Small voices

Duncan Green speculates in From Poverty To Power on why NGOs struggle with blogging.

Why does anyone struggle with blogging? You feel like you’re going to be graded. You don’t necessarily want to share your thoughts with everyone. You started a draft post and deleted it a million times. Nothing much happened this week. Someone told you you should be blogging three times a week and it all just seems like a heck of a commitment.

I have worked with a few small organisations, and observed other barriers. The proverbial has hit the fan and you’re dealing with that. The electricity has been out for five days, the UPS is worn out and there’s something nesting in the computer. You’ve been writing reports all day already. English isn’t your first language but you feel like you should be writing in English. The volunteer who started the blog left and didn’t train anybody. You’ve tried several times to upload a photograph through a tortoiselike internet connection but it’s just not happening. You emailed a bunch of information to the charity that supports you abroad and they just forwarded it on to their small mailing list of previous donors. You hate computers.

The irony is that really small organisations probably don’t have a communications team, when they’re the only ones who can communicate what they’re up to. Questions of ‘sign-offs’, tone of voice and authenticity are irrelevant – anything that comes out comes unfiltered, straight from the horse’s mouth, and is as likely to be a set of pictures and some commentary in a Word document as anything else.

If you only follow the development blogosphere, then you’re missing the stories of the very many grassroots organisations that don’t necessarily blog. As Duncan Green says, “there is more to life (and social media) than blogging”. If you’re interested in what smaller organisations are up to, you might need to put some more effort into hearing what they have to say.