Wednesday, August 12, 2015

10 Best Blogging Practices for NGOs

 I recently participated in an excellent webinar on nonprofit blogging best practices, organized by Nonprofit Tech for Good and OnGood, and led by Heather Mansfield, expert blogger and author. The webinar and follow-up notes were so rich in resources that I decided to share them here, along with a few of my own footnotes and suggestions. It may come as no surprise to those in the nonprofit communications field that: responsive design and mobile optimization are key in terms of current trends on the design front, and content-wise, short and simple is best, with attention to formatting and visuals when publishing longer copy over 5 paragraphs. I encourage you to take a look at the links included here as well, many of them from prominent nonprofits and illustrating best practices in blogging. Defenders of Wildlife,,, Oxfam America, and Conservation International, are just a few of the nonprofits included in the examples.

Nonprofit Tech for Good organizes many webinars throughout the year, and I strongly encourage you to sign up based on my experience. I have only 2 comments that would add to the experience, based on other webinars I have taken: 1. time for questions -- I posted several questions to the webinar dashboard, but unfortunately they were ignored...not what you want when you are trying to grow your audience and community. 2. time for interactivity and polling -- the webinar was basically a straight lecture, so I had no direct connection with the speaker, or sense of the community involved in the webinar. These are important benefits to the user experience that Nonprofit Tech for Good should incorporate in their future webinars.

What about you? Are you blogging for your nonprofit or charged with organizing the blog? What challenges are you facing? Feel free to share in the Comments.

10 Best Blogging Tips for Nonprofits

1. Integrate blogging into your content strategy.
  • To be effective in your online communications and fundraising campaigns, particularly on social media and in email communications, you must have a consistent source of fresh content:
Blog Content: Defenders of Wildlife
News Content: International Fund for Animal Welfare

2. Host your blog within your website.
3. Be Mobile compatible.
4. Ensure that your blog is easy to read.
  • Select a white background and black text. Body font should be a minimum of 13 point and headlines should be a minimum of 18 point. 
  • Blog posts can be as short as two paragraphs. Any blog longer than six paragraphs should be well-written and formatted (numbered or bulleted lists) with images and generous spacing, or your will lose readers. 
  • Use bold and double-spacing for easy scanning of content.
5. Invest in good graphic design.
  • Invest time and/or $$$ in designing a banner for your blog that makes a good first impression and prominently feature social network icons, e-newsletter and mobile alert opt-ins, and a “Donate Now” button on your blog.
  • Custom-designed social network icons get more clicks.
6. Rotate promotional graphics.
7. Enable readers to easily comment.
  • Disqus allows readers to comment using their social networks identities.
  • Respond to comments posted on your blog when necessary. Delete comments that you think are rude and inconsiderate, but allow those that disagree respectfully. 
8. Blog at least once a week. 
  •  Blogging everyday is a myth. At minimum blog once or twice a week. That said, the more often you blog, the higher the ROI.
  • Allow guest/multiple bloggers to share expertise and experience.
9. Title blogs to optimize SEO and social sharing.
  • Consistently use keywords in your blog posts that grab the attention of readers
    and search engines.
  • Make it easy for readers to share your blog content on social networks. (Shareaholic Plugin)
  • Create blog title images for each blog post and name them to optimize visibility in
    image search.
10. Diversify your blog content.

  • The restriction that blogs must be editorial and in first-person and only about your NGO’s mission and programs, is completely outdated.
  • Summarize a breaking news story or make a statement about the news story.
  • Ask readers to donate, sign a petition, share your nonprofit’s page on Facebook, follow you on Instagram, become a volunteer, buy a t-shirt, etc.
  • Write up a brief summary about an infographic relevant to your mission and programs. Be sure to bullet point key stats in your summary. 
  • Compile a list of powerful stats relevant to your mission and programs. Update your stats at least annually, and create infographics around them as feasible.
  • When you get an idea for a blog post, create a draft of the blog post within your blog dashboard so you'll be all set up when you're ready to refine and edit it.
  • Check out 10 Other Blog Content Ideas for NGOs for more ideas!

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