The other day I was aked, "Is blogging useful for non-profit or educational organizations?" My mom would be pleased to know I stifled my first thought about bears and what they do in the woods, and instead responded with something a bit more professional. Something along the lines of, "Uh, yeah, sure." Brilliant. Thankfully, I have a blog and I’m not afraid to use it to say what I should have said:
Blogging for business is about reaching and connecting with prospective customers or clients. For non-profits, it’s about reaching and connecting with prospective donors or supporters. For educational organizations, it’s a bit of both. Bottom line, it’s about connecting with people who care about what you do and bringing them into your community, where they can participate and become part of "the solution."
Non-profit organizations must assemble their communities
But more specifically, how does a blog help a non-profit organization? A blog can help raise the profile of a giving campaign, by posting about the beneficiaries of the organization. Also, if the organization has a blog-based website (e.g., WordPress as a CMS), it’s a fairly simple matter to create a landing page for a particular campaign—to which people come from an email or direct mail solicitation—that’s focused on moving people through the giving process.
Apart from a giving campaign, however, most non-profit organizations are issues based. They came into existence in response to a need their founders saw as going unfilled or inadequately addressed: homelessness, mental health issues, poverty, domestic violence, environmental issues, etc. People (at least some people) care about these issues, and some of them care enough to become part of a community they see as offering at least partial solutions, and in making donations to support the organization offering and implementing those solutions.
Because the motive is not "profit", which has negative connotations for some folks, blogging has the potential to be far more effective in helping to build communities surrounding non-profits involved with compelling issues than for most businesses.
Communities are the key to solving educational issues
Educational organizations are generally non-profit as well (but not always). If we’re talking about public schools, they face many challenges which directly impact the quality of life in the communities they serve. Most of these challenges, such as high dropout rates, teen pregnancies, violence, etc., are really community issues that are acutely manifested in the schools and require community and parental involvement to address effectively.
It baffles me, frankly, why public school administrators and teachers have not jumped into blogging and other forms of social media in a big way as a means of creating the kinds of connections and community that could help resolve some of the issues. I believe it mostly has to do with inertia and not looking hard enough for solutions to problems with which we have attained a certain comfort level, but that’s another post.
I believe blogging and other community-building opportunities have great potential to start moving public education back on a more productive and effective path.
Do you know of any non-profit/educational blogs?
If you have any examples of educational organizations or non-profits that are using blogs and social media effectively, please share them here.