Monetization Models Enable Nonprofit Growth

By Megan Bradley

In order for media monetization to be successful, a nonprofit must follow a media monetization model so that revenue is maximized and fundraising goals can be achieved.

According to a Communications MDR study, if a company is monetizing its audience they must first choose a model that is most likely to encourage the audience to pay. The three models identified in the study are consumer-paid, funded and hybrid models.

Consumer-paid models extract revenue directly from the organization’s audience. Funded models are typically advertising and other branded content and hybrid models are a mix of both models.

This list of funding models for nonprofits demonstrates how the consumer-paid model can be applied in a variety of ways to achieving fundraising goals. One local nonprofit, Big Brothers Big Sisters, follows a few of the models described in order to fundraise and monetize their media.

Big Brothers Big Sisters works in Champaign to match adults (“bigs”) and kids (“littles”) to foster relationships that will impact the littles’ lives positively. The nonprofit is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring organization.

Fundraising and monetization of the media is an important aspect of operations for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Unlike some other nonprofits, the organization has an employee specifically hired to run their social media channels. Therefore, their allocation of funds towards communication efforts is a large part of why they are the largest donor-supported mentoring organization.

In order to monetize the media, Big Brothers Big Sisters uses the consumer-paid models of membership and business sales. Although the business paid funding model is not directly media related, they monetize their media around the events by posting about them and sending emails to people who have donated in the past.

“We’re bringing back a program called Match Makers, which is where they (donors) donate every month, that’s directly deducted from their paycheck,” Kate Quill, one of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ full-time employees, said.

This program is one of the best ways that Big Brothers Big Sisters monetizes their media, because this ensures that they have a constant incoming stream of donations.

Quill also said that the organization has multiple connections to local radio stations, where they can set up speakers and frequently update their advertising messages in order to reach a wider audience, somewhat utilizing a funded monetization model. The usage of radio is a beneficial way for Big Brothers Big Sisters to monetize the media using resources that they already have access to.

Although some nonprofits offer products that can be directly sold to raise money, others like Big Brothers Big Sisters offer services instead. Big Brothers Big Sisters offer their audiences the chance to become invested in important social issues that they can work to fix. By promoting this issue on social media, company websites and mass emails, nonprofits can monetize their media presence effectively.

In order to maximize fundraising and communication efforts through media, Big Brothers Big Sisters enlisted Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO). SCNO worked with the Registered Student Organization (RSO) aspect of Big Brothers Big Sisters which operates on campus.

SCNO found a disconnect between the RSO and the actual Big Brothers Big Sisters agency as well as a lack of communication. To solve this problem, SCNO suggested taking steps such as developing a newsletter. Updating the community as well as potential sponsors about progress being made in the agency can become a useful media monetization tool for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

For nonprofits to successfully fundraise through media channels, the consumer-paid model is the only monetization model that can be applied because nonprofits do not typically have a large advertising outreach or offer products that can have paid features.

Although nonprofits are limited in what monetization models they can follow given their services, they are able to utilize a variety of funding models in order to ensure fundraising goals are met and to maximize their revenue.

In a blog post by Amy Sample Ward, the line between being a nonprofit and being a business when it comes to media monetization is discussed. Essentially, Ward states that the media must be used in many different ways in order to allow a nonprofit to make money off of it.

“Multichannel strategies are your keys to creating campaigns, content and calls to action that meet your supporters where they are and encourage them to support your organization,” Ward wrote.

The greatest tool offered by the media is its versatility and ability to reach any supporter of a cause anywhere in the world. Nonprofits must maximize on this potential and develop it alongside media monetization models to fully capitalize on their media.

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