Social Media & Grantmaking Part IX: A Member’s Perspective on Blogging

For this third post on blogs, I thought it would be helpful to hear from NCG member Give2Asia about their blogging experience.

Once again I think it’s time to see how these social media tools are actually used by grantmakers. And since I was really happy with last week’s Twitter interview blog post, I thought I’d again ask a member to give their perspective on a social media tool—this time on blogs and blogging.

To find a member I took to Twitter. It seems fitting to use a social media tool (Twitter) to connect with members about this blog series on Social Media & Grantmaking.

I sent out a Tweet to several NCG members in the hopes they would see my interview call and answer it. And…success! New NCG member Give2Asia sent me a message saying they were interested in participating in an interview about their blog, Give2Asia Forum.

Birger Stamperdahl is Give2Asia’s Director of Marketing & Partnerships. For over four years, he has been responsible for Give2Asia’s communications to donors and clients, media outreach, overall messaging, and online presence. His team is responsible for Give2Asia’s website and its social marketing activities.

Following is the interview I conducted via e-mail with Birger.

 

NCG: Birger, a big thank you for accepting my interview call over Twitter to discuss Give2Asia’s blog. First, how many people are on staff at Give2Asia? And who is responsible for creating blog content? Is there one blogger, or many?

My pleasure, and thank you for the opportunity to share what we’ve learned. In the United States, Give2Asia has 12 employees who work closely with donors and who are helping to get the word out about philanthropy for Asia. In Asia, in addition to three staff in China, we work with The Asia Foundation’s offices and with Give2Asia advisors in order to offer a comprehensive footprint across Asia and a presence in over 20 countries.

This presence allows us to build relationships with hundreds of local charitable groups in the region, which means we have a great deal information and many stories to tell about charitable projects and their results. Partly for this reason, while the marketing team is responsible for the blog, everyone at Give2Asia is involved in writing stories and contributing content.

NCG: When did Give2Asia start its blog? Why did you decide to start blogging and what topics do you cover on your blog?

We began the blog over two years ago originally to build more visibility for the stories we had to tell. Up until that point, all of our case studies and project examples lived on the website. It became clear that developing a blog site would give us more flexibility and would offer our audience one place to easily find a wide range of story content. So initially, we thought of it as a way to better share stories.

It quickly, however, became clear that blogging was a less formal, more flexible way to share all kinds of information. We did not need to write case studies told always in Give2Asia’s voice. We could have staff tell stories in their own voice, and even have partners and grantees as guest writers. Nowadays, we post all kinds of content on our blog, from travel diaries to partner event announcements to third-party videos we just happen to like.

NCG: As a grantmaker, what benefits, challenges or drawbacks have you found to blogging? Has anything unexpected or surprising come out of your blogging experience?

What has been surprising, and what took us a while to understand, is the “social media” part of blogging. As I mentioned, we were originally looking at the blog site as a place to post stories, and hopefully better distribute them to people who care about our content.

However, in the last year especially, we have discovered the benefits of sharing stories with other sites, reposting stories from sites that we like, and better integrating our blog with Twitter and Facebook. We aren’t just posting stories any more. We are trying to spark conversation, add our perspective to existing conversations, and promote partners and initiatives that align with our values and goals.

Something else has also happened along the way: Our voice (and voices) has developed and become more confident. This has been very important to the success of social media efforts. Because social media is less formal, people like Dien Yuen can step forward as individuals with stories told in their voice, but also representing Give2Asia. It’s very empowering when individuals in the organization can share perspectives and ideas publicly through social media. It shows that these are issues we all care about deeply and that they are topics we all think about. At the same time we can have more fun with Give2Asia’s “voice” and identity.

One last thing: Reporters today rely heavily on blogs to find perspectives, track trends, and identify issue experts. I believe our blog’s importance to overall media outreach will continue to increase in importance.

NCG: Any advice for a grantmaker who is considering starting up their own blog? Anything you would have done differently?

I think people’s social media strategies continue to evolve. Last month, TechSoup co-CEO Daniel Ben-Horin wrote a blog article called “Punching at Your Own Weight in Social Media.” He made some great observations about why and whether to get into social media.

For example, asking, “what do you want to do and how do you want to do it?” Have a clear idea of why you are starting a blog and what role you want it to play for your organization. “Punching at your own weight”, for me, means sharing what you know, talking about what you do, and not trying to be too profound all at once. See how the conversation changes and how it transforms your message.

NCG: What blogs, philanthropy or otherwise, do you regularly read?

In addition to NCG’s blog of course, I read Philanthropy blogs such as:

Tactical Philanthropy
Asian Philanthropy Forum
Asian American Giving
China Philanthropy
The Asia Foundation’s blog “In Asia”

And for blogs that follow social media in general: Mashable.com and AllTop.com

Another personal recommendation for people who can’t get enough of politics, check out this a great site for watching the many political polls that are reported by the media: fivethirtyeight.com

NCG: Thanks so much for sharing your perspective on blogging and for offering other grantmakers an example of how to use this social media tool.

Check out Give2Asia Forum at http://www.give2asiaforum.org/

 

The Social Media & Grantmaking blog post series will cover a wide range of topics. Check out the introduction post outlining the series.

To see all the posts in this series, simply type “social media series” into the search box located upper right of this web page.

 

About the author

Marisela T. Orta is NCG's Communications Associate. She manages the NCG's website, blog and Twitter feed.

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