There’s no question that blogging is one of the most powerful communications tools a nonprofit can have in its online arsenal, if you’ve got the resources to put behind it. But yes, maintaining a blog can take a lot of time and mental energy – especially if you frequently find yourself running out of blog post ideas. Here’s a way to tackle that writer’s block – not just today, but for months to come:
Check the Calendar
Have you noticed how Google changes the header image on its main search page from time to time, to mark certain special days (Earth Day, for example)? Smart idea! And nonprofit blog writers can profitably tap the same source of inspiration for blog post ideas.
In fact, you might want to grab a pen and piece of paper right now, to be ready to jot down any ideas that come to mind – don’t let inspiration slip away, the way Time itself has a habit of doing!
First, let’s think about where we are in the year. Could this season or this month offer a thematic link with your mission? For example, February is associated not only with Valentine’s Day romance but, logically enough, also with the Heart & Stroke Association and other nonprofits working in the area of heart health. May is Red Shield Month for the Salvation Army, but it also suggests “May flowers” to many North Americans – if your organization works for the environment, for example, or is fundraising to build a garden for a women’s shelter, it’s a gimme to make the connection. See where we’re going with this?
Brainstorm for blogging ideas sparked by the season – Spring, right now, for those of us in the northern hemisphere – or for a particular month. (Tip: try an image search or browse photos with Flickr tag clusters to get your imagination in high gear.) Take a few minutes to scratch down one quick blog post idea for each month of the year.
Important Dates and Holidays
From the official and global (United Nations’ "International Year of Biodiversity" for example) to the local (county fairs, election days, school graduations) to the frankly silly (“Talk Like a Pirate Day,” anyone?) --- the calendar is full of special dates that might conceivably have a tie-in with your mission. Churches often look to the liturgical calendar for blogging inspiration, of course. And there are an endless number of special days that can serve as writing prompts for both faith-based and secular nonprofits.
The United Nations Days, Weeks and Years are the awesome Earth Calendar are good places to start, and greeting card companies can be relied on for a huge list of holidays that you know are likely to be well-advertised! Google has lots more…. Look over a few lists of special dates and see what blog topics they might suggest to you.
“Today in History”
Who isn’t secretly fascinated? The past can be a rich source of blog post ideas. And as writing prompts go, this one is often particularly well-suited to a nonprofit blogger, especially if your organization is focused on social change, public health issues, education reform, any issue where there’s progress to be measured against the milestones of history.
Speaking of history, don’t forget about the key anniversary dates within your own organization!
Your Nonprofit Calendar
Is there a special event coming up for your organization or one of its members? The anniversary of an significant milestone for your sector or community? A recurring fundraising campaign you know will be happening? Make note of any special days for your organization or sector – there’s good blog fodder in those dates!
If there’s a conference on your calendar, for example, you can start blogging about it well in advance, to generate excitement (and registrations!) among your members and supporters, as well as “covering” the Big Day itself. You might even consider “live blogging” a particularly big event, with a series of short photo-illustrated posts for the benefit of those who can’t attend. And then there’s the wrap-up: lessons learned and highlights, reporting to your members and donors on the results of your event (goes to accountability, as well as blog content) – and all of a sudden, you’ve got a whack of spots filled in on your blog editorial calendar!
You do have a blog editorial calendar, don’t you?
Of course, there’s homework…
Print yourself out a year’s worth of blank calendar pages – or set up an online calendar, if you prefer. Even a simple spreadsheet will do nicely. The form doesn’t matter. What’s important is that this document will be dedicated to your nonprofit’s blog. You’ll be using it to plan ahead for more effective time management and to help chart the progress of your blog – separated from all the other things you need to keep track of from day to day, so you can see at a glance what’s going on and what you need to do next.
We’re going to be talking more about your blog editorial calendar, and how you can use it to cut down the time and effort it takes to blog on behalf of your nonprofit – but for now, just start with this:
- Pencil in the ideas you’ve just brainstormed.
- As fresh ideas come to mind -- and any time your organization adds a new event to its schedule -- pencil those in, too.
- At the beginning of each week, or at least at the start of each writing session, look over your calendar to see what special days are coming up and the ideas you’ve noted for each. Pick whichever topic makes you feel most excited about the messages you’ll have for your members – and start blogging!
And there you have it. An hour of brainstorming, then just a few minutes here and there for updating your “special days” notes as you go along, and you’ve got a year’s worth of blog topic ideas at your fingertips.
Has your nonprofit blogging been inspired by a special date on the calendar, lately?
Share a link in the comments and tell us all about it!