As the world spirals into ever greater chaos…

“The true lesson of history was this: that the so-called victims, the poor, the downtrodden, the masses, had always struggled with spears and arrows, with their hands and songs of courage and hope, to end their oppression and exploitation: that they would continue struggling until a human kingdom came: a world in which goodness and beauty and strength and courage would be seen not in how cunning one can be, not in how much power to oppress one possessed, but only in one’s contribution in creating a more humane world.”

– Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Petals of Blood

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Online Marketing for Non-Profit Organisations

I’ve been asked me for advice on online marketing several times recently. People who are running non-profit fundraisers, organising public awareness campaigns and seeking sponsorship have all asked if I have recommendations for getting an audience online. 

As an online freelance writer with some background in non-profit communications, this kind of question is at the intersection of my interests.  Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered through my reading and work. First, two essential suggestions:

  • Generate quality, professional content
  • Invest in good communications

Before I get to those though, have a look at this video on the breathtaking growth of social media:

Every communications person or online freelance writer I know is frustrated by those who believe that anyone can manage a successful communications campaign. Anyone can try – and it won’t be as disastrous as a layperson attempting brain surgery – but outcomes will suffer if you don’t seek expert advice or professional help. Blog writing, website design and production, online storytelling, SEO – these are all skills that need to be honed.

To deal with this issue, your first option is to outsource content production. I work for Copify, which is a UK-based content provider. Essentially, you post your project and price and an online freelance writer will pick it up and efficiently produce writing that meets your specifications. This guarantees professional content, but it can also be beneficial to have someone external produce the content, as it guarantees that it’s accessible to external readers. When I worked on gender-based violence issues, I would write blog posts that were up to 1,500 words long, because I felt the need to factor in every piece of important information and every possible qualification. I have no doubt that this was dramatically off-putting to readers.

There are also lots of courses out there for social media and digital communications, if you do want to make your own way. Certainly, if you’re setting up a long-term charity project or small business this would be my recommendation. You can pay for these (though sometimes charities will get discounts) or there are free courses online in just about every area of digital media – though they do take time and commitment.  Bear in mind that the field is evolving so rapidly that you will have to refresh your knowledge constantly, through further training or by reading blogs on internet content, which is what I do.

Another common misconception is that online communication costs nothing. I can’t emphasise strongly enough that social media is NOT free.

Yes, online marketing is cheaper than radio or newspaper ads so it does afford unprecedented opportunities for communication to small organisations and dedicated individuals. However, website hosting services and social media platforms are increasingly rewarding those who spend, at the expense of those who don’t.

On Facebook (potentially your most powerful online platform) more money unquestionably equals more hits. Many of us principally disagree with Facebook policy, but that’s the way it is. Similarly, your YouTube, Twitter, website and Google content will be more accessible if you buy ad space and sponsored posts. It’s not essential, but you should bear it in mind.

Pokarekare Ana

New Zealand’s first same-sex weddings took place today. An excellent reason to revisit the breathtaking moment in April when the parliament voted to amend the Marriage Act and the public gallery burst into a Maori love song. I can’t be the only one who weeps uncontrollably whenever I watch it…right?

 

It’s a tough news week, but the world is often beautiful and people often good. Honest.

Dervla Murphy on gay adoption

Dervla Murphy on gay adoption

While sail-railing from London to Dublin yesterday, I read Dervla Murphy’s ‘The Island that Dared: Journeys in Cuba‘.

Discussing revolutionary Cuba’s infamous homophobia and a recent proposal to extend family rights, including adoption rights, to gay Cubans, Murphy announces the following:

“It must be admitted that I, if Cuban, would oppose the adoption clause. Growing up in the twenty-first century will be confusing enough without having unisex parents.”

Casual dismissal of LGBT rights (for the sake of the children, naturally!) is always something of a kick in the teeth. Coming from Murphy, who was widely criticised for choosing single motherhood in 1960s Ireland, the hypocrisy is especially galling. Murphy was and remains (quite rightly) defiant about her own non-traditional family. It’s so disappointing that she can’t extend so much as understanding to couples facing almost identical prejudice and intolerance.

Incidentally, her daughter Rachel (not just raised by a single parent, but brought trekking in India at five) appears in ‘Island that Dared’, aged 36 and with three daughters of her own. She seems well-adjusted and content with her lot, as the children of loving parents generally are.