What Kodak’s experience with blogging can teach nonprofits

Photo from one of Kodak's blogs
Photo from one of Kodak’s blogs showing an employee’s family



Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend a wonderful presentation by Jennifer Cisney, chief blogger at the Eastman Kodak Company. The event was sponsored by the Advertising Club of Buffalo.


Listening to Jennifer, people at our table expressed envy for the grand scale of Kodak’s social media effort. The company has not one, but three blogs, each with a different purpose. In addition to having a “chief blogger” and staff to interact with people on their own blogs, Kodak also plans to hire a “chief listener,” who will search to see what people are saying about Kodak on other sites and other blogs.


Still, Kodak’s experience with blogging offers many lessons for nonprofits, even small ones.


Why should I have a blog and open myself up to the possibility of negative comments?

If you’re lucky, people are already talking about your organization, Jennifer said, but you may not know  what they’re saying because the conversation is happening elsewhere. What’s worse than people saying bad things about your organization is that they may not be talking about you all! You need to enter the conversation, and having a blog is a way to do that.


If people have a complaint with your organization, it’s great if they post it on your blog because you have the opportunity to make things right with that customer or client or supporter.


“It should be seen as an opportunity to turn the situation around,” Jennifer said.


Comments generally aren’t as nasty as people fear. Jennifer suggests that one way to keep the conversation civil is to make your blog human. Kodak’s blogs aren’t anonymous announcements from a corporation, but are personal stories written by employees. Posts are written by various employees, and each post carries the person’s name and title, along with his or her photo.


“Putting a real person in front of someone really makes a difference,” she said.


One employee talks about how she gave birth prematurely, and the baby was whisked away to an intensive care unit. The mother saw her baby for the first time through a photo taken with a Kodak camera. Your nonprofit should have lots of compelling stories you can tell that put a face on your organization.



How do I convince management that we should do a blog?

What Jennifer did was create a mock-up of the blog to show other people in her organization. When they saw the kinds of stories that would run in the blog, they were more comfortable with the idea. If organizations similar to yours already have a blog, show those blogs to management, too.


Get others to help you.

Even though Kodak has a chief blogger, Jennifer doesn’t write all the posts herself! She has 20 to 30 people on a schedule who write posts, and there are more than 100 people who have posted at one time or another; some have written just one post. You may be the person who organizes the blog, but you can enlist others in your organization to write material that you post.


Some posts on the Kodak blogs are just a photo and a caption. That’s a great way for a nonprofit to tell a story, and it’s a timesaver, too!



Some rules that are good for any blog:

  • Write good posts
  • Be human
  • Be honest and open
  • Update regularly



To figure out how to work social media into your fundraising strategy,  contact us  at 1 (888) 244‑4013 or [email protected].


Fundraising Assets helps busy fundraising professionals raise more money, save valuable time and reduce costs. We offer consulting, writing, design and production services for direct mail and e-mail fundraising, social networking and more.



  1. 1

    Thanks for a great read. I agree strongly with “Be Human”. If the reader can identify with the writer, they are much more likely to be civil and not respond as one would to a faceless, corporate press release. Writing as a person generates more of an emotional connection. We blog often on our site, and while some negative comments come out of the woodwork, we welcome them and see them as an opportunity for us to deliver better customer service going forward to address the issue in question, and hopefully affect process change to avoid similar issues in the future.


    Comment by Garry Polmateer — January 28, 2010 @ 8:42 AM

  2. 2

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!
    Connie Oswald Stofko

    Comment by Connie — January 28, 2010 @ 8:58 AM

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    GREAT post! Thanks for the great suggestions.

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    Thanks so much for your kind words. You’ve made my day!

    Comment by Connie — April 25, 2010 @ 2:48 PM

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