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In What State Is Your Non‑Profit Blog?

you know singing in the stairwell is awesome

By now, you’ve probably read somewhere that blogging is pretty valuable for businesses and non-profits alike. An organization’s blog drives traffic to your website, produces shareable content, and allows you to connect with your audience. But like any other kind of marketing and communications tool, blogging is only effective if you’re using it strategically. So the question is: Are you doing it right?

One of our designers, Dan Lamb, who doesn’t actually own a motorcycle but is really into them and swears he will one day own one (or two), told us about the TCLOCK mnemonic that riders use to inspect their bikes before a ride. It goes like this:

Tires & Wheels
Controls
Lights
Oil
Chassis
Kickstand

We loved the idea (almost as much as Dan loves motorcycles), so we’ve developed our own mnemonic for the key elements and criteria that make a great non-profit blog, which goes like this:

Storytelling
Two-way Communication
Attractive
Thoughtful
Empathetic

Get it? STATE. For your reference and enjoyment, we’ve found four non-profits who excel at blogging and meet the STATE criteria.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation

  • St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a great example of a blog that hits hard by telling compelling stories. Their blog tells personal stories of children and families who have been affected by childhood cancer. Needless to say, the posts are incredibly moving.
  • Some posts are written by the parents of the children and others are written by staff who have interviewed the families about their journey. Photos are included in each post and the results are always poignant and emotional.
  • St. Baldrick’s varies their content by highlighting fundraisers, offering helpful tips for parents, and sharing the latest research.
  • Readers are able to comment on posts and the foundation makes sure to respond to as many as possible. St. Baldrick’s thanks readers for their comment and addresses any questions or concerns they might have.
  • Their call to action at the bottom of each post is very hard to ignore. Examples abound like: “Kids like Jonah deserve to live. You can help. Fund research into cures for childhood cancer.” Then, there is a large orange “Donate Now” button below. Oof, tough to argue with that.

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World Wildlife Fund

  • We have written about WWF previously. (They’re awesome.) The WWF blog boasts a ton of thoughtful content, all of which is divided into five different branches: Science Driven, On Balance, WWF Climate Blog, Climático (in Spanish), and Good Nature Travel.
  • Each of the branches are then subsequently divided into several categories specific to each stream. This makes it incredibly easy for visitors to find information pertaining to subjects of interest.
  • Within the sections, WWF turns posts that carry a common theme into a sort of mini series to tell a compelling story. For example, the WWF Climate Blog contains three back to back posts related to solar powered homes: Empowering Families in Need with Solar Power, Every Four Minutes, Another American Home or Business Goes Solar, and Letting the Sun Run our Home, a story of how a family made solar powered energy a priority in their home.
  • The WWF makes sure to integrate multi-media content into their posts. Each post contains at least one high-resolution photo. Others include maps, graphics, and videos.
  • The WWF is careful to vary their topics and their tone as to not sound too solemn. Some of the most powerful posts tell the story of an individual or family that is getting involved with their cause, or a personal anecdote from a staffer who is on assignment.

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TechSoup Canada

  • TechSoup Canada is a perfect example of a non-profit that uses their blog to create and curate relevant and valuable content for their audiences.
  • Though many of their blogs are on the technical side, they avoid using jargon and use plain language instead to serve a wider audience.
  • TechSoup Canada knows its audience well. They are a non-profit dedicated to helping other non-profits and charities by effectively using technology. Their blog does exactly that by sharing tools, tips, and reviews – all of topics specific to non-profits.
  • They provide a short summary of each post on the blog’s main page with a “Read More” link to the entire post.
  • They use the words “Learn More About” to describe their blog categories.
  • They use headers in each post to divvy up their content and make it easier to digest.
  • The content on their blog is fantastic; however, the design is a little lacklustre.

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Invisible Children

  • The Invisible Children website and blog are beautifully designed. The blog is clean and modern and it incorporates a lot of negative space, making their brand colours pop.
  • Invisible Children does a great job of encouraging readers to share the posts on social media. Every post ends with the words “Think people should hear about this?” with links for instant sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
  • Many of their posts also end with a powerful call to action. For example, they end their Kony posts with “We have never been closer to permanently ending the LRA conflict. Support our life-saving programs to help us dismantle the LRA and bring Kony to justice.” This then links to a donation page.
  • Invisible Children tailors their topics to their audience and focuses on providing information that they are already looking for online. For example, 2014 Ebola Outbreak Frequently Asked Questions and Kony 101: What is the LRA?
  • They also invite visitors to read more, by including a link to another post related to that particular topic. However, it seems this feature does not always work properly, as it pointed me to a Kony article while I was reading a blog post on Ebola.
  • The blog features a range of post types, from news, opinion, supporter spotlights, and FAQs. While some of the topics they cover are quite dark, each of them are written in a positive and “take action” tone.
  • Their Support Spotlight series serves Invisible Children well. It helps them thank their supporters, inspire the people who read it to get involved, and encourages the featured supporters to share the post with their own audiences.

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Each of these four non-profit blogs meet most of our useful but completely made-up STATE requirements. Know of any others that are also in a good STATE? Let us know in the comments section below!

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