Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shall We Blog? Lets Say the Answer Is Yes....Part 1

Part 1: What About Content

Before you start, have a plan for the blog. Have a headline statement about what the blog is about, and include the mission of your organization. Make yourself a list of the types of posts you will have – for example – advocacy, news about topics pertinent to your mission, events, your fundraising needs, volunteer, staff and client highlights. The content should be focused but varied. For instance my blog is focused in that it covers topics of interest to nonprofits and varied in that it covers topics in all areas of my consulting.

Blogs are really a very different type of communication tool than your website. Your website should be concise and well organized. People go to your website when they are looking for specific information. People go to blogs to see what you are saying and what is new....not with a particular informational objective. You want to interest them, have something fresh for them to think about and perhaps surprise them. One of the great things about blogs versus websites is the opportunity for relationship building. People go to blogs on a regular basis rather than occasionally.

Most blogs are written from an indivudual’s perspective and have a personal touch. As an example, if you are blogging about an event, don’t just have it be an announcement, give a personal perspective of what you are looking forward to or what happened to you last year. Or even you are hoping for good weather if it is an outdoor event.

You do not have to blog everyday. Large political campaigns with a staff dedicated to this stuff may blog everyday but you do not want this to become an ordeal that swallows up more time than it deserves, it really should be a fun project. Try to post at least twice a month - once a week is even better. If you skip whole months, your blog will become stale and worst of all...unvisited.

An effective policy for blogs is to have links to other websites or blogs. This kind of networking that blogging offers so well is very popular. If you quote or reference other articles, websites, blogs. etc provide a link.

My next post will have some suggestions for technical details on how to make your blog more effective. (Note..this is the teaser to get you to come back. I hope you will and suggest you try this technique also.)

To summarize – Have a plan, be creative and spontaneous and enjoy!

Marion Conway Consulting

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shall We Blog? Shall We Blog? Shall We Blog?

Even small nonprofits are past the "Should we have a website?" stage and now many are beginning to explore blogging. I think that blogging is finally past "techies and nerds only" and is definitely going mainstream. It is time for nonprofits - both large and small - to get onboard. My suggestion is that you start out by reading blogs and try to savor them like a fine wine. They really are very different than websites which try to provide information in a straightforward manner. Blogs are timely, editorializing is perfectly ok, and informal. So much more fun than websites....See what I mean.

Anyway, this is the first of at least a two step post on blogging. The very first step is to read blogs to get a sense of what blogging is all about. has a section called "Give and Take" which provides a long list of nonprofit blogs.

Give and Take

Here are some of my favorites.

AFP Blog: Recent News of Note
This blog contains assorted news and commentary on the fundraising profession and philanthropy gathered by the AFP Fundraising Resource Center.
AFP Blog

The Nonprofit and Foundation Advocacy Blog
This forum is hosted by Alliance for Justice to strengthen the voices of nonprofits and foundations and to provide a better understanding of the laws that govern their participation in the policy process.
The Nonprofit and Foundation Advocacy Blog

This blog by Laura Quinn, the incomparable authority on technology for nonprofits, is a great resource for technology news of interest to nonprofits.

Check back for more posts on this subject. And please share with all of those who visit this blog what your favorite nonprofit blogs are. Just post your comment to this post.

Marion Conway Consulting

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Accountability and Transparency - Articles of Good Governance

These days many nonprofits are concerned about good governance and adopting new policies as they step up to better governance. Two of the most discussed "articles of good governance" that you hear talked about are ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY. But what exactly do we mean by these terms. The Guidestar eNewsletter had as its question of the month: "What documents does your organization use to demonstrate accountability and transparency to your donors and funders?

Topping the list were audited financials and an annual report. But showing up on more lists are conflict of interest, document retention/destruction and whistleblower policies. Apparently everyone, even nonprofits, have heard of Sarbanes Oxley.

Guidestar's report includes their definition of transparency and I thought I'd share it with you on this blog. It is straightforward and should be easy for even a small nonprofit to adopt.

Straight from their eNewsletter.....
At GuideStar, we think transparency means answering these questions for donors and funders:

Is this a legitimate 501(c)(3) nonprofit?
What social impact will my donation have?
How fiscally responsible is this organization?
What are this organization's goals and intentions?

Effective means that address these questions are to state publicly, clearly, and concisely your mission, annual accomplishments, ways you measure success, and goals. It is also vital to make readily available federally required public disclosure documents and to check your state's laws, which may include additional requirements. GuideStar offers nonprofits a platform to demonstrate their transparency by updating the GuideStar Information Form and by uploading PDFs of required and substantiating documents to their GuideStar Reports through eDocs.

Marion Conway Consulting

Guidestar Accountability and Transparency Article