May 9, 2009

Seven blogging tools reviewed

A detailed look at the top blogging software platforms

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, businesses, individuals

Guest post by TechSoup

While often regarded as a platform for people to share their personal stories, a blog can also be used to tell the story of an organization. Whether showcasing your work, offering behind-the-scenes glimpse into your nonprofit, highlighting the people you serve, or advocating a particular point of view, a blog can be a powerful — and influential — communication and public-relations tool for your organization.

So how do you create a blog? Let’s say that you’ve already spent time reading other blogs and articles on how to successfully maintain and promote your blog. (More Resources at the end of this article will help you get started.) You’ve defined your goals, your target audience, and the type of content you’ll provide. Your next challenge is to pick the blogging tool that offers the right features for you.

There are a number of good blogging tools, but choosing among them can be confusing. In this report, we’ll take a detailed look at the top blogging tools out there and outline key considerations for selecting a blogging platform, including the skills required to set it up; the ease with which you can post to it; whether you can upload images, video, or audio to it; its ability to moderate comments and prevent spam; how closely you can tailor its design to match the look and feel of your organization’s Web site and other collateral; and tools you can use to track who’s reading it.

The seven blogging platforms we’ve chosen to review are Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Movable Type, WordPress, ExpressionEngine, and TextPattern. We chose these tools because they are the ones most commonly used to create a typical nonprofit blog — by a long shot. 77 percent of all the bloggers included in the Nonprofit Blog Exchange and 81 percent of respondents in a survey of serious bloggers conducted by ProBlogger used one of these seven tools.

That said, these seven tools certainly don’t meet all possible needs. This report doesn’t include the more sophisticated tools you might use to build a complex multi-blogger community, or blogging software that provides deep Web site integration. You’ll want to look beyond this report if you need a posting workflow, where, for instance, an editor can approve posts from many different blog authors; a closed community in which only specific people can see, post, and comment; complex integration with other Web site content such as forums; or if you’re building a Web site that includes a blog built from scratch. For example, Drupal and Joomla! — both free, open source, content management systems — were among the top ten tools most commonly used blogging tools in the Blog Market Analysis. These tools, and a number of other powerful and sophisticated blog and community tools, are well worth a look if your blogging needs are more complex

But for the rest of us — whether we’re with a big nonprofit that wants a highly branded, tailored blog with multiple authors, or a tiny organization looking for something easy to set up and use — one of the seven tools covered here will work just fine. We’ll help you ask the right questions to determine which blog is right for your organization and provide reviews of the most popular nonprofit blogging platforms.

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May 7, 2009

6 tips on how to shoot digital photos like a pro

Future Fitness Technology

Photo by JD Lasica

 

Improve the quality of the images you shoot for your organization

Target audience: Cause organizations, nonprofits, NGOs, journalists, general public. This is part of our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and create media.

JD LasicaWith millions of amateur shutterbugs sporting digital cameras that can produce professional results, more and more people are looking to take their shooting skills to the next level.

Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Move closer

The most common mistake beginners make is that they stand too far away. Get up close and personal with your subjects. Group your subjects close to each other. (See above.) Pay attention to the expressions on their faces.

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May 7, 2009

How Twitter can benefit nonprofits

amysamplewardJD LasicaOne of the things we want to do here at Socialbrite.org is to highlight top-flight presentations, tutorials and videos that we spot on the Web. Here’s one we just came across, from nonprofit expert Amy Sample Ward: Twitter.org: Twitter for Nonprofit Organizations. Amy wrote about her presentation, and recent appearance at the 140-Character Mission: Social Media & Entrepreneurship event, here.

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May 2, 2009

7 tips for communicating with people with disabilities

Glenda Watson Hyatt at the Venetian Hotel

Glenda Watson Hyatt, who blogs at Doitmyselfblog.com (“Your Accessibility Conscience”), gave an extraordinary presentation here at the SOBCon, Business School for Bloggers, talking about how to make websites and blogs more accessible to the disabled. It took her three months to perfect her presentation. I conducted a video interview with her that I’ll post here soon.

You can download her free How POUR is Your Blog? Tips for Increasing Your Blog’s Accessibility and discover how accessible your blog truly is. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the ebook.)

Here are her 7 Tips for Communicating With People With Disabilities:

1. Speak directly to the person rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter.

2. Offer to shake hands with people who have limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb is appropriate.

3. Identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting a person who is sight impaired.

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April 30, 2009

Tim Ferriss’ method of supporting causes

tim-ferriss

JD LasicaTim Ferriss, author of the best-seller The Four-Hour Work Week, appeared today via uStream at the Inbound Marketing Summit during the session “How to Create a Worldwide Social Media Phenomenon.”

He took questions from the audience, and I asked how he decides which causes to support.

It wasn’t an idle question. Ferriss has become a remarkably adept advocate for philanthropic causes in a startlingly short time. He has successfully made use of social media tools to raise thousands of dollars to build schools in Vietnam, libraries in Nepal and India, and most recently, to help thousands of classrooms in the U.S. obtain basic classroom supplies. (Source: WalletPop)

Tim singled out three organizations and initiatives as exemplars of philanthropy in the age of Web 2.0:

Donorschoose.org, the remarkable organization founded by Charles Best (I did a video interview with him Monday and hope to post it soon). Ferriss, who sits on the organization’s board, said the ability for users to select the specific educational causes they support and to receive tangible feedback are key drivers of its success.

roomtoread1Roomtoread is a global organization that has established more than 7,000 libraries in the developing world since 2000.

Charity: water, the nonprofit that was the beneficiary of the Twestival event in 205 cities, is representative of a new breed of charitable organizations, he said. Some of these groups have smartly begun to set up an administrative structure in which 100 percent of donated funds go directly to the cause, with a separate fund, generated through other means (such as a small add-on to support the group’s operations), paying for administration.

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April 29, 2009

Secrets and sex education


Secrets and sex education from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaHannah Cordero, program coordinator for the Education Theatre Program of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, tells about the Secrets program geared toward teens through theatrical performances. Educational Theatre Programs served over 360,000 people in Northern California in 2008. Hannah spoke at the recent sex::tech conference in San Francisco.

To see upcoming performances, go to: kp.org/etp/ncal/.

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