How to Get Your Board Members to Blog

Lori Halley 21 September 2010 8 comments

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! 

hand on keyboardLet’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

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 7:23 PM

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Comments

  • Michael LoBue, CAE said:

    Wednesday, 22 September 2010 at 6:36 PM

    Maybe your board members don't have anything to blog about.

    This entire premise seems like another example of "social media tools in search of solutions".  Board members are not necessarily responsible for promoting an organization, but they are responsible for governance, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with blogging.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 23 September 2010 at 4:57 AM

    Indeed that may very well be the case with many organizations, Michael - and that goes to the first question: Why do you want your board members to communicate directly with your members and supporters?

    In many small non-profit organizations, people agree to sit on the board because they have a passionate interest in the cause, or special expertise to share. In that case, yes, they may well have something to contribute.

    But if the board role is simply administrative, you may very well get to the third of these three steps and conclude that contributing to the blog is not a good match for what the board member has to give.

  • BigTuna Interactive said:

    Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 7:29 AM

    As a member of quite a few non profits, I totally agree that board members blogging is a great way to voice your non profits concerns and agenda.  Rebecca brings up a good point.  The question you have to ask, is if you have a "working board".  If the board members are just there to spend an hour at the meeting, and give their 2 cents, then blogging isn't realistic.  If not, the more contributors to your blog, the better.

  • paul Koentges said:

    Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Read your entire article as to the WHY, but said nothing about HOW, step one. I  assume that step one is to turn my computer on ... that was easy ...  step two ...? I am very interested in the HOW, I understand the WHY.

    Paul

  • paul koentges said:

    Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I did on the previous page.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 4:22 PM

    I'm not sure I understand your comments, Paul - particularly the second one. Would you mind explaining a bit more?

  • Alana Newton said:

    Friday, 04 February 2011 at 7:30 AM

    Even though a board member might be very interested in the cause of the organization doesn't mean he/she "shows" up each time there is a meeting.  What else is going on in their lives that present them from being fully present? If all they do is attend meetings, I wonder about the level of actual knowledge they would have to blog about?

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 06 February 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Alana, do you think one might also ask why someone is on the board at all, if they don't have much interest in or knowledge of the organization and its cause? If the board member is so disengaged that s/he can't even share, say, a personal story about why s/he decided to donate time to the organization... you know?

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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