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Monday, November 14, 2005

 

Non-profit organizations: A blog can help

Blogs are an ideal addition to any non-profit organization. Blogs work well, either as a blog section within the non-profit site, or as a free standing blog linked to and from the organizational website.

Non-profit organizations include charities, industry organizations, trade unions, and Chambers of Commerce.

The goal of any non-profit is not to turn a financial profit in the generally accepted sense. Their goal is to put forward the causes and interests of the organization's membership. Non-profit organizations will have various goals to achieve, and a blog is a natural vehicle to reach those worthy goals.

The value of blogs to any non-profit orgainzation is almost unlimited.

First of all, a blog provides a powerful informational vehicle for the association. The Board of Directors and association staff can keep the membership up to date with the latest initiatives and activities of the organization. Information for the membership can often be very time sensitive. A blog can provide almost immediate information distribution to the membership, the media, and other interested parties. The lead time for printing a hard copy magazine, or even preparing an online newsletter are unable to be as instantaneous as a blog.

Because a blog is constantly updated, with fresh content, the organizational leaders can maintain up to the minute contact with the members. When combined with the power of the organization's existing e-mail newsletter and print publications, the blog completes the informational time consideration with its immediacy.

Since one of the major difficulties faced by many non-profit organization is membership recruitment and retention, a blog can display the benefits of membership, in real time. Regular postings of how members received tangible benefits from joining the non-profit, can be a useful and interesting series on the blog. The more informal language of the blog enables the organization to provide a more personal touch with the recruitment effort.

Blogs help the organization in recruiting volunteers for its many activities, from policy committees to fund raising to membership recruitment drives. Openly posting notices of upcoming association events will attract volunteers from the readership. By keeping the membership updated constantly with information about the organization and its events, volunteers are much more likely to step forward to lend a hand.

A blog serves avaluable public relations function for both local and regional news media. Even the national media may pick up stories from a smaller local non-profit organization's blog. Journalists are known to read many blogs on a daily basis, searching for newsworthy article ideas. By posting the policy positions on the blog, as well as distributing them by way of traditional press releases, the story has a greater chance of coverage in the media.

Constant updates about activities and initiatives, written about on the blog, can go far to helping journalists write about your organization. By making certain that the blog is updated on a regular basis, and providing newsworthy information of interest to the entire community, the blog can achieve a wide media audience. The blog can also help the organization to develop stronger working relationships with media personnl.

Often, non-profit organizations fall victim to some bad press coverage. A blog can get the organization's message out to the news media in a hurry. A rapid response, to real or perceived problems, will go far in enhancing the association's image and reputation in the community. An organization that addresses issues on an immediate manner, and often in real time as events unfold, may be more highly regarded in the opinion of the average citizen. The blog provides that instant communication to the media and the public.

Fund raising can gain a boost from the blog as well. By regularly highlighting how the money raised by the organization, has helped real people overcome their challenges, the blog will make raising donation levels much easier. Real life stories, focussing on real people will assist fund raising efforts as the potential donor can visualize the good works of the organization. Easier volunteer fund raiser recruitment will be another positive result, of the charity's success stories, as they appear on the blog.

Chambers of Commerce, attempting to gain public support for business, will do very well with blogs. By showing the general public and their elected representatives, how a strong vibrant business community benefits everyone, with more jobs and a stronger local tax base, support for business will grow. A strong business community benefits the economy in many ways that often go unreported in the media. The blog can help journalists uncover those important business and economic success stories.

Many businesses already maintain blogs, and will happily link to the Chamber's blog. Small businesses, in particular, will benefit from being part of the Chamber of Commerce reciprocal links from its blog. Association with other successful businesses, and the networking opportunities afforded through working together, can form another frequent posting idea for the organizations involved. Some examples would include a company underwriting an arts or cultural organization, funding a new medical breakthrough, or sponsoring a community recreational facility. Of course, the possibilities for shared benefits for everyone are endless.

As you can see, blogs have much to offer to non-profit organizations. The benefits of a blog to association leaders and managers are almost endless.

It's time your non-profit organization added a blog to its communications program.

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