Many hands make light work, and many voices can make for more interesting reading. Yet, getting your board members to contribute to the organization’s blog can be like pulling the proverbial hens' teeth!
Let’s take a look at what lies behind that reluctance to blog, and how you can help your board members get past those roadblocks to blogging. But first things first --
Why should Board members contribute to your nonprofit’s blog?
- To lighten the workload
- To bring fresh ideas and variety to the blog
- To share their experience and expertise
- To broaden your audience through the board members’ personal networks
- To demonstrate board members’ commitment to your organization
- To lend the '”cachet” of a prominent name in your community
You may have other reasons as well.
In essence, however, the reasons why you’d want your board members to blog are likely to reflect all the same reasons why they were invited or elected to your board in the first place!
What’s stopping your board from blogging?
Let’s assume that your nonprofit’s blog already has good solid “buy-in” from the board. (If not, bring a copy of The Networked Nonprofit or print-outs of 10 Reasons Why Every Nonprofit Must Have a Blog and Non-profit Website or Non-profit Blog? to your next meeting. Get the topic on the table to see where the roadblocks are so you can start work on getting that essential buy-in.) So, what’s keeping your board members from blogging?
Even in an organization where everyone agrees that the blog is a worthwhile tool for online outreach, your board members may still be reluctant to blog, usually for one or more of these four factors:
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of skills
- Lack of time
- Lack of motivation
We’ll look more closely at each of these factors, next time, but for now – just to get you started – here’s a quick strategy for finding a way around those barriers to board blogging:
1. Ask Yourself: “Why?”
Ask yourself, for each non-blogging board member, what do you most want to accomplish for your nonprofit through their contributions to the blog? Go back to that checklist of reasons we started with. Do you want to leverage the authority of Ms. CEO’s well-known name in more direct connection with your cause? Or perhaps you just need a bit of help with keeping a flow of fresh content to the blog.
2. Ask Your Board: “Why Not?”
Listen to what your board members are telling you (and what they’re not saying!) about the reasons why they’re not contributing to the blog. Is it a lack of time? That’s probably the most common reason – your board members are undoubtedly among the busiest people in the community, with many calls on their limited leisure hours – but you might be surprised at what other factors are lurking in there, too.
For example, one smart capable woman I’ve worked with recently had spent 20+ years wrangling a multi-million dollar budget, but she’d be challenged to do more with a computer than send a simple email. Why? Because, throughout her career, she always had support staff to deal with tech stuff. For this board member, to tackle even the most “user-friendly” of blogging platforms would still represent a considerable learning curve, time investment, and probably a certain amount of frustration and other negative emotions. You can see how all this would create a significant barrier to volunteering to contribute to your blog!
3. Ask for Only What You Need
Those of us who blog regularly can tend to get wrapped up in one picture of what that blogging workflow looks like: Brainstorm for a blog post idea, outline and draft the article, and rewrite as needed; fire up the blogging software and format the post, perhaps with an image to illustrate it; hit the “Publish” button.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
Think about guest posts, for example, where an outside writer might make a one-time appearance on your nonprofit’s blog. You’re not normally going to give them a password to get into your blog, to post their own article, are you? No, more likely they’ll send the post as a word-processing document and you, as blog editor, will take care of the formatting and publishing chores.
Could you do the same for your tech-challenged board member?
If what your blog really needs is their fresh ideas, their expertise, the weight of their good name and extensive connections... there’s no reason to ask them to learn how to do their own publishing, too.
Here’s another example:
Suppose you need to lighten the workload associated with keeping up your nonprofit’s blog. Your board member is blocked by a lack of confidence – whether it’s the all-too-common fear of the blank page, or a fear that their ideas might not stand up to public scrutiny, or some other root, a lack of confidence is surprisingly common when it comes to putting your words out on the public Web!
So, what is it that you really need from her or him? Ideas for blog posts, research for blog posts, illustrations for blog posts, outlines or drafts...What part of the process could s/he help with, that would spread the workload without exposing your shy board member beyond the comfort level?
The solution might even lie in publishing anonymously, if that’s what works for this individual. You can always go back later and add a name credit, if all that blog posting helps to build confidence over time.
Look at it this way:
Fundraisers know that you can ask for $100, but if all a person can afford is $10, the best will in the world won’t multiply that donation by a factor of ten. And we don’t cultivate long-term donor relationships by hammering away for more than a person can give – that way lies guilt and negative feelings about a greedy and insensitivity organization! Well, in-kind donations are no different, are they? And neither is the contribution of content for your nonprofit’s blog.
Be realistic about what you need and what each person can give, and you’re much more likely to get your board on board with blogging.
Photo by Foxtongue