Blogs and social media are critical communication tools for nonprofits.
In fact, according to research by the University of Massachusetts, a higher percentage of nonprofits have more active blogs than any other category. It makes sense. Blogs are a cost effective way to tell stories and build a consistent emotional connection with constituents.
But how are they doing? What are the best blogs in the world?
I embarked on an ambitious project in partnership with Helen Brown, founder and president of The Helen Brown Group. Helen knows nonprofits, and has devoted her career to teaching some of the biggest organizations in the world how to raise funds more effectively.
We examined more than 250 blogs from some of the largest and most important charities. We looked for the blogs that engaged its audience, offered superb content, and aligned with the organization’s strategies.
Last year when I compiled a list of The Best Company Blogs in the World, I noted that most company blogs weren’t that good, and I’m sad to say we had a similar experience with nonprofits.
We did find inspiring blogs out there, though. Here, in no particular order, are the best nonprofit blogs in the world:
1. Feeding America
Feeding America is simply one of the best blogs you will find anywhere, profit or nonprofit. It has it all:
- Superior content
- Non-intrusive yet effective calls to action
- Good use of multimedia such as photography and video
- Superb use of storytelling to align with objectives
- Attractive and functional design
- Convenient social sharing
- Features that involve key stakeholders
2. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has a wonderful, interesting blog. Of course it serves as the place to go in the event of a disaster, but it is also an entertaining read. As a good example, read this post about the historical role of The Salvation Army in the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Another post features a “fashionista” getting her clothes from a Salvation Army thrift shop. Not only is this type of post great storytelling, it connects readers with the history and rock-solid foundation of the organization in an entertaining way that cuts through the noise.
While a good-looking and well organized blog, it seems to stand alone from the primary Salvation Army site. There is no easy way to connect directly to the organization or donate money right from the blog. This is a missed opportunity.
3. Holland Bloorview Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital
This blog brought tears to my eyes. If you’re a parent, it will probably have the same effect on you.
Bloom is about parenting special needs kids. It isn’t fancy. In fact it’s just on Blogger. But what it lacks in sophistication it more than makes up for in courage and heart. Writer Louise Kinross has something unique and personal going on here. She has nurtured an active, loyal community and with good reason—this is blogging at its best.
4. Operation Blessing
Check out this gutsy, effective blog. With My Own Eyes is a firsthand, photojournalism account of some of the most devastated, disaster-ravaged and previously inaccessible places in the world, as well as a look at Operation Blessing’s efforts to help the people that live there.
This multimedia site features video footage, photos and the personal diary entries of some of the team leaders from more than 25 countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and the U.S. Each blog post provides concrete ideas on how to connect and help.
5. World Vision
This blog just started in 2011, so we’ll have to check in later to see if they can sustain what looks to be an excellent blog. World Vision works with impoverished children and their families throughout the world, and is effectively using eyewitness accounts to connect to constituents.
Some of the hallmarks of this journal are the fantastic, colorful articles that pull you into the organization and its mission. This blog seems to have jumped out of the starting gate quickly—some of its daily posts are already getting more than 1,000 shares. While the design of the blog is quite busy, check out the beautiful and effective design of the main website.
6. Broad Institute
Simply put, The Broad Institute is creating methods, tools and massive data sets, and making them available to the general scientific community to rapidly accelerate biomedical advancement.
The charming thing about its blog—Broad Minded—is that it frames complicated subjects in accessible terms. I mean, how can you miss with a blog post titled “Lifestyles of the Fungal and Famous,” or another that explains unraveling mysteries of DNA as a Julia Child recipe?
This is a lively, straight-forward blog that is exceedingly well-aligned with the mission of the organization.
7. Refugees International
Refugees International advocates lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people, and promotes solutions to displacement crises.
This blog achieves storytelling excellence through extraordinary writing, compelling videos and dramatic photography. If you want an example, check out this video on how refugees struggle to find an education. The almost daily blog isn’t afraid to confront difficult political issues and take a stand as it boldly raises awareness for its cause. A smart, superb blog.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) explores the region’s media (both print and television), websites, religious sermons and school books. This blog stands out in a special way because essentially, the blog is the organization.
This respected nonprofit scans the Middle East for important news and trends, and provides timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Dari, Hindi and Turkish media in separate blogs. Other sections provide original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural and religious trends in the Middle East. The blog series is the centerpiece of this important effort.
9. American Red Cross
This blog provides consistently good content mixed with compelling multimedia. It has several nice features like a list of all local Red Cross chapter blogs, weekly round-ups of disaster relief efforts around the world, and connections to many disaster response resources. The blog is helpful, and targeted to support the needs of its constituents.
I don’t know why this blog is detached from the main Red Cross website—a missed opportunity. Also, it is strange that the blog gets no comments when it is such a vital community-focused organization. It also seems like they could have come up with a better title for their site than “Blog.”
If you’re interested in nonprofit best practices, Helen Brown has provided this list of some of her favorite blogs about charities and fundraising:
1. Stanford Social Innovation Review blog
The SSIR is part of the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). Highlighting thought leaders, practitioners and innovative funders, and “striking a balance between the pragmatic and the intellectual,” this blog keeps you up-to-date on the issues at the forefront of the third sector. Contributors include Sean Stannard-Stockton, Amy Sample Ward and Peter Sims.
2. Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s blogs
The Chronicle of Philanthropy site plays host to a number of blogs including those on prospecting, conversations about nonprofit boards, international philanthropy, and social media for nonprofits. Contributors include staff writers as well as experts and thought leaders on their given topic.
3. Queer Ideas
Mark Phillips, founder and CEO of Bluefrog, writes this sometimes irreverent, usually cutting-edge, always intelligent and interesting blog. His observations and links to helpful research and resources make this a good one to expand your mind.
4. Beth’s Blog
Many people see Beth Kantor as the go-to blog for nonprofit fitness checks, subtle nudges toward excellence, and good advice on social media, networking and organizational management. Beth’s writing style is accessible and friendly, yet the blog is packed with resources, links to scholarly studies and other references that you need to know about.
5. A Fine Blog
Allison Fine, co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” writes a blog that is a combination of acute observation and commentary on articles, videos and campaigns, and collateral on fundraising, networking and social media. An extra bonus on Allison’s site is links to her monthly podcast interviews for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
6. Philanthropy 2173
Lucy Bernholz, founder and president of Blueprint Research & Design, Inc., authors this blog. Bernholz is to nonprofits what Rachel Maddow is to liberal politics—intelligent and incisive yet accessible, wonky, and (respectfully) pulls no punches. The blog approaches nonprofits as a third business sector. Bernholz doesn’t sit behind a desk; she often interviews game-changing sector leaders and shares their conversations and her insights.
So there you have it! The best nonprofit blogs you’ll find anywhere. Of course there are some good ones out there that we missed. Do you have a favorite?