Should a 501c3 nonprofit blog be monetized to raise funds? Here are points that every nonprofit should consider.
The term “monetize” typically means to make money by selling advertising space on a blog or website. When people hear that you have a blog they automatically think raking in big bucks. The truth is that most bloggers make very little money (if at all). Staff and board members will eventually ask if 501c3 nonprofits should monetize their blog. Many bloggers update and work their blog as a sideline to their regular job or to get general information to the public.
Charities often work their blogs in the same way that hobbyist bloggers do. Maintaining a blog is not the main focus of an organization – the mission statement is! The goal for many nonprofits is to use the blog as a tool to reach a wider audience or to keep the public informed. There is nothing wrong with blogging for that purpose.
However, in this time of shrinking revenue a few dollars can mean the difference between staying a float or cutting back programs. For this reason, it can be worth asking the question “Should 501c3 nonprofits monetize their blogs?”
The answer isn’t always a simple “yes” or “no”. There are many considerations. These are just a few.
Consideration #1 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Is your blogger ( also called online writer) experienced?
It doesn’t matter how many hours your blogger spends surfing the internet. Whether you are looking to inform the public or make money your organization deserves results. There are specific ways of marketing and writing a blog that can largely effect the amount of traffic it receives. Always ask if your blogger maintains a blog, what the goals are and the amount of traffic it generates.
Consideration #2 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
If your blogger is inexperienced is he or she willing to learn the ropes?
Quality posts, search engine optimization and social networking are the primary means to increase blog traffic. It is up to the blogger to use these techniques. Even the most experienced online writers will tell you that new tips and techniques come out frequently. If your potential blogger isn’t willing to learn, choose someone else.
Consideration #3 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Analyze your data.
You will be able to analyze data after your blog has been online for month (maybe sooner). Even early results will give you an idea of where visitors are coming from, what they are looking for and how long visitors stay on your site. This can tell you if you are communicating effectively with your target audience.
Consideration #4 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Are you ready to monetize?
Most advertisers want more than warm fuzzies. They want to know that their ads are being seen. Like you, they want to connect with a target audience. Advertisers also want to know if you are connecting with your audience.
This is where analyzing your data plays a key role. If the numbers to your blog are low (or if your target audience is missing in action) it’s probably a good idea to wait to monetize.
I helped a friend of mine get started with her blog. It was getting some traffic but not much. She thought she was doing a good job but was not analyzing her data. I suggested that she add a stat counter that would provide solid information. She was stunned to get the results.
Her goal was to connect with other people who liked to knit. She also had cats. In every blog entry she talked about her cats. She talked about how they liked to play in the yarn, what she had to do to keep her cats away from her work and what the cats did.
Surprise! The data revealed that people were using cat related search terms to find her blog. She stopped writing about her cats and traffic from her target audience increased.
Consideration #5 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Can your online writer update regularly?
Posts don’t have to be made daily but they do have to be made regularly. If your readers expect articles to come out on Monday and Wednesday switching to Tuesday only can cost you readers – and traffic.
Consideration #6 Should 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Will your agency give your blogger enough time to do the job right?
Nonproft agencies should always select the option to accept or decline ads that are not relevant to their mission. Your blogger will need to manually approve or reject ads every time you get notice that an advertiser is interested. Emails have to be answered. Comments have to be followed up on. Timely updates need to be done.
A volunteer can possibly do these things for awhile. Ultimately, you will want to hire someone who can update and monitor your blog on schedule. This means allowing your blogger enough hours each week to do the job right. Deciding how many hours to allocate will depend on your budget and the experience level of your blogger.
Consideration #7 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Each ad should be considered on a case by case basis. Staff and boards of directors can rest easily knowing that blog advertisements can be approved or denied. I’ll have more on this in an upcoming article.
Consideration #8 Should a 501c3 Nonprofit Blog Monetize to Raise Funds?
Can the level of agency commitment be maintained?
Especially if it is monetized, blogging is not a 6 week proposition. By now you can see that it takes time and effort to build and maintain a blog. Agencies not providing a steady commitment will lose advertisers. If your agency decides to monetize it must remain committed. Once an advertiser is gone they are usually forever.
For the agencies that are committed, blog advertisements can be a steady source of undesignated revenue that your nonprofit may need.