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Strategic Plan and Guidelines for Non‐Profit Blogging    An introduction and step‐by‐step guide to blogging for non‐profits   

     

CVHJP           

August 12, 2010  Version 1.0 ‐ Draft 

          EFM  Elliot S. Volkman     


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Table of Contents  Introduction ......................................................................................................... 4  Purpose ................................................................................................................ 4                        Guidelines for Blogging                   Simple Rules to Follow  Content ....................................................................................................... 5  Design.......................................................................................................... 6  Multimedia.................................................................................................. 7  Sources........................................................................................................ 8                                   Strategic Plan                   CVJHP’s plan  Blogging for Awareness .............................................................................. 9  Blogging for Funds ...................................................................................... 9  Blogging for News Updates....................................................................... 10             FAQ                   Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging  Common Questions .................................................................................. 11                                                  Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Introduction    Blogs are a great way to communicate with a non-profit’s participants, while still allowing opportunity for a personal touch. By creating a basic set of guidelines and strategic plan, a blog can act as a portal for all other social media sites involved.

Purpose  The purpose of this document is to create a better understanding of why a blog is useful to a non-profit and how it can be utilized. Following these step-by-step guides and basic rules will yield a credible and informative source for all those involved with the project. The main goal of a blog is to deliver timely information to its followers and ensure there is a consistent flow of content.

  Figure 1 – Different variations of blogs. 

      Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Guidelines for Blogging                                                 

 

Simple Rules to Follow  1. 2. 3. 4.

Content Design Multimedia Sources

  1. Content  Content is one of the fist things that a person sees when looking at a blog, which means the writer needs to highlight the most important items in the lead paragraph. The following guidelines will assist the blog writer to create relevant postings and how to keep content flowing. Variations Blogs generally stick to a theme, and therefore produce consistent information the followers. If the writer is planning on using a blog for news, leave opinion matters and features out. Blogs can also be a general portal of information that consists of opinion, features, news and multimedia. Find a theme, and stick to it. Titles Begin with a relevant title that includes keywords pertaining to the article, and keep it short. Keywords in titles are often located in a postings URL, which can be picked up by search engines. This in turn will make the blog easier to find, and help people locate your information. A blog doesn’t have to follow AP style, however it couldn’t hurt. Don’t use quotation marks, periods or exclamation marks, but question marks are ok. Body Text Blog posts can vary in lengths, as there is no standard. Most blog posts do not exceed five paragraphs however. If the blog writer is going to have a long post however, placing the most important ideas in the lead would be advisable. Include the audience. Mention people who have recently been involved, funds raised or other recognitions. This will have people checking the blog constantly, and looking to contribute more. Suggesting others should blog about the non-profit is also beneficial, especially when an event or large news release is imminent. Body style Separate body paragraphs by full line breaks, and don’t indent anywhere. Blogs are more interactive when adding or embedding links into the text. Most blog content management systems allow the writer to simply highlight text and press a link button. Make sure headlines are also in a descending order (from largest to smallest) within the body. Find an appropriate font that pertains to your content. Don’t use a script, or difficult to read font, and never, ever use comic sans. To place emphasis on content in a post, don’t bold the text, underline it or put it in quotes. Just place it in a short sentence and make it into a paragraph.

Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Figure 3 – WordPress uses a simple CMS to update content from the Web or mobile device.   

2. Blog Design  The first thing a person usually notices when navigating to a blog is the design. You have less than five seconds to appeal to the person’s senses or they may simply move on. Distracting graphics, poor color schemes, cluttered content and poor graphic placement can all discourage your audience from reading the content. If you don’t have a Web developer or experience working with blog design, just choose a simple theme. Most importantly, do not add spinning graphics like the dancing baby (commonly found on websites in the 90s) to your website. It will immediately reduce credibility to the content. Blogs come in many shapes and forms, with many options for designs. Blogger has a free option to allow users to edit the blog with CSS (an advanced design style sheet) or a built in basic editor. WordPress and other blog sites also allow users to choose themes, and editor color schemes to better fit the non-profit’s concept. Keep it Modern Modern blogs have taken to the concept of minimalism. Don’t take up the full width of the page, cut all unnecessary ads, flash banners and other redundant items on a page. An example of the modern design can be found on EFM’s magazine, Play This. Blogs no longer have to look like the expected blog (post on top of posts), but there is also nothing wrong with that. A simple design and relevant, consistent updates will yield great results.

Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Figure 4 – Use relevant images, videos, polls and Twitter feeds in your posts. 

3. Multimedia  Images, video, polls, Twitter feed and the like are all useful tools in a post. Audiences have different preferences, but after extensive research, it has been noted that using images greatly increase traffic. Images can break up long spans of text and it also helps place the reader at the scene. Videos are even better, given that a tone of voice can differ from the tone of the posts content. This also helps put a face to words being expressed. Most importantly, be sure the media being used relates to the topic, or it may confuse the reader.

Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Images Images should be resized for the Web. Any program, even Microsoft Paint allows the user to convert images from larger file types (.bmp). Most blog sites also include an option to use thumbnails in place of full images. Use these to break up text, bring some life to the content or just better explain through visuals. Video Videos endure a great deal of compression when uploading them straight to blog sites. Compressed video will have strange visual errors, and make it look unfavorable. Using YouTube, a video can be uploaded up to 720p HD quality, and under 15 minutes. Videos on a blog post should not exceed five minutes however. Polls Polls are a great way to interact with your readers. If you find that there is a lack of comments, you can still confirm how they feel towards a subject by creating a poll. A simple press of the mouse and their voice is recorded. You can also tie in the poll results to another posting as well, which shows that your non-profit is listening, and how you will carry on.

Figure 5 – Polls produce useful statistics.    Twitter Feeds If you are blogging from an event live, especially one that you are hosting, you can place a Twitter feed directly into the post or on a side column. While hosting an event, people can use a predetermined hashtag (#projectv) to interact with the site. People who are unable to attend, but still want to be involved can also use the hashtag to make comments about the event. If there is a live video feed, viewers will be able to answer questions through Twitter with use of the hashtag and the feed. Share Buttons Share buttons are located throughout a blog or website, and they connect the reader to their social media sites. These share buttons automatically formats the headline, and article image (Facebook, Reddit, Digg) into a post ready for their sites. 

  4. Sources  Blogs are often thought of as the offspring of a news site. People feel that blogs are not always credible, and that is due to a lack of direct quotes and source information. If content is being borrowed from another website, it’s important to either place a hyperlink directing back to its source, or at the very bottom of the post. Not only does this create a more credible product, but it makes the blog more interactive. Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Strategic Plan  Maintaining a Successful Blog  1. Blogging for Awareness 2. Blogging for Funds 3. Blogging for News Updates

1. Blogging for Awareness  To successfully maintain a blog that raises awareness of a cause, especially one that is not well known, it’s important to bring as many facts to the table as possible. Currently CVHJP has a blog that caters to news updates. Although this is a major piece of informing followers, a steady flow of news needs to be coming in or followers will be reluctant to check the site often. Set a schedule for updates and stick to it. The best way to support the blogs audience is by having updates posted on a regular schedule. For starters a weekly post will be sufficient, and content can be increased as more content becomes available. To raise awareness for CVHJP, including features from those affected by the situation in Cape Verde would be optimal. Not only would this get a person touch to the blog, it would provide continuous content for the site. In turn all of the social media sites would be able to send out these posts, and possibly intrigue others. The use of visuals like video and photographs will be extremely important at the start of this campaign. For people to physically see the poor conditions, with evoke many of the supporter’s senses, rather than just hearsay. Factual, relevant content paired with visuals will be vital for raising awareness in the beginning.

2. Blogging for Funds  When the dining event is set in stone, it will be easier to request funds from supporters. Until there is a related event however, continually raising supporters awareness of the situation will interested them in donating to the cause. At the end of each blog post, a statement can be made, explaining the need for funds for continuous advancement of this project. Posts that contain images of the declining state will probably invoke the most emotions, so it’s important to always place a statement at the end of these. As an event nears, having a devoted page on the main website with a donation option would be ideal. Possibly obtaining donated items from Cape Verde and auctioning them would also be a relevant fund raiser. As donations come in, it’s important to recognize those who have given. You may also even provide a prize for the individual who raised the most funds in certain length of time, to promote competition for giving.

3. Blogging for News Updates  News Updates are the most common types of articles posted on a blog. These posts will generally be three to five paragraphs, and include multimedia to coincide with the text. News updates should be scheduled regularly during a week, except when there is breaking news.

      Contact Information    For questions regarding this document contact Elliot S. Volkman at evolutionfreelancemedia@gmail.com.  Blogging for Non‐Profits 


Blogging for non-profits