Using Blogging to Fundraise

by Jason Dick · 5 comments

Recently a reader posted a question in the ideas, questions & answers area of the site. Rephrased here is her question:

How can blogging help us fundraise, increase our visibility and how can I use technology to engage new donors?

Blogging is a unique kind of conversation. People have the opportunity to read a multitude of opinions and ideas very quickly. Since I started this blog about fundraising I have been impressed with the amount of fundraising and non-profit blogs that are out there. I am equally amazed at the brilliant comments and insightful conversations that are happening all across America. Overall it has allowed me to ask questions and promote ideas.

The point of blogging can’t be to raise or make money it has to be something more. A blog has to exist to tell a story or talk about a topic/issue. For you it might be, “how can I raise awareness for my organization and how can I link my donors and volunteers closer to the mission of the organization?” For me it is to answer non-profit’s questions about fundraising and provide some advice and ideas on how to do fundraising. You can have your blog mention programs or areas that need funding but I would do that by talking about your program and providing a link back to your non-profit’s website to make a donation.

I am relatively new to blogging so I thought it would be worthwhile to provide you with some links to non-profit blogging experts. Here is some advice from the experts:
Non-profit Marketing Blog

“Don’t ask should we blog? Ask, is blogging a good way to connect with our audience?”

Comment on the dangers of blogging from an earlier post:

“What’s key about blogging is that it be open and authentic. In my mind that means that the CEO (or whomever’s name is on the blog) actually do the writing, without a lot of organizational filtering from PR-like departments.”

Two posts from Tactical Philanthropy:
Blogs aren’t for everyone
Does Blogging Substitute Real Action

A note about the old ways of fundraising:
I don’t think that the old ways of fundraising are dead, but they are not always as successful as they use to be. The days of paper direct mail, and telephone campaigns are not over. I know of countless organizations that use both of those “tried and true” methods and they work really well. But I also know that online giving is growing exponentially every year. Non-profits need to make sure that they are linking to their donors and volunteers by providing online giving, enewsletters, and I think blogging could be another way.

Do you have any thoughts, additions or success stories that you’ve heard, leave a comment. I know many of you in the non-profit blogging community have expertise answering this question.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris D. January 2, 2008 at 9:52 am

To add my $.02 to this…I agree with quoted comment “Don’t ask ‘should we blog’”…however, blogs are the new cell phone. Everybody has one, everybody thinks there’s is the coolest, and everybody wants your number. Just having a blog doesn’t make you stand out.

What can you do to make yours unique? What are you going to provide to me, the reader, that goes beyond “Uh, we need cash to fund our program, here’s the project we did last weekend.”

Think about the reader selfishly. What are THEY going to get from it? What can you give them for their most precious commodity, time? What’s the over the top thing that seperates you from every other company blog out there?

Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) coins this “The Purple Cow.” As in, cows are boring…you see a lot of them on the side of the road. But what if you saw a Purple cow? Wouldn’t that be amazing, and something to tell everyone about?

~Chris

Reply

Leo January 2, 2008 at 4:39 pm

“Ask, is blogging a good way to connect with our audience?”

That line skips a step.

Who’s your audience?

Specifically is a blog the right way to connect with them?
If you write it, will they come? No guarantees.

A CEO can blog up a storm, but if it’s not reaching the
intended audience, what’s the point?

A blog is nothing more, or less, than a communications tool.
It’s an appropriate tool for many things, and the wrong tool
for many more.

Examples: You might use a blog to keep major donors
informed. Perhaps it’s a way to keep politically minded
supporters informed of efforts and opportunities. Perhaps
it’s a way to keep peers (other NP’s) informed of your
efforts, or to spark inter-organization discussions.

It is a good way to connect with your actual clientèle?
THAT depends on what you are – social service agency?
Probably not appropriate. An arts organization? Could be
dramatically effective.

Blogging isn’t something you do, it’s a tool you use while
doing something else: communicate with an audience.

Understanding that audience is key to being effective.

Reply

Michael Ben-Nes January 3, 2008 at 2:11 am

Hi Jason,

If you are interested in a new alternative for online fundraising, take a look at GiveStream ( http://www.givestream.com ). It offers a set of free and easy-to-use online fundraising and community-building tools that help nonprofits create their own branded easy giving center.

Ill be happy to discuss this further with you.

Reply

David Thulson January 8, 2008 at 2:05 pm

While I hope you wouldn’t do this, I wouldn’t read a blog that is constantly asking for donations or volunteers or whatever. It seems like letting people know about needs is good, and a blog is potentially a helpful way to do that. However, I think it’s more important that you have good content describing what your organization does, and most of all that shows that your organization does something worthwhile. You obviously care about the organization, so your audience will too without you having to play too many games. Explain why you care about it enough to do the fundraising for the organization. Do something meaning, tell people about it in a professional manner, and let them know how they can help.

As kind of a side note: if/when you do explicitly mention fundraising or ask for donations, make sure you include direct links to information about how people can contribute or even a direct link to an online donations page if your organization does that. There is nothing more frustrating than being ready and willing to take some action, only to have to go dig through several pages to find out how to actually do it. Direct links can help to get rid of that. Actually, in case you don’t have something like this already, a page that includes your organizations needs and clear instructions for how people can contribute is really important. My experience with that is people contributing time/skills to an open source project, but I expect it is very similar for people contributing financially to non-profits. Also, I’m not sure if by “fundraising” you mean individual donations or something more like large-scale corporate sponsorships or what. Maybe this won’t apply to you, but hopefully that is of some value…

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