By: Megan Bradley —
The increasingly digital landscape of the modern world, paired with any organization’s need to constantly be able to create profit has led to the creation of the concept of “monetizing the media.”
Nonprofits rely on social media and their websites to spread their messages to key audiences who may not otherwise support the organization. So, it is extremely important for nonprofits to be able to monetize their social media presence. The process of media monetization refers to turning existing online traffic into revenue for an organization. This process can be accomplished via multiple different models such as consumer-paid, funded and hybrid models.
According to a study conducted by Communications MDR, consumer-paid models can be accomplished via subscriptions or paywalls, in which visitors to a website are required to pay in order to continue. Funded models are advertisements or branding which is completely paid for by an organization. Lastly, hybrid models offer a free product with add-ons that consumers have to pay for. Despite the various models and options that can be utilized to build revenue through media, it can be challenging for a nonprofit organization to implement any of these models.
The challenge facing a nonprofit looking to monetize their social media is who to charge, and although charging people is not the only way to monetize the media, it can be one of the quickest and most effective.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review by Amy Jo Martin, even with minimal investment from the beginning in social media, organizations can decrease their spending on advertising and customer service.
One local nonprofit that looked to increase their media monetization is Walking with Angels. This organization works internationally in a variety of sectors in order to create a more hopeful future for some of the most vulnerable societies, such as various communities in Africa. Walking with Angels accomplishes their mission by working with grassroots leaders to support struggling populations in areas such as education, enterprise and mentorship.
Walking with Angels’ social media situation mainly relied on their Facebook, which has grown through word-of-mouth, to share their messages. Walking with Angels, like many nonprofits, has a nonexistent media budget.
Annette Donnelly, the organization’s founder, said that because the organization has promised donors that everything donated to them goes directly into programs intended to help further their mission, almost no money is spent on social media.
“If something looks amazing and I think it will help the organization, then I will personally step up and spend the money to do that,” Donnelly said.
For example, the founder will personally provide the money for Facebook ads and other pay-to-use features on social media if it will help Walking with Angels.
To improve their media presence and work to monetize their social media in order to raise more money for fundraisers, Walking with Angels enlisted the help of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO).
In the fall of 2016, SCNO suggested that Walking with Angels implement various websites, automate blog posts and update their websites more often. However, the nonprofit has not been able to implement some of the recommendations due to lack of resources on their end.
“It requires a little bit more power and hours than we have,” Donnelly said. “We’re totally volunteer so I think if we had someone a little more focused on doing what was suggested it would work better.”
SCNO’s suggestions, such as posting more regularly on Facebook, having engaging posts and promoting awards that Walking with Angels had received have the possibility of increasing revenue from media. This could also engage the public to have better retention on their media pages.
Walking with Angels’ situation is not completely out of the ordinary. According to the 2017 Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, 19% of nonprofits find money for communications only as needed.
The budget, people and resources problem is why SCNO’s recommendations have not yet been followed by Walking with Angels, but Donnelly says she is hoping to implement them someday.
Regardless of the form of digital media, it is important for organizations and nonprofits to be able to make the most out of their online presence given the resources that they can afford, the people they have and the time they can put in to develop their accounts. If a nonprofit is able to invest some money and people into its media, it will be able to see a return on investment via monetization of media.