The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Live Blogging: Case Study in Fund Blogging with Lisa Kays of the Washington Area Women's Foundation

We're here at the Women's Funding Network annual conference in Atlanta in a workshop on how funds and foundations can start their own blogs, or participate here at The She Change. Deborah Siegel, of Girl with Pen, and Courtney E. Martin, of feministing, just outlined why blogging is a great opportunity for the women's funding movement, offering a bit about the nuts and bolts of starting one on, and are now welcoming Lisa Kays, who will be talking about her experience of blogging at the Washington Area Women's Foundation.

Lisa: When I came to the foundation, I had no experience as an organizational blogger. I had a personal blog, so I knew about the mechanics, but I had no idea how to start or build an organizational blog.

Starting tools:
probono webshop set up a blog
one enthusiastic staff person (intern or volunteer is great too!)
board buy in (sort of) [room laughs]
two board champions
an experimental open spirit (she was new, which was a blessing in some ways)
Lisa sees blogging as interesting, competitive, fun.

She started out writing very researched posts, light on opinion. Very straightforward. A board member said, "Could you please take this a little less seriously?" FREEDOM! And off she went.

Lisa now writes posts on economic security, but she also posts on Grey's Anatomy and Avenue Q. "Intersplice the personal. A blog is something you can play with," she says.

Question from the audience: have donors or board members emailed with concerns?

Lisa: Not once. If I have a tickle, I run it by somebody. You can be engaging and personal and interesting, without offending. It is a challenge.

Lisa points to the Blogging Guidelines that she wrote for the Washington Area Foundation. These became the "frame of her blog." This frame now guides readers, staff, and everyone else involved.

Question from the audience: How does an organizational blog develop?
Phase One:
Give thought to who you want to be; what do you want your content to look like?

Phase Two:
Reach out. Send personal emails to folks with blogs, invite people to guest blog, ask to be linked to or placed on the blog roll (for terminology, check here).
Lisa thinks of herself as the "branding czar." (She tried to get it on her card, but no luck.)

Question from the audience: When you have another voice posting on your blog, do you label it as such?

Lisa: YES, absolutely. Name on the post and a bio post. No anonymous posts.

Question from the audience: How many hours a week are you spending on your blog?

Lisa: It's gotten to be less and less. I think blogs actually save time. It's like a start up business. Now, I would say that I spend anywhere from half an hour to two hours a week. In the beginning it was an hour a day. If staff say something even remotely interesting, I would say, "That would make a great blog post!" Sometimes I ghost writes them, but a lot of times they blog themselves. Blogging is also a great way to reach out to donors and not ask them for money. After two and half years, I'm barely writing twice a month. Now I get emails requesting to blog. If you invest in being an evangelist for the blog early on, over time you're just setting up posts. Blog at least three times a week to keep it dynamic. After two and half years, we now get picked up by other bloggers without me soliciting them. We have a lot more guest bloggers. Readership is going up. It's been a great way to build relationships with our donors beyond asking them to write a check. Finally, I've also had success with grantee partners who want to blog.

Posted by Courtney Martin

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