Why charities & VCS organisations should get blogging

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helen-robinsonWelcome to our new-look blog!

We have just re-launched the Involve Yorkshire & Humber blog. This new blog allows you to join in discussions by commenting and sharing on email or through social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. You can search by topic, and see recent comments by other visitors.

Savvy readers will have noticed that the Involve team and people we work closely with have actually been blogging here for a few months now, but the blog has been buried within our current website structure. Our new blog is much more visible and we’ll be updating it more frequently with news and opinions about Involve Yorkshire & Humber projects and events, current hot topics within the voluntary and community sector, policy updates (and what they really mean for the VCS), and opinion pieces by Involve staff and other key industry spokespeople.

Blogging for charities: how blogging can help VCS organisations

Involve made the leap into the social media realm quite a while ago, and we now run a number of Twitter accounts for each of the policy areas we specialise in, including health @HealthNetYH and rural policy @YHrural, as well as the Involve Y&H general account @InvolveYH.

But a blog ties all your digital communications together and provides regular content for your other social media pages. It also offers a platform to explain your work and bring the kind of personality and opinion that isn’t possible in a press release or news section.

Another great reason to blog is that search engines just love blogs. Good quality, relevant, well written, and regularly updated blogs will be picked up by search engines and will boost your search engine rankings. This will help you reach whole new audiences and service users (and potentially donations, funding, volunteers and sponsors too).

Blogging and the voluntary & community sector: who is doing it well?

Many charities now regularly blog and are doing so very successfully. This Guardian list of the best charity blogs gives you an idea of what works well.

Note that the ones picked out by the Guardian have personality and humour. While a blog is a great way of delivering information, the best ones are also a joy to read.

Key media and journalists are also blogging – the Third Sector blog is a good example. If you currently spend a lot of time on press releases, you might like to consider refocusing some of that time on blogging instead – you can guarantee publication, and if you have a credible blog on your website, you can also then approach other established websites with similar audiences and suggest a guest blog or use the content to leverage some editorial. Guest blogs help you get your message out to a new group of people and will also help to drive traffic back to your website.

Blogging for #volsec: Blogging tips and advice for VCS

Blogs should give useful information and add value to your readers. Note that the Just Giving blog isn’t just a list of reasons why people should donate (or why to sign up for just giving), there are also personal stories (‘Joey’s first day at school’) and advice blogs (‘your cycling top tips’).

NB ‘Top Tips’ style blogs rank particularly well on search engines and tend to get a lot of ‘click throughs’.

The nature of many voluntary and community organisations means that everyone ‘mucks in’ and gets involved. There is often an ethos of collaboration, and a blog is a perfect reflection of this. Blogs can be a great way of bringing communities together, sharing experiences and creating a sense of community that transcends geographical boundaries. Some of the mums blogs in this Mumsnet thread are a perfect example of this.

A sense of community and belonging is also an important factor in maintaining mental health and wellbeing. This e-book on the use of social media and blogging in mental health practice gives some great examples of good practice that can be used by organisations who work with vulnerable people and who may be considering blogging as a way of supporting health and wellbeing. The Leeds Wellbeing blog is an excellent example.

NB Those who work in health or equality may be interested in our annual policy conference, Health & wellbeing: making equality a reality.

Blogging for VCS organisations

For VCS organisations that rely on funding, blogs can be a great way of evidencing engagement and outcomes and creating a lasting legacy from funded projects that project participants and funders can easily refer back to.

It also helps show the breadth and wealth of work undertaken by VCS organisations, which can so often go under the radar.

I hope this information has been useful – and wish you every success in your blogging ventures! And please do share your comments and feedback in the box below.  

Please also let me know what other topics you think we should be covering on this blog – whether that’s marketing and communications, policy related topics and issues, guidance on funding and finance or anything else.

We welcome all suggestions and will consider all comments and feedback in planning the topics we cover.

If you’d like us to come and run a social media and/or blogging workshop at your organisation, please contact me on helen.robinson@involveyorkshirehumber.org.uk.

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