Notes from Blogging for Nonprofits, Jan 7, 2009


Introduction from Seth Horwitz:

We had a terrific meeting on Tuesday with a record 50(!) people who turned out in the rain.

The 5 panelists (described in the previous blog post) spanned a range of perspectives and Sam Cohen moderated an active and engaging discussion.

And Reed Gustow was kind enough to share his (very rough) notes from the panel discussion, which are appended at the bottom of this post.

After the panel discussion, we broke into two breakout groups for about 15 minutes:

  1. Nate Gasser, in his calm, competent way, demonstrated for about 15 folks how to set up a new blog in about 15 minutes.  Asking for a volunteer from the group, Whitney Blunden raised his hand, and Nate walked through setting up a blog for Operation Restoration Enterprises.  I think it’s safe to say that Whitney was thrilled with the results.  In the last day, he has added a bunch of content, and it looks great!
  2. The other breakout discussed ways in which we could support nonprofit blogging in Philly in an ongoing way.  I don’t have notes from that session, but after speaking to a number of those who participated, I’m sure we’ll be implementing something shortly to try to provide that sort of support.

All in all, I think most people enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of the evening (I know I did).  Thanks to everybody who worked on this event.

Reed Gustow’s rough notes

Blogging for Not for Profits. 01-06-09

Sam Cohen moderated. One of his projects is, Coming of Age – Inspiring Opportunities, channels baby boomers to opportunities to give back to their communities. Coming of age is made of The Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning, WHYY, Wider Horizons, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, AARP Pennsylvania

Apparently, they only located about 30 not-for-profit organization blogs in philly. Thousands of nfp orgs though. They use them for many things: advocacy, fundraising, staff recruiting etc.

The Panel

Maryann Devine. Smarts and Culture is her biz, consulting. Does mktng for arts and culture organizations. Her blog is smarts and culture. Why?  She was dir of mkt and pr at Acad of vocal arts but saw nothing out there in the way of arts mkting blogs. Writes for clients. Gives a voice to arts marketing and social media. Spends 14-16 hours a week on the blogging.

Andrew Schwalm. = does a lot of video on his blog. He has a 501c3 for this.  Also he is first person arts. Present an annual festival, yr round programming at Letage, also a salon series, people who can do memoir and documentary art. He is the comm/mkt person at First person Arts.  He is moving it to Drupal from WP. Spends 3-4 hrs on first person arts, and 8 hours on malcolmx park blog.

Judah Ferst, buzzing for change. Runs events at which people cut their hair off and donate it childrens cancer. 501C3, volunteer run. He is pres. Blog is to drive people to the home page. One of his problems is keeping content updated. He does 3 hours a week. Looking to get other board members to contribute.  And other parts of program

Dan Pantano.  Danny’s adventures at Acad of Vocal Arts. This is the premier opera conservatory in the us. Maybe 2-4 hours a week. Development is primary. Target audience (the goal) is getting the name out there internationally. Strategy is to be very up, positive. There are personality issues. Has a 3-4K person email list.

Larry Blumenthal. Resp. for web strategy Robert Wood Johnson foundation. 450Mil in grants, all in healthcare. NPR sponsor. Their Pioneer team does the blogging, they look for new ideas. Looking for alternatives to malpractices; getting health records online. They blog to break down walls. These surround the foundations, ivy tower, disconnected. This is an outdated model and they want to break those walls down. Their blog has been up for??time. Their freelance blog mgr works 8-10 hours a week.  The whole thing is building relationships. You have to give people a compelling reason to come to your blog. Like Las Vegas. Why come out to the desert unless there is a good reason to do it?  Blogs are a way to build your community. You want to reach out to and build the community you are interested in. Engaging them via your blog is one way; this is why the conversation is so important.

Sam: an issue is/can show an authentic voice. But orgs are not made of only one voice, so resolving it is hard. So how do the panelists deal with the authentic voice problem?

First Person Arts: encourage the interns to do some writing on the blog. Not as concerned with a unified voice.

RWJ – Board and management were aware of the possibility of criticism, and were nervous about it. But it didn’t happen – very few inappropriate comments. Now think they are not compelling enough, not controversial enough. Now found someone who will say controversial things and evoke a response. The person is an authority on x, so her voice is ok, even if provoking. There is a need for balance though. Be prepared for outside criticism but use it to grow. Read Naked Conversations, business oriented, how to grow from criticisms.

Another thing to do is offer comments on other people’s blogs.

Be clear with the audience about how often you will update. There is no minimum but do meet the expectations. If you start and cannot keep it up you will have a problem.

How build traffic? You have to think about other social media like twitter, other blogs etc. to let others know about your blog. Facebook allows an RSS feed to your blog. For older people, make a newsletter out of it, and email it to your list. RSS feeds can be limited to the first few lines of the blog post so they have to go to the blog to read the rest of it.

Important to ask who your audiences are.

How much does RWJ use the recipients blog? (Not the right person to ask. )

Look at your goals – what do we want? Donors? Members? Funds? Staff?

The numbers per se are not as important as  the results you get from those who do read. Quality is more important than quantity IF you get the needed results from those who do follow you.

How can the blog most help us?

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