5 reasons why not for profit blogs fail

An audit of the blogging efforts of the UK’s leading charities reveals that more than half are either dormant, poorly updated, unfocussed and, inevitably, failing to deliver the potential that blogging can offer not for profit organisation. If you think this is a questionable assertion then go look for yourself. You will find blogs that are hidden away in the depths of websites, blogs that have no obvious purpose, blogs that masquerade as ‘news’ pages and, worst, blogs that are not there at all.

Of course there are excellent examples of good blogging practice for not-for-profits but it is worth asking yourself how did so many otherwise excellent organisations get to this pass? What are the worst reasons for not-for-profit blogging? Why does a not-for-profit blog become out-of-date? Why don’t people know what to write in a not-for-profit blog? So often this goes back to why the blog was set up in the first place and, as with much in marketing and communications, a consequential failure of strategy.

Only Following Orders

The uncomfortable fact is quite a number of organisations haven’t any real idea how they ended up with a blog in the first place. The reality is when they last renewed or refreshed their website they were told by theweb designers that having a blog was a good idea and they ‘threw it in’ with the rest of the job or it was justanother of the bells and whistles in the webco’s sales pitch. There may even have been a justification of the benefits a having a blog are for a not for profit bring, but no idea of where it meshed with the organisation’s strategy or how they would manage a blog.

Our Blog is a Hostess Trolley

When I was younger my late mother desperately wanted a hostess trolley. She didn’t entertain and there were only the three of us – so she had no ‘core business requirement’ for a hostess trolley. The only reason she wanted one is because “everyone else is getting one” – or so she thought. Fashion is a powerful thing. And so it was with blogs, ‘they’ve got one, so we should get one’, though the purpose was less than clear. My mother used her hostess trolley about twice in 30 plus years. Is your blog a hostess trolley?

Work Experience

I never cease to be amazed by managers who are prepared to hand over emerging communications trends to interns. It’s usually because they can’t be bothered to learn themselves. One manager told me ‘we didn’t know anything about it, so we gave it to the intern and when she left nobody kept it up’. It’s more common than you think. Managers and leaders are busy people but part of leadership is understanding the importance of emerging trends and where they fit into a strategy.

The Income Opportunity

“We heard you could sell advertising on a blog, but it didn’t produce anything”, is something else I was told. Of course this not-for-profit leader was quite right – a well-run, popular blog with the right amount of traffic can carry advertising – but if that is the prime motivation then failure awaits. It takes a lot of work to establish a level of traffic that will produce significant advertising income and that’s before you consider the complications that carrying advertising presents for not-for-profits. Don’t dismiss the possibility of advertising income but it has to be viewed as a bonus.

The Quick Win

Effective blogging for not-for-profit can improve engagement with supporters, produce more donations and provide a means through which new clients can find your organisation. But blogging is a medium to long term strategy through which results will be produced over months and years rather than in days and weeks.Seeing the process as a ‘quick win’ is a mistake – it will lead to disillusionment and to another neglected or abandoned blog. Go into the process with the right expectations and you are more likely to succeed.

So what about the good reasons for non-profit blogging

Blogging is an essential part of a not-for-profit content marketing or inbound marketing strategy. Through an effective and well-managed blog NGOs, charities and nonprofit businesses can improve engagement:

  • Develop better lines of communication with your customers,
  • Be found online by the people who need the services you offer, and
  • Tell your stories that show how you make a difference.

Supporters, volunteers and donors want to make a difference and your blog gives you a productive and interactive means of not only broadcasting but receiving, learning more about your audience and in doing so establishing your authority in your chosen segment as well as building better search engine results in the areas your audience cares about.

All of these things will only come about if the blog is at the heart of your digital strategy and becomes part of your communications plan. If it isn’t there right now, it’s time to revisit.



revised from the Public Impact Blog, 30.10.14

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