Blogging is an excellent way to not only build your brand and your nonprofit’s personality, but to also help you strengthen your current community of volunteers and recruit new ones. Here are some tips to get a fun, dynamic blog up and running for your nonprofit.
Experiment with different websites.
There are a variety of different blogging websites out there that you can try out. Be sure to look around and find a blog website that is most comfortable for you. Most blog sites contain free pre-set themes and layouts so you don’t have to worry too much about appearance beyond posting a banner or logo — though if you want, you can tweak the code yourself to customize your blog’s features. The blog sites that most professionals use are either Blogger or WordPress.
Keep in mind who your audience is.
Who are you writing to in your blog? Fellow nonprofits? Potential volunteers? Current volunteers? At VolunteerMatch, for example, we are currently keeping up two blogs that serve two different audiences. Our Engaging Volunteers blog serves nonprofits, and our Volunteering is CSR blog serves corporations who want to engage their employees in community serves. Pick your audience and target all your posts towards them.
Keep it casual and open ended.
Since this is a blog, keep in mind that you can take a more casual tone when you write. Keep it short and conversational and break up your paragraphs so they’re no more than three to four sentences maximum. At the end of your post, be sure to ask a question or open up a further conversation that can be continued in the comments section.
Update frequently and provide different voices from all levels of the organization.
Make it a goal to update three to five times a week. Post it somewhere on your blog when you will update and make sure you stick to your goal.
Don’t be the only person who posts on the blog. Providing more voices in the blog offers a bigger window to current and potential volunteers about how the organization works and its personality. If you’ve got a communications team or publicity team, have each of them contribute one or two posts a week. Even have the executive director write a blog post once in a while, if they can squeeze in the time.
This is also an excellent opportunity to engage current volunteers by encouraging them to submit their own guest posts reflecting on their experience as a volunteer, or providing advice for current volunteers or potential.
Post content that inspires both current and potential volunteers.
Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Don’t just make a schedule of when you’ll post. Think ahead of time what you’ll post. What kind of content will keep current volunteers coming back and inspire potential volunteers to finally sign up?
Not only that, but what kind of unique content can you post that a reader can only get from your blog and no where else? For example, think about writing some features pieces on the origin of your organization. Does your organization have a long history? Is there a box of old photos hidden in a closet that haven’t seen the light of day in a couple decades? This might be a good time to bust out the scanner and write a features story.
Recognize your volunteers through your blog.
One way to do it would be to feature a regular “Volunteer of the Month” feature, such as one used by the Food Bank of Yolo County. Posting pictures of volunteers in action during big projects is also a good way to recognize volunteers beyond an individual level.
Links, embedded YouTube videos, and images break apart and diversify an otherwise stagnant block of text. If you’re tech savvy enough, you can even try your hand at creating your own image and video content.
Circulate your blog posts through social media.
Once you’ve got a blog post done, be sure to send out a Tweet or post a link on Facebook, and as well as wherever else you have a social media presence. Also, provide buttons that allow readers to share your blog content on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Track your progress and modify your strategy.
Which posts are getting the most views and which aren’t? Blog websites like WordPress actually contain tracking software that allows you to not only see which of your posts are the most read, but also how someone found your post, whether it was from Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Examine that data you get and be willing to change what kind of content you post and how you circulate through social media in order to maintain readers and attract new ones.
Here are some great blogs to look at for inspiration: The Salvation Army Blog The Salvation Army blog has an excellent layout scheme, with a nice big banner up top and an interactive graphic that scrolls through the highlighted stories on what volunteers have done. The blog also features a nice balance between image, video, and text. The Salvation Army also posts historical features that reflect on their past, such as this one about the Japanese internment camps of World War II. Points of Light The Points of Light blog is more text heavy, but contains a lot of good information surrounding the many aspects of volunteering, not only highlighting the Volunteer of the Week, but also providing insightful reflections and features on the benefits of volunteering. American Red Cross Blog The American Red Cross blog posts a lot of great content that covers both international and domestic stories, as well as stories from volunteers themselves. The blog also contains advice on emergency preparedness.
Does your organization have a blog that you use to engage and recognize volunteers? Let us know about it!
Cristopher Bautista is an intern at VolunteerMatch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.