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Tips for Nonprofit Blog Carnival Hosts

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Thank you for agreeing to be a host for the Nonprofit Blog Carnival. Here is a list of best practices that I hope will be helpful. If you're just thinking about being a host, the following will give you a good idea of what is involved. If you decide you'd like to volunteer, send an email to Joanne. Hosts are invited at the end of the year for the following year.

Picking a Theme for Your Carnival

We prefer a theme to a general call. Pick a theme that you like and enjoy learning about, that is timely, and relevant to the nonprofit world.

However, make the theme general enough that many people will feel able to respond. A too narrow theme will limit submissions. Our audience is broad and includes staff and volunteers at nonprofits of all sizes and in various capacities, as well as consultants, speakers, and foundation staff.

Choosing Submissions

Hopefully, you'll have so many submissions that finding good ones will not be difficult. However, if not, feel free to browse around for posts that fit the theme, but that were not submitted. Ask the poster if you can include that post in the carnival.

Pick relatively recent posts, ones that are particularly well written, and posts that can stand on their own. A post that is part of a series is not as satisfying and can even be confusing. Of course, relevancy to our audience and the theme is paramount. Try to include posts from large and small sites, beginners and pros. Check out past carnivals to make sure that the same people are not being featured over and over. That will discourage new voices from submitting.

Writing Your Carnival Post

There are many ways to set up your carnival post: a bulleted list, a narrative format, or some combination are typical. But feel free to innovate. The more interesting the format, the stickier the post.

Include at the end of your post, the host, theme, and submission deadline of the next carnival with appropriate links. This will provide continuity and help the carnival keep rolling.

Use the Nonprofit Carnival logo in your post.

Promoting Your Carnival

Promote your carnival early in the month and then again about a week before the submission due date. In the beginning of the month, you could write a blog post announcing that you are taking submissions, what the theme is, and the submission due date. Refer back to the last month's carnival so people can see what the carnival is all about. Be sure to Tweet the link to your announcement, add it to your Facebook page, or use other social media to get the word out. Here is a good example of a beginning of the month promotion.

About 5-7 days before the due date, use social media to remind people that the due date is coming up. On the day before the due date, promote it again with something like, "Last Call for Nonprofit Blog Carnival."

On the day you post your carnival, notify those people whose posts were selected. Ask them to help promote the carnival.

When the carnival has been posted, email its link to Joanne who will send an announcement out to the other hosts and a general interest list. Use social media to announce the publication.

Here are some tips from Carnival hosts:

  • "I set up a few CoTweet updates so my account would automatically remind folks a few times about the submission deadline."

  • I think my biggest tip would be to make your topic broad enough that all kinds of people can answer it, but specific enough that they don't feel overwhelmed by what to write about. I also think it helps to make your topic a question.

  • I'd really like to see more small nonprofits take advantage of blog carnivals. There are so many, on every topic under the sun, it should be possible for any group to find something appropriate. Blog carnivals are a terrific, low-effort, no-cost way to promote a nonprofit's blog: a great way to get in front of a new (and very targeted) audience, as well as to get relevant backlinks that will help more people find them in the search engines. As a blog promotion strategy, it's right up there with commenting on blogs; and from what I see, both are underutilized by nonprofit folks, perhaps in favour of other social media.

  • Have an open-topic, but suggest a theme. I think that gets you the best of both worlds: some people get inspired by the theme, but others can't get around to creating a post just for that purpose. Do that, and you get more to choose from.

  • Do not publish on a Friday!

  • The carnival is only as successful as its contributors. A retweet and a repost on your blog is often times just as valuable as submitting an article or hosting the carnival.

Got other ideas that worked for you? Send them to Joanne for inclusion here.

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