Many organizations are wondering how to effectively use a blog.  The answer is,  There is more than one way.

Question number one really is, what do you want your readers to do after reading your blog?  Share the article?  Share about your company?  Refer a qualified client?  Buy something or donate?  Register for a class? Call a number for more information?  Call you to have a conversation?  Meet you at Denny’s for a free breakfast?  What?  That is the question.

The second question would be, “How?”   The following article provides several blog models from companies who have used blogs effectively for influence, commerce, news, reference and community building.

The Art of Blog

While Blogs get a bum wrap from the ignorati as being host to  useless, naval gazing monologues, it actually takes a lot to write an effective blog post.

The world’s top rated CEOs rank The Blog as the number one most important communication tool for industry influence and customer relations.   They ranked a business website sixth out of the seven listed options.   For high powered business, blogs come first.   Read more about blogging at To Blog or Nor To Blog a great article on the risks of risking your voice publicly.

Here are a few ways blogs are being used effectively.  The Art of Blog

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Nonprofit News

Flickr

A retro photo from my era via Flickr

This week: Staffing

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Peter Panepento is hosting a LinkedIn discussion on staffing trends.  How do organizations retain their best talent and survive the remainder of this economic recovery?  Is that the real issue?  The Chronicle has posted a survey and would like to know how your organization is handling staffing concerns in the down economy.

Another discussion leads to a little fundraising tool that could be very effective for social savvy nonprofits.  The tool allows staff members and supporters to generate revenue for your cause with every web search they perform.  I used one of these for a charity recently and earned them a dollar in 24 hours.  I then updated my Firefox browser and the search tool disappeared.  I’m sure we’ll reconnect soon.

My new favorite nonprofit blog, Barbara Talisman’s Talisman Thinking Out Loud My favorite category on her blog is Engaging Volunteers. My favorite article, which may become increasingly important over the next 18 to 24 months, Interview Preparation, detailing best interview practices and practical considerations when interviewing with a nonprofit.

Follow Barbara Talisman @ BTalisman and at her website www.3talisman.com

Finally, a note from Jeff Bula’s Internet Marketing Blog: “Is Twitter Dysfunctional?”  I’ll  let you read his assessment for yourself.

Last week: Beth’s Blog

Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Effectively Use Twitter Hashtags – Leveraging Hashtags

So You Want to be a Philanthropy Consultant – 15 Things to Do Now & Considerations

Social Networking Tidbits

50 Ways to Get to Get Your Give On a blog article from Mashable published last year.   You could triple this list by now.  There is some good stuff here.

Facebook now has 200 Million ACTIVE users.  If you think that’s not a giving market ripe for the picking, I don’t know what to do for you.  Facebook, in true Millennium Values fashion, continues to add features and apps for charity fundraising.   People like to give and Facebook is adding ways to play.  New Charity Fundraising Apps from Facebook.

Featured Nonprofit Blog

An excerpt from Jeff’s latest post:

“The biggest roadblock to humanitarian work around the world is lack of local ownership. Throwing western aid at poor countries actually fosters that mentailty.

That’s why in our TCD model we don’t do ANYTHING in a village unless they have decided it needs done and have invested of themselves FIRST.”

This blog serves most obviously as an accountability record of the consistent and tangible progress this organization makes in restoring villages and communities that have been impacted by war, illness and famine.   This blog features stories from the field effectively keeping donors and volunteers educated, informed and up to date with program outcomes and upcoming projects.  It’s attractive and always accurate. Zero fluff here.

Tweaked My Heartstrings This Week

I fell in love with these and have to share them.  These just look like cookies you’d eat on a Summer afternoon.  Got to get that last little bit of summer in.   Banana Flip Cookies

Go Betty

2074534254_8bb27afbcf_tThis is an old Donor Bill of Rights from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. I haven’t checked to see if they’ve published an updated version. I think it is worth consideration as is.

“Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

  • To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
  • To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgement in its stewardship responsibilities.
  • To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
  • To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  • To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  • To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by the law.
  • To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
  • To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
  • To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
  • To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.”

Reference:

Ciconte, Barabara L. “Fundraising Basics” Philanthropy – An American Tradition Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2005, p.3

22948938_7fc4fa44ce_tConsider the following list of volunteer ‘rights’.  Which ones are already adopted by your volunteer program?  Which ones are missing?

1.  The right to be treated as a co-worker, not just as free help, not as a prima donna.

2.  The right to a suitable assignment, with consideration for personal preference, temperament, life experience, education, and employment background.

3. The right to know as much about the organization as possible – its policies, its people, its programs.

4. The right to training fo the job, thoughtfully planned and effectively presented training.

5. The right to continuing education on the job – as a follow-up to initial training – including information about new developments and training for greater responsibility.

6. The right to sound guidance and direction by someone who is experienced, well informed, patient, and thoughtful, and who has the time to invest in giving guidance.

7. The right to a place to work – an orderly, designated place, conducive to work and worthy of the job to be done.

8. The right to promotion and a variety of experiences – through advancement to assignments of more responsibility, through transfer from one activity to another, through special assignments.

9.  The right to be heard – to have a part in planning, to feel free to make suggestions, to have respect shown for an honest opinion.

10.  The right to recognition, in the form of promotion and awards, through day-by-day expressions of appreciaion, and by being treated as a bona fide co-worker.

Reference:

Ciconte, Barabara L.  “Fundraising Basics” Philanthropy – An American Tradition Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2005, p.3 Reprinted with permission from The Points of Light Foundation, Making Volunteers Feel at Home, 1996

2667652948_020781c94bCollaborative programming, collaborative services, collaborative marketing.  It’s a time for making dollars stretch.  Nonprofits are collaborating as a means for responsible budget management and also as a way to powerfully maximize a donated dollar.

This is a must read article:   http://www.minnpost.com/scottrussell/2009/08/21/10990/nonprofit_entrepreneurs_ponder_joint_website_to_boost_business

There is a feeling in the nonprofit fundraising world that all the causes are looking for the same piece of funding pie, market share, volunteer pool.  The idea seems to be carrying into the online fundraising arena.  What is actually available, though, are new levels of engagement with people who you may never have had access to before and the opportunity to mobilize them on your behalf at unprecedented levels.

I stole this post from Beth’s Blog, the ‘go to’ resource for nonprofits using Social Media.   This copy below is a chunk from the original post.  It lists and describes the 5 stages of building a relationship with donors.  I wanted to share it.   It is edited for brevity, you can read the entire article here.


The Five Phases

Online movements are successful because they marry the right set of opportunities for engagement with a level of awareness and passion among the target audience.

Let’s review: Its not about the technology.

Strategic organizations must move through five phases of relationship building in order to establish a trusted relationship with a long term giver or supporter: 1) Listening, 2) Introduction, 3) Education, 4) Engagement, and finally 5) Mobilization

3199587450_539c5da185Listening: Before you launch any communications effort, it is necessary that the organization understand more thoroughly who the online audience is, what their interest and willingness to participate in your efforts might include and are driven by, and what will drive them to engage and take action around this issue.  The social rules now are continuously changing so stay plugged in.

Introduction: Organizations need to find ways to put issues in front of their target audience – to generate interest, prompt curiosity, and begin to build awareness.  Introduce key voices representing the organization and their work. Seed discussions about your issues by participating in existing  social networking and community conversations and sites where the target audience is likely to spend time.  Reach out to bloggers.   Encourage supporters to speak for your cause.  A strong introduction and increased attention fuel what follows.

134329985_d9259a07fdEducation: Cause administrators  often underestimate the complexity of their issues.  The result – low levels of participation and limited impact.  The solution – when issues are complex organizations need to spend significant time and energy educating. Engage your target audience, with response driven content, polls, public inquiries, live forums, interactive blog posts.  Regardless of  form, the results of target audience education and self education should be in place before any significant outreach effort has begun.  This allows, effective use of time and resources, invested audiences, accuracy of intent and participant ownership in the cause or endeavor.

Engagement: Engagement happens at the level of signing a petition or recruiting a friend  to empowered citizens creating and initiating new  actions to help grow and expand a campaign.  As awareness and understanding about the issue grows, it is possible to engage the audience more deeply, and to further expand the reach and impact of the campaign.  Until that happens, moving quickly to request action or financial commitment from your audience won’t work.   A single donation, particularly one resulting from a relationship to someone who is already part of your network, does not mean that your new supporter is interested in a relationship with your organization.  Organizations need to identify ways the target audience can engage and participate meaningfully and provide interactive tools and support to make that possible.

1795262311_0ba9429de1Mobilization: Finally, organizations will need to identify ways to activate and mobilize its audience,  beyond building a large list, sending emails to Congress, or signing a petition.   Those activities are not  sufficient to bring about the level of engagement that builds large sustainable action groups.   In fact, the very nature of Facebook Causes — and its ability to standardize and simplify the ways that audiences can get involved in issues online — now means that every group needs to find new and better ways to distinguish themselves and their work.

The challenge seems to be developing engaging strategies to  continuously engage and reengage those one time givers and clickers to come back for more.  Have participation centers, like blogs, microblogs, wikis, pages, and groups.  Offer subscribers and followers something in the way of video, education tools, events, tours, or benefit programs to keep donors participating.  Schedule your ask events as or at the culmination of a series of other events.   Make your cause their cause.   Your job is to empower your target market to actualize your policy and fundraising objectives.  They won’t do that if you’re not standing with them.  Get to know your audience and what is important to them so that they’ll know what’s important to you.

Nonprofit News:

Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Effectively Use Twitter Hashtags – Leveraging Hashtags

90 Foundations that Tweet – Philanthropy411

So You Want to be a Philanthropy Consultant – 15 Things to Do Now & Considerations

Social Networking Tidbits:

Fill the Gap:  A great use of Flickr to engage, include and educate the public in the Smithsonians identity, brand and service model by allowing them to choose what will hang in an exhibit.  – The Bamboo Project Blog – Dreamy donor and volunteer engagement model… Nice work.

Tweaked my Heartstrings:
Hee hee!  Rebel… Link

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