What is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a free micro blogging platform with an emphasis on visuals and creativity. It’s also a social network; as well as setting up your own blog, you can ‘follow’ others on Tumblr, and their content will be seen in your dashboard when you log in.
Like Twitter, it allows you to tag content so it will be linked to other posts on the same topic. It allows longer and more varied content than Twitter however, and users can post text, images, video and audio.
What can charities use Tumblr for?
Tumblr is great as a source of inspiration; there are lots of fantastic Tumblrs on design and photography for example. It’s also an excellent platform for connecting with a young audience if that describes your service users or supporters, with about 50% of its user base aged under 25. But the real benefit of Tumblr to charities is in publishing. It allows you to set up a blog extremely quickly, and the wide variety of free themes available mean that it works equally well for text or image based sites.
The blogging interface is one of the most intuitive and easy to use that I’ve ever seen, so if you want to get staff or service users writing blogs, it’s a really easy system for them to learn. Its mobile apps make Tumblr extremely quick and easy to update on the move.
It is particularly useful for setting up sites to take public submissions. Tumblr comes with two built in features – Submit and Ask, which allow people using the site to upload their own content and/or to send you questions. Submissions can be images, text, video and audio, and you can turn on moderation so that submissions are approved before being published. The built in functionality is extremely quick to set up and you don’t need to worry about space for hosting files – Tumblr will handle everything.
I wouldn’t recommend using Tumblr as your main website, as the functionality that a proper charity site needs isn’t there, but it’s great for blogs and campaign sites.
- A simple Tumblr site for the Barnardos Make a Child’s Christmas campaign, with public submissions
- This beautiful Art for the Arctic 30 Tumblr from Greenpeace shows just how much a Tumblr can be customised
- The It Gets Better Project Tumblr is an engaging mix of user submitted content, their own content and posts shared from other Tumblrs
- Inside Zaatari from Save the Children – photographs by Syrian teenagers in refugee camps
- Planned Parenthood use a Tumblr to take questions about sex and contraception
Things to be aware of
- If you have young or vulnerable service users using Tumblr to blog, be aware that adult content showing up on the Dashboard can occasionally be an issue. Update: Tumblr are starting to remove all adult content from the site from Dec 2018: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/3/18123752/tumblr-adult-content-porn-ban-date-explicit-changes-why-safe-mode
- If you are taking sensitive public submissions (like with the Planned Parenthood example above) be careful when publishing the posts as user info can sometimes show up. It’s best to leave the submissions in the back end and just copy the info into new posts, as Planned Parenthood have done.
- Free Tumblr Themes to customise the look of your Tumblr
- Resources for charities using Tumblr from Beth Kanter
- The blog F*ck Yeah Accessibility has guides and advice on making your Tumblr accessible (Tumblr unfortunately does not have accessibility built in)
Are you using Tumblr for your charity? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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We’re considering setting up a blog to give us more scope to share information about our ongoing work & services we provide to the general public. As a result I clicked straight into your 5-min tumblr guide. My vision was more of a blog that would be integrated into our existing WordPress website (as part of a general redesign) rather than one hosted by an external platform. Would you have any thoughts/advice in this regard?
WordPress is perfect for blogging, in fact it was designed as a blogging system but is flexible enough to be used as a complete website Content Management System as well. I would use the blog functionality in your existing WordPress site; I agree that it wouldn’t make sense to set up on an external platform.
Hope that helps