You probably have heard more and more about nonprofit use of blogs over the last year. And you may have read my article, “Should your nonprofit launch a blog?,” last fall. It’s a great introduction to blogging for nonprofits.
A quick reminder – a blog is a website that takes the form of an online journal, updated frequently with running commentary on one or many topics.
Why blogs matter
There are few who will discount blogs’ role as a key component of online culture. If anything, blogs are quickly becoming popular with established users of the Internet, according to a late 2004 study on blogs by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Pew conducted two telephone surveys of nearly 2,000 Internet users, and found that 32 million Americans, or 27 percent of Internet users, say they read blogs– a 58 percent jump from the prior year (with a huge growth in readers 30-49 years old). More than 8 million Internet users have created a blog or web-based diary. Twelve percent of Internet users have posted comments or other material on a blog.
Nonetheless, the blogging concept is still evolving among the majority of Americans. Sixty-two percent of online Americans do not know what a blog is, according to the Pew study.
Other results found by the Pew organization indicate the blogging community is still far from average, even among Internet users. Blog creators are more likely (82 percent) to have been online for six years or more and have broadband (70 percent) at home.
This study, paired with a prior Pew report indicating 59 percent of Americans access the Internet as of 2002, begs the question: What, if any, impact do blogs have on how the public gets their news and information?
The answer, not surprisingly, appears to be mixed. But what’s clear is that blogging (writing and reading), like Internet usage, is growing at a phenomenal rate. Even if your nonprofit isn’t blogging, organizations that are competing for the same donors, members, volunteers and participants are likely to be doing so. As a result, it’s a venue you can’t ignore any longer.
For more details, read the Pew Project Report.
When to launch your nonprofit blog
Okay, so blogging is a growing phenomenon and definitely something you have to keep your eye on. But when does it make sense for your nonprofit to take the plunge? Here are just a few motivations and models:
- Your CEO or subject expert has a distinctive point of view and/or news to share on a very regular basis.
Teagle Foundation Staff and other experts in liberal (arts) education, blog to exchange ideas about liberal education and how it can be strengthened.
- Your organization wants to disseminate news to, and facilitate conversation among, key audiences (it helps if they have an interest or experience in common).
This blog was launched by alumni of The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student newspaper.
- Pulling together news and perspectives on a particular subject area is your nonprofit’s specialty, and you want to get the info out quickly and broadly.
Green Media Toolshed, which builds and strengthens the communications infrastructure for the environmental movement, publishes a blog on the latest and greatest resources.
These are just a few of the ways in which blogging can make a difference for your nonprofit. There are many more out there which I’ll highlight in future issues of Getting Attention.
But don’t wait for me. Get online and start reviewing the blogs mentioned above and others even closer to your organization’s needs. This process will help jump start your blog strategy and give you some concrete examples to show colleagues who may be less familiar with blogs.