Should Nonprofits Blog?

Several months ago, I gave a marketing presentation at a nonprofit conference.  At the conclusion of my presentation, I suggested that if the participants did nothing else new, that they leave the workshop and start blogging. Earlier in the presentation, I had told them it was an incredibly powerful marketing tool that had the potential to significantly increase the fee for service side of their business and gave them information about how effective blogging was as an inbound marketing tool.

As I told them to go home and begin blogging, many of them sat with their mouths agape.  A few audibly gasped.  I probed for information–was it the time involved? Not liking writing? Lacking content ideas? But the session time was over and I think they were too confused, polite, and rushed to say anything so they left.

As I was leaving the building, a few workshop attendees approached me in the parking lot. One said, “A few of us wanted to talk to you because we were puzzled. You said it was really important to blog but we had just attended a fundraising workshop, before your workshop, on major gifts and the workshop presenter had said “Blogging is a complete waste of time. It won’t raise major gifts for you and you need to be getting major gifts.”

Wow.  Great to know what the confusion was about. We were able to have a terrific discussion. My only regret was that we couldn’t all have the discussion with the other presenter with us.  We could have had a really interesting exchange because I understand why he said what he said and in a way he is right. You certainly don’t ask for or receive a major gift because of anything you’ve written in a blog or posted on your website. 

HOWEVER, I think he has missed the point. 

After a major gifts prospect is identified, you cultivate that prospect individually (not through mass communications) with a customized plan. You make personal visits to see the prospect. You call, write, and invite the major gift prospect individually. A blog is irrelevant.

But way back, before that major gift prospect was a prospect, they were introduced to the organization in some way. Maybe they found the organization, perhaps through your blog? Or maybe they were introduced to the organization by another donor who initially met the organization as a volunteer who connected with the organization through your website? 

From the perspective of a major gifts officer, yes, the Facebook posts, email newsletters, and so many other things that communications and marketing professionals at nonprofit organizations do might seem irrelevant, but they are not. These are all things that contribute to feeding the major gifts pipeline. They introduce new people to the organization. This is how we bring people into the fold of our family. Try cutting off all these communications and marketing tools and seeing how long the organization could continue (actually, don’t try that really–I meant: imagine trying that.  Actually trying it would be an incredibly bad idea).  

Because people have so come to ignore the onslaught of push media, marketers have learned that inbound marketing is the way to go and blogging is one of the most effective ways to do it.  Should nonprofit organizations be in on that game?  Absolutely, writes this CFRE who works with both major gifts AND communications and marketing.


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