Thursday, January 15, 2009

How a Non Profit Organization can earn money.

This is for a friend:

He said,"
It's safe to say that my customers are all interested in one topic:
how to raise money. Endowments are blown, budgets are slashed, large contributors are bankrupt or indicted.
"How can print help me raise more money, faster?"
So I said,
Use the web and events to locate your fans. Then innovate new stuff that you can sell them. And stop sending out so much direct mail! And printing too many because "the unit price is low."

The easiest things to innovate are Print products. Just off the top; printed facebooks of all graduates. A special paperback edition for $x and the extra special Class of 'xx Hardcover for $x+y, of an essay or two from their favorite professor, either now or back in the day.

Hint: This will work best if the stuff is tied to a news cycle. Probably health, education and e-government are going to be riding the news cycle for the next couple of years.

Watch out: The value is created by Time. Too late just won't work. Sorry, if it's normal school Time or normal non-profit Time or normal business Time, it's not worth doing. To be clear, this doesn't mean content has to be done fast. Just that content has to be ready to go, at the right Time. See the last couple of day's posts to see what I'm trying to get across in tyhe context of newsPapers.

Or in a list format:
1. Develop your fan base through events and the web.
2. Once you have a fan base, figure out stuff they would willingly buy.
3. Figure out the best way to make the stuff.
4. Use your website to advertise the stuff to your fans.
5. Use pay pal or credit cards to collect the money and outsource the fulfillment, so there is no overhead.
How to get from here to there. Different strokes for different folks. But a good bet is try some really smart Print person. The trick is that you never know where you'll find them. Try to get their attention. The good ones will answer the phone or the email. If they don't you probably don't want to get invovled with them in the first place.

Or consider getting in touch with your local newspaper. They are in disarry. Maybe you could work out a deal where you get some money, the local newspaper makes some money, and everybody gets to enhance their brands.

That will get more people to both websites. And then the cycle repeats and repeats.

To our printer viewers:
Why not make a little time to talk the non profits you work for. Tell them about POD books and posters. My bet is that they don't know that you can do them. By the way here's the email you might want to send,

Subject line: We have some new ideas to help you earn money
Dear x,
We've come up with some interesting new Print applications and approaches that might work for you. Let me know if you have 15 minutes for me to describe what we're doing. I would like to get your feedback to see if we are on the right track."

Then if you are lucky enough that they reach out to you, respond within 10 minutes. Any more and you blew it. Then set up the meeting in that exchange. No "let me get back to you. " After 15 minutes - on the clock - excuse yourself and say you have to leave. If they don't respond, don't badger. They are probably just too busy, right now. When it's time, they'll get back to you. Or not. If not. Just go on to the next without wasting any time.

To our designer viewers:
Try to get the attention of any printer you know. I know it's highly unlikely. Usually when a Printer looks at a Designer they see either trouble or $$$$$$. Anyway, if you do get some focus, make the pitch that you can design innovative appropriate Print products at a reasonable cost, very, very quickly. He/she probably won't get it, but it's worth trying. Or look for another Printer.

To our newspaper publisher viewers:
If you have a plant and some extra capacity between issues, make believe you are a commercial printer. (see above) If that sounds too hard, hire some of the great Print salespeople who are all stressed out about the End of Print. Good people who are used to working on commission. What do you have to lose?

Besides you can probably do the ad sale and the printed collateral sale at the same time. Less commission on each, but better overall total $$. Don't have a sheet fed plant? Not to worry. There is a deep network of printers for the trade only. I figure that newspapers are in the trade.
Or if this is not the time to hire anybody, call a couple of the printers in your area. If they don't get back to you for a while, don't worry, that's just the way it is. If you do succeed in getting in touch, let their sales people sell your ads for a normal commission from you sell printing for a normal commission from their company.

Remember - network or stagnate. There is no alternative.


  1. It kind of makes sense. I don't exactly get what you are referring to by "Time."

  2. Think of the book version of the 9/11 commission. Published a couple of weeks later? Nothing.

    Or any of the quickie celebrity books? So, when the coming fight is coming about Health care it's going to be on everyone's mind. So...if I were a school and had some really smart people who know something about health care, I would have the book ready, and offered on the College website the day after the hearing.

    I think that can help clarify what I mean by saying that events in time create value for cultural products. Or "you can make money from Hula Hoops."

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