics and of your nonprofit and colleague and competitive organizations.
  2. Subscribe to these blogs via email download (you’ll find a button for this if it’s offered) or your RSS reader.
  3. Become familiar with what the blogger(s) cover, their purpose in blogging and their points of view. During this process you’re likely to cut some blogs and add others to your target list.
  4. Begin to build relationships with the top 20 bloggers. Do this over the course of a couple of weeks by participating in the conversations on the bloggers’ blogs, via the comments field. Make sure your comments are relevant rather than gratuitous.
  5. If your nonprofit blogs, blog on a recent posts by these bloggers, linking to the Trackback links (which flags the blogger that you’re linking to one of their posts) to the posts so they know you’ve featured them. But be genuine. Do this only if your citation and analysis fits well within your nonprofit’s blog content strategy.

Nonprofit communicators, start tracking and getting to know bloggers today. This strategy is low-cost, high benefit, with the potential to reinforce key messages and calls to action for your target audiences, and to reach beyond existing targets to audiences likely to become supporters, participants or volunteers.

Learn more about how to get a reporter’s attention in this Getting Attention article.

Nancy Schwartz in Blogging for Nonprofits, Media Relations and Press, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments

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