The word "blog" is short for "web log", and means keeping a journal or diary online. Blogging is NOT a new concept -- people have been doing it long before it had a snazzy media label. People wrote journals and diaries online on the first web sites, as well as via even the earliest online discussion groups (see A Brief Review of the Early History of Nonprofits and the Internet for more information).
And blogs aren't passé either. Yes, there are a lot of people that don't read them - but there are a lot that do. The appeal of blogging for an online audience is that it is more personal and less formal than other information on a web site or in email newsletter. Readers who want to connect with an organization or a particular department of an organization on a more personal level, or who are more intensely interested in an organization than the general public as a whole, love blogs.
Blogs can have lots of "I" statements, and feel more like someone speaking and less like a PR piece. They are an opportunity to not just relate information, but to relate feelings and opinions.
Not every mission-based/civil society organization needs a blog. Blogs must be frequently updated, should be part of an already well-traveled web site or well-established online presence of a nonprofit organization. Blogs should be part of the many reasons to visit your organization's web site regularly. Blogs should not subsitute for a regular web site. Blogs should also be published regularly, certainly at least once a month.
If your organization chooses to have a blog, you do NOT need special software: you can upload blog entries just as you do regular web pages. If you want to enable people to post comments about individual blog entries (and approve them before they appear), then you will have to chose a platform outside of your regular web site or you will have to obtain software that allows you to blog directly on your web site.
Before we talk about platforms and software, however, let's talk about content, which is the most important feature of a blog.
Blogs can come from your Executive Director, your volunteer manager, the head of client services, other staff members, volunteers, and even those you serve. Content options are many:
What platform should you use? There are a huge number of free platforms out there -- so many, and changing so frequently, that I'm not going to list them here. You will be able to find lists of blogging platforms at TechSoup as well as any search on Google. While it's fine to blog on FaceBook or to micro-blog (limited to 140 characters) on Twitter, be aware that someone has to be a user of such a "closed" platform in order to read your blog, and not everyone is on those platforms. When you look at blog platforms, look for something that does NOT require someone to login to anything or create an account in order to simply read your blog (but requiring a login to comment is just fine).
My own blog features regular updates about my web site, and resources and issues relating to mission-based organizations (nonprofits, non-governmental organizations/NGOs, civil society, and public sector agencies). The blog provides a way for readers to post comments as well.
You can befriend me via my Facebook professional profile, where I post links to my most-recent blog posts, micro-blog and offer comments on other people's FB profiles.
You can, indeed, follow me Twitter at @jcravens42 to know when I update my blog or send a new Tech4Impact email newsletter.
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