Have been collecting a few pages recently about why blogging (and Web 2.0 type-stuff generally) is good/useful for (some) non-profits / social entrepreneurs / social enterprises….and I promise this isn’t just to get the boss off my back ;0)
1) TechSoup (a great resource in itself) has an interesting article with four non-profits giving their background to becoming bloggers….relevant points include:
– figuring out how blogs will add value to your clients/constituents (organisational needs must drive the technological ones; these are means to an end)
– they are an easy way to keep content fresh and relevant….but only if the blogger(s) keeps content fresh and relevant, which is one of the main challenges
– it can be therapeutic (!) to share and relate experiences, but it also helps if you have a reason to blog (debate and advocacy as well as information)
– they can build a sense of community (and reach new audiences)
– travel and event blogging are two proven uses of the technology
– not just a tool for organisational promotion / informatio provision, but also can be used (privately) as an archiving or minuting tool…
2) 10 Ways Non-Profits can use Blogs by Britt Bravo is a good introduction as well, which adds to what I’ve pulled out above. Some of her points include:
– it can be a good way to involve staff and volunteers (particularly ‘virtual’ volunteers)
– it can provide a place for resources and information FROM constituents, as well as to them (i.e. we write about SSE Fellows and their work, as well as information about social entrepreneurship….)
– a place for the community/stakeholders to voice their opinion
– and, of course, to reach potential donors / investors
3) Beth’s blog has lots of useful information; just scroll down the left-hand side of her blog for lots of useful links / introductions / explanations of del.icio.us, RSS feeds, blog-starting etc…well worth a look. One post I found from her links was Weblog Strategies for Non-Profits which has some good generic stuff and advice, and how (adventurous) organisations might want to take it to the next level (eg. give weblogs to trainees and teach them how to self-document)
4) 12 reasons why UK businesses don’t blog argues against each of those reasons in turn, thus giving you 12 reasons why businesses should, including
– blogging = SEO (search engine optimisation); i.e. it will bring more traffic to ALL your IT (public website etc); aka "Google loves weblogs"
– it is not just a US thing (even if they’re further ahead…as with all the links above)
– they are EASY to set up….why not trial? and so on…
5) Blogs are not the only fruit is an excellent article not only about blogs, but about why other web 2.0 stuff is useful. Posted by the Headshift people, who created the new Demos website. Although written a while ago (almost two years), it is still relevant and gives a good overview of where we are at, and what you might consider.
6) Also from Techsoup, Marnie Webb details 10 reasons why your organisation should start a blog. Much of which we’ve covered above, but further points include:
– you can become a trusted information source in a particular area
– a more personal voice that can engage people "on a more human level"
– you can use a variety of media very easily (even more the case now with Flickr / You Tube, Delicious et al around)
7) Marnie also points to an ‘old’ article (2003 is old, people) from NonProfit Quarterly entitled "What’s a blog and why should non-profits care?" It’s slightly dated but a good starting point if you’re beginning from scratch. Another simple overview is provided by Nancy Schwartz: Should your non-profit blog?
8) David Wilcox’s Designing for Civil Society is a great resource and a blog worth reading on this subject (he’s recently been writing about going beyond blogging to buzzing); check out his non-profit category which covers much in this area, and sign up to his feed for thinking at the forefront of social networking, knowledge and tech-design + partnerships…..
9) Another TechSoup article (yes, the US are ahead of us, although NCVO’s ICT Foresight project are trying to catch up a bit, as is the ICT Hub….+ the Media Trust), this one on the wider phenomenon of these people-centred web tools: What is Web 2.0 anyway?
10) Finally, ending on a podcasting note, check out this page for nonprofits considering their own podcasts (they whys and hows), also available as a podcast.
There’s plenty more around, often from links from the articles above, but these should give a fairly good introduction. All of the above bring out key points: blogs, podcasts and the rest are just tools, new ways to communicate, so don’t just get on board for hype; understand why you are doing it and how it fits with your overall marketing and communication objectives. On the flipside, if you do think it can make a difference to your organisation, and have thought through how and why, it is easy to set up and start writing. What is more difficult it to keep that commitment going forward, and meet the challenge of posting relevant, interesting, informative, entertaining material on a regular(ish) basis…If used effectively, though they have to be tools that social entrepreneurs and social enterprises should take into consideration, no matter how focused they are on running their organisation and project delivery. Focus on communication is also crucial.
Ultimately, what is good for businesses is good for social entrepreneur-led organisations of all types as well and, in some areas, more so given the different groups of stakeholders that third sector organisations answer to.
Next time, 10 reasons why we love lists ;0)