In the past, blogs were like online journals where people wrote about their experiences. Today, blogging has transformed into a tool nonprofits can use to regularly post and promote content about their cause. As an inbound marketing agency, we write over 30 blogs a month for our clients. We've seen the benefits nonprofits can reap from posting articles to their website. We’ve also seen some of the common pitfalls nonprofit organizations can fall into when they start blogging.
Pitfall #1 The Non-Existent Blog
Imagine a stranger searching for information about your cause on the internet. A well-written article, using the right keywords, could attract them to your website. Once they’ve landed on your site, you have an opportunity to direct them to more detailed content or even better, to a call-to-action where they can engage with your organization.
A blog allows you to publish content that keeps your website relevant to search engines. It establishes you as a reliable, trustworthy source of information about your cause. The more content you put out, the more likely you are to show up in search engine results, be linked to by other websites, and have your content shared on social media.
Pitfall #2 The Impersonal Blog
The most powerful blog posts connect the reader emotionally to the story being told. Sharing straight facts won't stick with your reader like a good story will. By telling true stories or at least stories based on true events, you can evoke feeling and emotions in your reader that will make them want more. Be warned! Don't try to elicit an emotional response from your audience just for the sake of it. Your supporters will see through that immediately.
Pitfall #3 The Blog with No Impact
Showing the impact of constituents’ support is key to getting people to come back and give again. The reason your supporters donate, volunteer, etc. is because they feel like they are having an impact on the world. The more concrete you can make that impact, the easier it is for people to see it and give again. It also makes it easier to share your organization’s mission with their personal networks.
Pitfall #4 The Blog that Doesn’t Say Thank You
Does your organization have a staff that works their fingers to the bone because they know your mission is worthwhile? Why not introduce them to your audience? If your organization has ways your supporters can volunteer their time, you can use a blog to highlight their efforts. By taking the time to thank your supporters for their time and efforts, you’re the one who benefits.
First, everyone enjoys a good pat on the back. Second, you’ll inspire others to become involved. Finally, they’ll naturally share your blog on their social media pages for friends, family, and coworkers to see. By doing so, they spread awareness of your organization, and your organization will get credit for being in their good graces. After all, if sweet Olivia from accounting volunteers there, it must be a good cause!
Pitfall #5 The Audience-Free Blog
It’s easy for nonprofits to get caught in the “awareness trap” where you think “The more people who find out about us, the more people will become donors.” This isn’t always the case. As terrible as it may seem, not everyone sees how worthwhile your cause is. In fact, depending on your cause, you may have a faction of people vehemently opposed to the progress you are making. Writing a one size fits all message isn't going to cut it. Direct your blog toward your ideal donor. Who is the person you know is interested in your content. Who is going to be the most passionate about your cause?
Pitfall #6 The Going-Nowhere Blog
Sure, your website, social media and blog are all great tools to use to raise awareness, but they can do so much more.I once saw a comic strip about “raising awareness.” It went something like this:
A woman finds a homeless man.
She says, “Oh how awful! We need to raise awareness!”
So she tells her friends, “Hey, that guy over there is homeless.”
Her friends respond with “Oh, that’s awful.”
Then in the last panel, the homeless man’s rags magically turn into a business suit, and he has a job as the CEO of a major corporation.
Thank goodness for raising awareness!
The point of the comic was to show that sharing information isn’t enough. It won’t give a homeless man a job and new suit of clothes. Harness the power of your blog to tell your story, raise funds, empower volunteers and engage advocates. To make that happen your content needs to tell a story that will encourage people to take action. Then you need to tell them what action you want them to take. Don’t make them guess where to go to donate, fill out a volunteer form or show up for a march or rally. Placing a call-to-action at the bottom of the page to direct them to a landing page related to the article they just read. Don’t present your audience with a problem without showing them how they can be part of the solution.
Then take your work beyond the landing page. Send follow up e-mails, target your website visitors with ads on social media, send a thank you note for donations, send reminders about volunteer shifts or opportunities and so much more. Make it easy for your readers to stay engaged with your organization.
An effective inbound marketing plan that incorporates a nonprofit blog as well as social media can generate leads in donors, volunteers, and constituents. See how one nonprofit organization used inbound marketing to increase their social authority and their bottom line in as little as two years.