Last week, I spoke to a group of fundraisers from the Kansas City chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. My talk was about the use of social media as a fundraising tool. It was a good group of 60 or so fundraisers with a wide variety of experience and representing a broad array of organizations.
As you can imagine at this point in time, they were all fairly familiar with at least the basics of social media. So the conversation took on some moderately advanced subject matter until I asked the attendees a question — “How many of you write blog posts for your organization?” The response was stunning — fewer than 10% of the people in front of me raised a hand, and those that went up waved with a timidness that clearly said, “Yeah, I wrote one once.”
I was stunned. Up to this point, there was an abundance of participation and the group clearly showed that they knew their way around the social media landscape. But, here we were at the fundamental core of any strong social media effort – blogging – and the landscape turned into a ghost town. As it turns out, the problem was not that their organizations didn’t have an active blog. It was that most of these fundraisers didn’t understand how their participation would help their fundraising efforts. But it can. Here’s how:
The Two Dimensions of Blogging for Nonprofit Funding
Competence and warmth – these are the two fundamental dimensions that people use to form perceptions of organizations. Research by Jennifer Aaker at Stanford shows that people perceive for-profit organizations as competent and non-profit organizations as warm.
Consequently, there is a reluctance to conduct transactions with non profits because they are not seen as competent. However, when a non profit can demonstrate competence, the reluctance goes away and becomes admiration that translates in a greater willingness to transact.
Blogging by fundraisers provides an ideal channel for demonstrating your organization’s competence. It is the ideal storytelling venue to showcase your accomplishments. You have total control over how loud and how often to blow your own horn. It enables others to comment on your posts and join in acknowledging your expertise. It is an opportunity to shine as a source of knowledge and wisdom for your cause.
As a professional fundraiser, you’ve already mastered the building face to face relationships and exuding warmth. Blogging enables you to play the other ace by showing thought leadership and competence. Now you can move beyond being warmly received as a friendly face to being warmly received as an expert worthy of a significant investment in social good.