Nonprofits do not blog, but they should

I based GaveTo, the side project I’ve been working on to help me and other donors keep updated on our charitable gifts, in part on the assumption that nonprofits blog. This was a bad assumption.

Since I’m rolling GaveTo out in a slow elongated beta, I’m asking beta testers (signup to be one!) to recommend nonprofits they give to that they want added to the GaveTo database. While the nonprofits I give to are prolific bloggers, I wrongly assumed this was largely true of all nonprofits. Like any good beta testers, the GaveTo beta testers have suggested a ton of nonprofits that do not blog at all, calling into question one of the GaveTo founding assumptions.

For GaveTo the obvious implication is that I need to rethink some elements of the system, as it really is designed around the beliefs that nonprofits publish blog feeds as Atom or RSS.

GaveTo will survive, but the more distressing issue to me is that nonprofits do not blog. Although they don’t blog, that doesn’t mean nonprofits don’t produce content. They do, and lots of it. But the content is siloed into social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook which have a history of developer hostility. This matters for two reasons.

First, despite their names, social networks are private platforms, meaning the platform provider and not the nonprofit owns the content. As these platforms grow they become increasingly more insular, making the content produced less open and available for use outside the platform. This precludes any innovative use of content beyond the platform provider selling advertisements against it.

Second, and perhaps worse yet, social networks by and large encourage publishing of stupid content (hello cat gifs). Nonprofits have tons of interesting things to say about what they are doing, the problems they are solving, and what works and what does not. Nonprofits should blog about the substance of their work, even though social networks don’t always reward headier content.

There are some nonprofits bucking this trend, publishing thoughtful content and reaping the donor dollars and mindshare of informed donors.

Social networks are fine for trivial bits of donor clickbait, but that doesn’t mean nonprofits should stop catering to more engaged donors. Blogging is the perfect platform for nonprofits to reach savvy donors who want to really learn about what a nonprofit does. Too bad nonprofits don’t blog.