How to Create an Effective Nonprofit Blog: 3 Tips
Having a strong online presence is not up for debate, and your nonprofit’s website is critical to building that presence effectively. Whether your donors follow links to your website or discover it organically through online searches, they can use it to learn about your mission and values, read updates on your operations, and contribute through your donation page.
Despite their obvious importance, too many nonprofits neglect their websites. Once a few pages and tools are up and running, you can easily get caught up in other work and forget to revisit and refresh your website. While you should be conducting regular website audits, we also suggest creating and maintaining a blog to keep up with your website and consistently provide fresh content.
Blogging takes more than just adding words and pictures to a blog roll. To set up a blog that people want to visit and read, you’ll need to follow three vital tips:
You’ll also need the tools necessary for putting these tips into action. The best tool you can invest in is a CMS built for nonprofits, which will help you design a beautiful and attention-grabbing blog. Let’s get started putting you on the path to becoming a blogging master by diving into our first tip.
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1. Brand Your Blog
Your nonprofit’s brand is made up of everything that distinguishes your organization from other organizations. This includes your mission, values, and standing in the community, as well as the following visual elements:
- Logos: Your nonprofit’s logo is a symbol or icon that is easily recognizable and relates to your cause. Prominently display your logo on your blog by including it on each of your post’s headers and graphics.
- Color Schemes: The color scheme you use on your blog should match the rest of your website and, if possible, relate to your mission. For example, if your organization is focused on forest conservation, you might lean into earthy green and brown tones. Showcase your color scheme in your blog posts by incorporating it into your graphics or highlighting links in one of your chosen colors.
- Fonts: Use professional and readable fonts to ensure that all of your posts can be read without issue. Sans serif fonts typically look best in a digital format and provide the most optimal reading experience.
Morweb’s roundup of the best nonprofit websites shows that the top websites have consistent branding across the board, including their blogs.
Consistent visual branding makes each blog post feel tightly connected to your overall mission. Plus, this consistency signals to your website visitors and blog readers that you’re organized and professional, which can go a long way in building and maintaining your organization’s reputation.
2. Be a Storyteller
The most important part of an effective blog is the blog posts themselves. And because you typically have only 15 seconds to capture a site visitor’s attention, every word counts. It takes work to learn how to write great blog posts, but it can pay off when readers:
- Want to read the entire post.
- Decide to explore other parts of your website.
- Share posts on social media.
- Feel inspired to take some sort of action, like signing up for your newsletter, becoming a volunteer, or making a donation.
So, how can you write blog posts that help you get results like these? The answer lies in learning how to tell stories. Here are four best practices to get you sharing stories that will capture your readers’ attention and sense of responsibility toward your mission:
- Find the human element: People like hearing stories about other people. Human stories help us connect to others and experience empathy, forging an emotional connection that motivates us to act. In your blog posts, try to focus on the human element. For example, instead of generally talking about the importance of corporate matching gift programs, tell the story of one specific donor who doubled their contribution thanks to their employer. This is a more meaningful and interesting approach.
- Use descriptive language: Remember when your English teacher said, “Show, don’t tell?” They were giving you sound advice! Descriptive language grounds a reader in a story, making their imagination come to life and helping them experience the ups and downs of the story right alongside the characters in it. One great technique for using descriptive language is to employ all five senses to describe something. For example, you might start describing your organization’s recent gala by talking about the smell of the filet mignon at dinner, the feel of the warm air in the ballroom, the bright lights on the dance floor, the taste of your signature cocktail, and the sound of big band music blaring in the background.
- Keep it short. The people clicking through to your blog posts aren’t looking to read Les Miserables. To keep them reading, make your stories short and to the point. It can be tricky to embrace brevity, but a short blog post that is rich in detail will get much more attention than a 50,000-word manifesto.
- Stick to a schedule: Just as magazine subscribers expect to get their copy of Vogue or Better Homes and Gardens each month, your readers expect you to produce blog content consistently, especially if they subscribe to your blog. To stay on track, make and stick to a blogging schedule. For example, you might post a new blog once a week or every other Tuesday. When your readers know they can count on great content being published consistently on your nonprofit’s website, they’ll keep reading your blog.
Great storytelling takes practice, but these best practices can help you jumpstart your efforts. You’ll also need to develop a knack for choosing the best stories to tell. Try putting yourself in your readers’ shoes and anticipate what they want and need to know about your work.
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3. Use Strong Visuals
Though blogging is primarily driven by writing, visuals are critical for connecting with your readers’ emotions and providing a different way of taking in information. Here are some different ways to incorporate photos, graphics, and videos into your blog posts:
- Pick a graphic design style and use it consistently. Will you use stock photos on your blog? Will your photos always be black and white? Being consistent with the type of photos you use will make your blog look more organized and professional.
- Use pictures of real people. Just as focusing on an individual in your writing can boost your readers’ experience with a blog post, using pictures of real people can also bring out the human element of your stories. Share pictures of your beneficiaries, volunteers, board members, and staff to inspire your readers.
- Include emotionally evocative videos. Video is a great medium for encouraging people to feel something. Try creating short videos that introduce your supporters to a beneficiary or provide an overview of your mission, and pair the footage with inspirational music. You can embed videos in your posts to encourage further engagement with your blog.
- Add graphics to demonstrate impact. Graphics can provide an illustration of important information. For example, if you’re trying to communicate a significant jump in donations you’ve had in the past five years, a graph or pie chart can deliver that information in a much more interesting and impactful way than text alone.
Visuals are an important part of your blog, but it can be easy to overcrowd your posts with them. Remember to keep it simple and to ensure that your visuals enhance the writing instead of distracting it.
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Blogging can be a part of an effective donor communication cadence, especially as you rely on branding, storytelling, and great visuals to provide regular updates about your efforts to move your mission forward. As you embark on your blogging journey, remember to use a nonprofit CMS and follow these tips to improve your blog’s engagement levels.
About the author:
Murad Bushnaq, Founder and CEO, Morweb
Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.