7 Tips to Start a Guest Blogging Program 

We've talked about how important it is for nonprofits to create a content calendar and share regular updates with your constituents. Today I want to talk about the importance of getting influential guest bloggers within your community to write a guest blog post for you. Many organizations have someone in the celebrity realm championing their cause, and even if that person is only a celeb in your community, that's a big deal to your constituents. Guest blog posts and quotes are a great way to bring in diverse voices and to talk about niche issues.

Here are 7 tips for reaching out to and identifying guest bloggers.

1. Make a spreadsheet to define your goals. The spreadsheet should include people that you want to reach out to, your goals for that person (do you want a single post, two-part series, etc.?), their contact info, and people at your organization who may have a connection to that person.  Make sure to include "wish list" people who may seem unrealistic. You never know until you make the ask.

2. Identify the right experts and influencers to solicit guest blog posts or quotes from. Make sure you're highlighting voices in your community, as well as philanthropists who are passionate about your issue. Think about politicians who want to show leadership on the issue. And consider authors who are already writing on the issue.

3. Keep your “ask” out as brief as possible. You'll need to introduce yourself, your organization, and then frame your ask concisely.

4. Reach out to peer organizations, and even consider hosting a blog carnival.

5. Sometimes people will agree to write something for you, but may forget.  Plan to follow up after a couple of days as a friendly reminder. And make sure that you're always thanking people - even if they aren't able to participate. Creating relationships is key.

6. Have a couple of questions on hand once someone agrees to participate. The questions are helpful to get them ruminating on the issue, and will help mold the direction that you would like them to go. Interviews are also a great way to incorporate guest voices into your blog.

7. Create a series of guest blog posts around a theme. This makes your request more attractive since each blogger knows they are part of something bigger that other experts in their field are participating in. It also allows you to build on each person who agrees to submit a guest post since you can name drop the people who are already participating to give your series more appeal.


What tips do you have for nonprofits that are thinking about beginning, guest blogging?


CrowdRise Holiday Challenge Expects to Raise Over $1M for Charity 

While your nonprofit may be in the final sprint of planning its year-end fundraising campaigns, you may want to carve out extra time raising even more money by participating in the 3rd annual Crowdrise Holiday Challenge. The Holiday Challenge, which launched last Monday, has already raised over $677,000. Over 500 nonprofits have registered to participate. Not to worry, there is still time to register. There is also an informative charity toolkit here

The Challenge, with support from Craig Newmark of craigslist and craigconnects, The Huffington Post, and other philanthropists will run through January 9th.  Grand prize donations to the three charities that raise the most money include; a $100K for first place, $40K for second place and $20K for third place. Charities will also have the opportunity to win thousands of dollars more in prizes during weekly Bonus Challenges.

Celebrities such as Will Ferrell, Conan O’Brien, Kristen Bell, Sean Penn, Ian Somerhalder. Christy Turlington, Seth Rogen, and more are joining this year’s Challenge to help raise money for the causes they are most passionate about with prizes, including two tickets to the Anchorman 2 movie premiere at the Beacon Theater in New York City and a feature article in The Huffington Post about your favorite charity. Pretty cool.

The Holiday Charity Challenge on CrowdRise is expected to raise well over $1M this year and break last year’s record of $1.1 million in small donations.

“Our supreme focus at CrowdRise is to make giving back fun,” said CrowdRise cofounder and CEO Robert Wolfe. “And we’re relentless about finding awesome and notable ways for people and organizations to be so, so psyched to raise money for their favorite causes. The CrowdRise Holiday Challenge creates ‘that moment’…a moment that isn’t a dinner or disaster. The CrowdRise Holiday Challenge is just a cool and fun way to rally your friends to engage and give back and drive some kick ass impact.”

Newmark, who has seen nonprofits raise a lot of donations via social fundraising campaigns says he finds these types of campaigns appealing because “I figure people should give each other a break, and my take is that this will be an effective way for people to help people who get the job done.”

*Disclosure: My firm Rad Campaign works with Craig Newmark and is working on the Crowdrise Holiday Challenge.

** Article was updated December 5, 2013 to relfect the amount raised to date.


Infographic: How Foundations Use Social Media

While the majority of nonprofit organizations have a social media presence, only 45% of foundations use social media. The Foundation Center surveyed over 1,000 foundations across the U.S. to dig deeper into what’s trending with foundations and social media. My firm Rad Campaign had an opportunity to dig into the survey data and team up with the Foundation Center to produce an infographic that reveals some interesting trends. Check out the highlights below.

Which Types Of Foundations Are Using Social Media?

  • 88% of community foundations
  • 55% of corporate foundations
  • 34% of family and independent foundations

What Social Media Channels Are Foundations Using?

Foundations that use social media prefer these channels:

  • 65% use Facebook
  • 40% use Twitter
  • 32% use YouTube

71% of Foundations Have No Formal Social Media Strategy

Yes, you read that right – very few foundations have actually taken the time to develop a formal social media strategy. I found this statistic quite surprising and alarming because foundations are increasingly requiring grantees to use social media to raise awareness about their nonprofit organization and foster community. But how can foundations properly evaluate nonprofit’s social media usage, if the majority of foundations aren’t using social media themselves or don’t have a formal social media strategy?

Majority of Foundations Using Social Media Say It’s Useful

On a more positive note, 61% of the foundations using social media said that it’s been very useful or somewhat useful in furthering their work.  And 74% said that social media is useful in furthering philanthropy.

The infographic also highlights foundations that are using social media effectively, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Woods Charitable Fund.  Be sure and also check out the social media staffing survey data.

You can view the full infographic below or on



Tips to Manage Facebook Embeds and Typos

Facebook is pretty picky about what you can and cannot do on their platform, but the available tools and options are beginning to shift as they test what works for people and orgs, and what doesn't. It's important for nonprofits to stay on top of the newest trends, and to utilize new tools effectively.


A new option for nonprofits' status updates, though, is the ability to embed your Facebook statuses in a blog post or on a website. Embedded Posts are a simple way to place public posts - by a Page or an individual on Facebook - into the content of your web site or web page. The posts must be public, or it won't work.

Once you've accessed the embed code, you can places the HTML on your blog or website. The embedded post will show any media attached to it, as well as the number of likes, shares, and comments that the post has. Embedding posts will allow the constituents who are visiting your website to see the same engaging information that's shown on your Facebook page. Your community will be able to follow or like content or Pages directly from the embed on the website. One downside? The size of the embedded post is fixed to the same dimensions as it's shown on Facebook.


One criticism of Facebook has been that you can't edit your statuses once  they're published. This has been especially problematic when you post a big news update, and your followers are really excited and begin to like and share the update, only for you to realize that there's a typo. In the past, your only option has been to either ignore the typo and move on, or to delete the status and write a new one. The problem with deletion is that it deletes all of the engagement that the post received initially. What's exciting is that Facebook has recently allowed you to edit your statuses after they've been published. The downside? This is only for individuals, and not for organizations, or Pages. Pages can still edit text on photos that they've uploaded, but not status updates.

We used Frogloop guest blogger Justyn Hintze's Facebook page as an example for how to edit a status on a personal page.

You publish a Facebook status.


Then you notice your huge typo, and you click the down arrow in the top right-hand corner, and scroll down to where it says, "Edit..." You can then edit your status, and re-publish the new version.


The newest version will show that you edited the post right next to the time stamp. Anyone can click the word "Edited" to see the history of the text. So, unless you actually delete your status, no prior edits can be permanently deleted or hidden.


This is what the Edit History looks like when anyone clicks on it.


We'd love to hear what Facebook features you have found useful for your nonprofit.


Is Your Nonprofit Making the Millennial Cut?

Sometimes it's hard to stand out among the sea of nonprofits in the online world. There are so many devices (mobile devices, tablets, laptops, etc.) and platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) from which people are consuming their information, that it's very important for you to find your niche. People aren't just finding their favorite organizations from a wide ranges of sources; they're doing it selectively.

The 2013 Millennial Impact Report concluded that:

"Millennials are highly selective about what organizations they follow in a crowded and noisy media landscape... Nearly half of respondents (48.8 percent) follow one to five organizations on social media."

The report's top takeaway is that Millennials are supporting the causes that they are most passionate about, rather than specific institutions. And it's the causes that they're sharing, not the organizations. This means that you need to be strategic and focus on communicating how what kind of an impact your organization is making in issue related programs. For example, if your organization works on climate change you need to tell your target audiences what’s at stake, concrete ways they can take action and create real change, and then share what kind of a collective impact you are making.

Since Millennials' top three motivations for getting involved with an organization is their own passion, to network, and to gain experience and knowledge, you need to be hitting these points.

Passion -

Share personal stories by staff and volunteers on the ground. Don't get so mixed up in vanity metrics and numbers that you forget why your organization really exists. You are as passionate as your constituents, and it's important for them to not only know that, but to see it.

Networking -

Networking is coalition-building and face-to-face engagement. Are you making an effort to host house parties, happy hours? Brown bag lunch series? Or organization meet n greets? It's so vital for your constituents to see a face behind the issues that you're working so hard on.

Expertise -

Take the time to educate your constituents. You are the experts, and they want to have a connection to you. You can do this by sharing information on blogs, twitter, Facebook, as well as host quiz contests to engage your audience.

How are you meeting your audience where they're at? What would you suggest to stand out in the crowd?



Can Nonprofits Raise Money on Social Media?

Does senior leadership at your organization ask “why can’t we raise money on social media? Look at the Obama campaign. They raised millions of dollars.

First of all, let’s get real. Comparing your nonprofit to a Presidential campaign is ridiculous. Your organization is not running for the President of the United States. You don't have access to every news outlet, generating millions of dollars worth of earned media, or the funds to spend millions of dollars on advertising and marketing. 

Second, the majority of nonprofits have not raised a dime on social media. According to the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report by Blackbaud, only 2% of nonprofits raised between $10K and $25K on Facebook in a 12 month time period. And just 1% raised between $25K and $100K. Take a look at the chart below.

For the organizations that are raising money on Facebook in particular – here’s a breakdown of how money is being raised:

  •   33% raised money via Individual Giving
  •   20% raised money via Event Fundraising
  •   17% raised money via Causes
  •   11% raised money via Personal Fundraising


Why are these statistics so dismal?

According to the reports survey participants:

59% of nonprofits say they have not developed a social media strategy.
Obviously this is problematic; Without a strategy, there is no ladder of engagement to cultivate donors.

63% of nonprofits say social media is not Executive Management's priority.
If social media is not a priority for leadership, then your organization certainly won’t raise money on social media.

72% of nonprofits have no dedicated social media staff.
If your nonprofit wants to raise money via social media, you will definitely need dedicated staff to develop a strategy and execute it, as well as test new ideas and iterate.

Nonprofits think social media is free
In addition to the Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmarking Report survey findings, I have also found that Executive Management thinks that social media is free.  Social media is definitely not free. It takes staff time, resources, and financial investment.

Nonprofits should do social media appends
There are reputable vendors like SmallAct that will match your email file to your social media followers so that you are able to connect with them. This will allow you to focus on deepening your relationships.

Lead acquisition is necessary
Tools like ActionSprout can be used to launch very simple petitions or pledges on Facebook and will capture your followers' email addresses. Facebook ads and promoted posts can be utilized to direct your social media followers to a special landing page on your website with a strong call to action or a call to donate. Using this strategy, you can capture your constituents' contact information.

By the way, Care2, who runs this blog, also has some great recruitment tools to reach advocates and donors.

To sum it up, most nonprofits aren’t raising any money on social media. But as you can see from the survey results, many nonprofits aren’t dedicating the necessary resources and strategies to raise money. I think that social media can be a great channel to build a community and a list of prospects if your organization is strategic. But most importantly, nonprofits need to view social media as one of multiple channels that they can use to plan and roll out campaigns that have fundraising components. A multi-channel approach is still what brings in the most donations today.



Tricks & Treats for Nonprofits to Spark Action This Halloween

Tis the season for candycorn, caramel apples, and costumes. It’s also a great time for nonprofits to host a contest or run a Halloween campaign focusing on one of your issues to enage your constituents before launching into the holiday season and the year-end fundraising. Did you know that 30% more people enter promotion campaigns at Halloween than on non-festive days of the year? It'd be great to see how other holidays compare. Do you think that Valentine's Day and Mother's Day get a similar bump? What times of the year have you gotten the most traction?

I found this infographic from Antavo that talks about Halloween contests that involve your constituents' costumes, their pumpkin carving skills, their screaming abilities, and their pets (because 1/5 people dress up their pets).

While the ideas in this infographic are geared toward Facebook contests, you can repurpose these ideas across social networks, and you can structure them as contests or campaigns. These contests and campaigns can be tailored for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other network that your organization is social on.

This is a creative way to foster discussions with your community and keep them engaged. You can also host a themed pumpkin carving contest that is connected to one of the campaigns you are working on.  For example, if you work on food issues, you can start a recipe contest for the scariest looking food. People are already on a roll, just search "Halloween recipes" on Pinterest.

The National Zoo hosts an annual Boo at the Zoo campaign, which has raised a lot of money for the nonprofit.  The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has used Halloween to promote their clean energy campaigns in the past, and to talk about the Most Fascinating Things About Halloween's Scariest Creatures. Halloween is a chance to put a spin on the information that you diseminate on a regular basis, and to more readily grab your constituents' attention. Goodwill SoCal is currently asking people to enter their one-of-a-kind Goodwill Halloween costumes. They're running the contest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If people enter on Facebook, they also have to Like Goodwill's Facebook page.

One way to ask people to enter a contest or engage in conversation about a campaign is through the use of hashtags. Make sure to note that people who enter a contest through a social network need to make sure that their entry is public. Even if they're using the hashtag, if they aren’t posting publicly (users need to look at their privacy settings), their entry won't be counted. This is particularly true for Instagram.

Take a look at the infographic, and see if it helps you get any ideas for your organization.

What Halloween contests and campaigns has your nonprofit hosted before, or do you plan to host? We'd love to hear.