Charities are always looking for ways to get their message in front of fresh eyes. Maybe you’ve started a Twitter account or a Facebook page, you’re speaking at a conference, or you have an exciting fundraising event coming up. You may not know it, but you have a breadth of potential content in front of you that is both relevant and interesting to your audience of donors – and when donors share this content, it reaches people who otherwise might never have known the value of the work that your charity does.
Blogging is the simplest and easiest form of content creation. Establish the goals you want to achieve, plan a publishing schedule and create an evaluation channel to measure your success. Then all you need is a clear message, a concise voice and a library of gifs. But if you need a little more guidance in setting up your charity blog, ask yourself the following questions.
What can I write about?
Absolutely anything! There are so many different directions your charity blog could take. These are just some of the blogging styles that you can use:
Insight blogging: Share original commentary and ideas on a particular trend or topic.
Resource blogging: Compile multiple sources of information for your audience and provide reasons why they should use them.
List blogging: Create a list of tips or outline steps to take in order to achieve a goal.
Data blogging: Report on data that’s been collected and the conclusions that have been drawn from it.
Event blogging: Share your impressions and opinions from events like seminars, conference, concerts or idea-sharing meet-ups.
Bridge blogging: Write about a topic that is outside your audience’s everyday reality, something relevant that they might otherwise not know about.
Interview blogging: Publish a transcript from an interview you conducted.
Guest blogging: A two-way street: ask an expert to write for your blog, and conversely you can write for other relevant blogs.
Feature blogging: Write regularly about a topical issue, and update your ideas and opinions with every post.
Response blogging: Directly respond to commentary or challenges that have impacted your work, outline your opinion and the actions that you plan to take.
You can also embed videos, pictures and other social media posts on your blogs. The more variety. the better!
Who will be reading my charity blog?
You can get a clear idea of your audience demographics from your Google Analytics account (if you don’t have a Google Analytics account, you have bigger problems to worry about than blogging.) You can see from the data we have from the Flow Caritas website that the majority of the people who visit our website are UK women between the ages of 25-34 who like pop culture, travelling and technology.
Obviously this is isn’t the be-all and end-all when we plan our blog content, but it helps to know the basics of who our audience is.
In order to write engaging blog content, you must rely on your empathy and talk about the things that are important to your readers. A blog shouldn’t be used as a newsroom to make announcements about your organisation, because that kind of news has little to no bearing on their lives. We live in a 24 hour news cycle and are constantly bombarded with information. You need to create a thumbstopper; when someone is scrolling through their phone, you want them to see a link to your charity blog and stop moving their thumb. Put yourself in the shoes of a current supporter or potential new donor and ask yourself – would you really care about reading this?
Which platform should I use?
If you want to publish directly on your website, talk to your website manager and find out what publishing capabilities your CMS (content management system) has. Otherwise, there are many different external platforms you can use for your charity blog – all with similar functions – such as WordPress, Blogger and TypePad. LinkedIn also has a publishing function for individuals, and Tumblr is a useful microblogging site that you can populate with multimedia content.
How do I know if people are engaging with my content?
Most publishing platforms already have an analytics functionality, as do social media sites. Plan how you want to share your content and how you will measure your success. Once you know where links to your charity blog will be published, you can use analytics data to track how many people are clicking on your link and measure these results against the goals you have set. A good way to estimate how many people your links might reach is to look at how many followers you have on social media and how regularly you engage with them. Assuming that you tweet about 30 times a month, your tweets could be seen by up to 10,000 people. The more you share, the more people will see your blog.
It’s also a good idea to use a link shortener such as bitly or a social media management tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer, which have their own link tracking capabilities, as well as providing information about where each click has come from. Measuring engagement is an integral part of blogging – if nobody is reading or responding to your blogs, then it’s a waste of time and effort. You can use the lack of feedback as a sign that there is room for improvement.
Remember – there’s no such thing as a bad blog. Use your feedback and evaluation channels to adjust and improve your charity blog. If you’re not getting the response you expect, keep in mind that any significant changes in online audience engagement can take from 6 months to two years. So you’d better get cracking!