The new "Fab Five" tools of relational fundraising: #5

Let's get down to the new "Fab Five" tools of relational fundraising. We're going to do this over four days, finishing up on Friday. I want to say in advance that these tools are complimentary to having relationships, not a replacement! Saddle up, here we go!

Fab Five tool #5

A blog.

So why blog?

There is no greater story sharing platform than the blog. The blog is not limited to only words, it allows room for images and videos as well. Literally, you can tell a story. Using your voice. In a video. Your supporters can see you tell a story passionately instead of trying to decipher your passion through a written story.

In relational fundraising this equates to being able to demonstrate that the organization is doing what it is intended to do. It allows you to say, "Look. I'll show you." And there it is, an image or a video of the vision becoming reality. This is what donors want in a season of mass electronic information, they want to see the vision becoming reality and they want to see it often.

Here are some quick laws to blogging:

1. Less words, more images- We are an image driven culture. As we begin to write we can get lost trying to compel our audience through the choice and structure of our words. A great blog has picture or video demonstrating that the mission is working with a short written message.

2. Develop a pattern- Consistency is key. This is what makes a blog so powerful is that it shares information immediately. If you have done fundraising for a non-profit longer than eight years try to remember what it used to be like to send out a newsletter to your donors. Can you remember printing the newsletter before digital photos and actually cutting out the spaces and taping printed pictures to make the final copy? The fundraising update took a week or more of labor! A blog takes less than a minute to create and you tell the story NOW but it needs to be done often and in a consistant pattern. Your tribe needs the new story because so much is coming at them on a weekly basis. If this is about fundraising, do it weekly.

3. Not a personal blog- Make sure you have a separation between a personal blog and an organizational blog. Don't clutter supporters' minds with your thoughts when they believe in the vision of the organization or mission.

4. Allow comments- Seth Godin says a crowd is a tribe without a way to communicate. Blogs allow for people to talk back, it also allows for multiple tribe members to conversate around a topic with one another. Have you ever tried talking back to the news team on your TV? How'd that go for you? Of course you don't, you sit down, shut up, and take what they give you. But not on blogs! Ask yourself who the most financially invested people are in your organization? They are the people who feel like they have more than just money involved. Encourage comments, encourage feedback, encourage participation.

5. Always respond to comments- It's powerful when the man (or woman) behind the curtain steps out and engages people. That could be you if you respond to a comment. When you respond to supporters or investors it makes them feel heard and that their opinion matters to you as the leader. Leadership fails if the only movement of communication is down the ladder.

6. Keep it clean, less is more- I'm hoping it's obvious that the language and images you use should be appropriate but I'm actually talking about the look of the blog. Professional bloggers know to use a white background and a simple layout. Be edgy trying to find new ways to make your organization more effective, but be clean in the place you share your stories. Clutter distracts.

I am personally a fan of using www.wordpress.com. I think it is easy to establish a free blog, one that would meet all the laws mentioned above. I've heard that many people like www.blogger.com as well, but it's been a long time since I last used it. Your new blog will give your donors, or possible donors, a place to see the vision of the mission becoming reality.

The blog is the new interactive brochure: it's faster, capable of showing images and videos, and far less expensive to produce. Best of all, it allows participation and that keeps people investing over the long term.