10 Blogging Best Practices for Nonprofits

This is the third post in a blog and webinar series called 101 Digital Marketing & Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits, written and presented by Heather Mansfield. Please sign up for Nonprofit Tech for Good’s email newsletter to be alerted of new posts. Thank you!

Related Webinar: Website & Email Marketing for Nonprofits
Related Certificate Program: Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising

With more than 600 million blogs worldwide, many nonprofits may think that the internet does not need another blog, but that’s not the case. Brands that blog report 97% more links to their website and 434% more indexed pages in search engines. New, timely content is more vital to the success of your nonprofit’s digital marketing and fundraising strategy than it has ever been.

First, blogging allows your nonprofit to have a consistent source of new content to feature in your email newsletter and to share on social media. News articles hosted on your website can serve the same function provided they are written as a news story, not a press release.

Second, search engines are constantly searching the web to index fresh content. Nonprofits that regularly post new blog content with keywords in the title are much more likely to get indexed by search engines, especially Google.

Third, as discussed in Email Marketing Best Practices for Nonprofits, a pop-up on your blog posts can quickly grow your email list. If your nonprofit is not making a concerted effort to grow your email list in 2024, then online fundraising success will remain elusive.

1) Understand and embrace modern blogging.

Launched in 1999, the first blogging platform, Blogger, ushered in the beginning of the Social Web. For the first time, readers could comment publicly on a piece of online content. At the time, it was a transformative concept whereas today our daily online experience is one based on public commentary and feedback.

Blogging of the past was primarily editorial content, such as an opinion piece by an executive director. Blogs were most often written in first person, more than 1,000 words in length, and the accepted best practice was that blog posts needed to be published at least every other day. Blog comments were also taken very seriously.

Today’s blogging is much different. Most blog posts are now written by multiple staff or guest bloggers with the occasional editorial piece written by an executive staff member. A nonprofit can choose to blog once a week or every other week, and posts can be as little as 250 words—and most nonprofits have turned off comments since the online conversation has shifted to social media.

The primary purpose of blogging today is to share news updates and tell the stories of your nonprofit, rather than the opinions of your executive leadership. To demonstrate this evolution in blogging, Oceana was an early adopter of blogging in the early 2000s. Today, their blog focuses primarily on news updates and stories written by multiple staff with only an occasional editorial piece written by executive staff. Their posts retain the defining characteristics of blogs, namely a published date and an attributed author, but blog posts are written in third person.

A screenshot of the home page of the nonprofit Oceana with a navigation menu popped-down and "blog" selected.

2) Embed calls-to-action within your blog content.

A growing trend is to add a large, visually prominent call-to-action (CTA) to the body of blog posts halfway into the post and/or at the bottom. Below are three examples from three different nonprofits.

1) Newsletter opt-in on the Marshall Project blog

An email option form for the newsletter of the Marshall Project embedded in the middle of a blog post.

2) Advocacy CTA on the Union of Concerned Scientists blog

A blog post by the Union of Concerned Scientists with a "Take Action" button to ask Congress to support food and farmworkers.

3) “Donate Now” CTA on the Human Rights Watch blog

A donate form featured on the bottom of all blog posts on the website of Human Rights Watch.

3) Maximize your blog’s sidebar.

Think of your website’s sidebar as free advertising space and utilize the space for important calls-to-action and to feature important content. For example, the ASPCA prominently features a “Donate” call-to-action and numerous “Other Ways to Help.”

A blog post about an adventurous cat on the ASPCA website with a sidebar that that features a call to donate, to become a member, and to become a volunteer.

4) Feature “Popular Posts.” 

Once a blog post moves its way into the “Popular” module featured in the right bar of Nonprofit Tech for Good, it consistently receives more traffic than other blog posts, even if the post is months old.

Ensure that your nonprofit is also increasing page views and user engagement on your blog by using a “Popular” posts plugin on your blog and/or news section. At the end of your posts, you can also include “Related Posts” or a large, prominent call-to-action.

A screenshot of Nonprofit Tech for Good that highlight a "Popular Posts" widget on the right bar with ten articles listed.

5) Write and format blog content for easy reading.

Visitors to your blog are unlikely to read your blog posts if they find the content difficult to mentally and visually process. Here are some basic best practices for formatting blog content:

  • Write short paragraphs
  • Break up text with bold, large headings
  • Use bold to highlight key text
  • Use bullet points or numbers to break up long sections of text
  • Feature important quotes in a large, bold font
  • Embed images and videos that are consistent in size
  • Utilize internal linking to improve SEO

Well-formatted  post on the NRDC blog:

A screenshot of a small paragraphs of text and a large headline that demonstrates good formatting of blog content.

Our Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of website design, email marketing, online fundraising, and social media for nonprofits.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. To earn the certificate, you can attend the webinars live or view the recordings – or a combination of both. Learn more & register!

A screenshot of the "Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising" offered by Nonprofit Tech for Good.

6) Share the impact of your nonprofit.

Supporters and donors want to hear how your organization is making an impact. Today’s email Inboxes and social media feeds are flooded with negativity, so blog posts about your nonprofit’s positive impact stand out and can inspire readers to give, get more involved, and result in increased engagement on social media.

The Yolo Food Bank recently featured its annual impact report in a blog post. The post clarifies in numbers their accomplishments and their programs in action. Strangely, it’s rare for nonprofits to share their impact in this way in blog posts — doing so on a quarterly basis is excellent content for your blog.A screenshot of a blog post by the Yolo Food Bank that lists - in numbers (22,000 households served, 1,800 volunteers) - the impact they made over the last year.

7) Feature the stories of individuals served, staff, and volunteers.

Whether in the form of a guest post, an interview, or a feature story, highlighting individuals served by your nonprofit and the good work of staff members and volunteers humanizes your brand. A good example to follow is a series of stories written by women served by Women for Women International.

A screenshot of four featured stories of women - from Nigeria, Palestine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan - and how the nonprofit Women for Women International has helped them improve their lives.

8) Publish numbered lists.

Most readers scan online content rather than read it thoroughly which is why numbered lists are consistently top-performing blog posts and news articles. Numbered lists also pique the curiosity of potential readers and they often click to see what’s on the list.

Regularly publishing numbered lists is a strategy that has worked well for Nonprofit Tech for Good as our numbered lists are our most trafficked posts. A good example is 30 Tips to Help Your Family Eat Better by the American Heart Association.

A screenshot of a blog post featuring a father and son in the kitchen cooking.

9) Provide useful, educational content.

Educating your readers about a topic that may be new to your readers is a great way to be useful and spark continued interest in reading your blog in the future. A good example is The Benefits of Planting Native Plants by Defenders of Wildlife. The post educates readers about the difference between native and exotic plants, discusses different types of native plants, and then ties the theme into their mission by explaining how planting native plants in your yard or garden is beneficial to local wildlife.

A screenshot of a blog post on the Defender of Wildlife website about The Benefits of Planting Native Plants.

10) Share commentary and calls-to-action about important issues.

If an issue relevant to your mission is in the news (local, national, or international), write up a summary of the issue, add your commentary with a call-to-action (CTA), and then share your post to your social media and in your newsletter.

For example, this blog post from the Surfrider Foundation explains how San Onofre State Beach became a protected area beloved by surfers and how the lease is up this year. At the top and bottom an “Add Your Voice!” CTA is featured that links to a petition where supporters can email government officials urging them to renew the lease.

A screenshot of of blog post on the website of the Surfrider Foundation with a picture of San Onofre Beach with surfers featured and a headline demanding a new lease be signed.Post Updated: April 29, 2024

Our Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising program covers the fundamentals of website design, email marketing, online fundraising, and social media for nonprofits.

The program requires the completion of three webinars and costs a total of $100 USD. To earn the certificate, you can attend the webinars live or view the recordings – or a combination of both. Learn more & register!

A screenshot of the "Certificate in Digital Marketing & Fundraising" offered by Nonprofit Tech for Good.