You read the title right. Nonprofit features can be profitable for magazine and newspaper publishers. According to Todd Lemke, Publisher of Omaha Magazine, the key is getting nonprofit stakeholders excited about your concept—and engaging your readers with consistent, top-notch execution.
Selling Advertising to Nonprofits Is All About the FOMO
When it comes to selling advertising to nonprofit organizations, it’s all about the FOMO (fear of missing out). Per Todd, “If you get a few nonprofits into your publication, the others will follow...All of the sudden, they can find a budget. Not having a budget is often a translation to a lack of excitement.”
This excitement is the antidote to the normal issues that many ad sales reps face with selling to nonprofits. On the nonprofit side, there is often no budget—which provides no real starting point to make a sale. As a result, reps (understandably) focus on industries that sign contracts.
So, how do you build the excitement? It starts with a push. Todd’s sales team explains that this yearly issue is a way for nonprofits to tell the public who they are “in a way that’s efficient and well-formatted.” This efficiency translates to production, too. Each page is strictly formatted, meaning the assets are easy to gather and produce quickly and at scale.
Quick aside: Nonprofits do advertise throughout the year, but they typically budget around the one or two big fundraising events that bring in the majority of their donations per fiscal year. When reps do make these sales, Todd shares that his magazine offers a standard 15% ad rate discount for nonprofits.
Nonprofit Features Can Boost a Regular Issue
During a COVID year, Todd Lemke did nearly $60,000 in nonprofit sales for his annual Big Give issue. Between 55 and 60 nonprofits agreed to a page at just under $1000. Todd's normal full page cost is 75% more than this. But, he claims, the sub $1000 mark is just below the threshold for stakeholders to require board approval.
Right now, you may be wondering how the aforementioned $60,000 translates to a profit. It’s quite simple. The roughly 60 page nonprofit feature is an additional section that pays the print bill for Omaha’s much-loved “The Big Give” issue, which contains ads, editorial, and features. The nonprofit feature pages are templated, easily digestible, and help organizations get in front of readers’ eyes.
3 Profit Wins From Nonprofit Features
According to Todd, there are three major wins that come from running a recurring nonprofit feature like The Big Give:
- Increased nonprofit advertising revenue throughout the year. The nonprofits that see a boost for the relatively minimum spend from your feature issue are more likely to devote a portion of their ad budget to your magazine for their major fundraisers.
- Custom publishing opportunities. Nonprofits need custom publishing like any other business. Anniversary issues, new location openings, and yearly events are all on the table if you can pull off a successful feature issue.
- A one-up on ad agencies. Nonprofits who experience a seamless process with your staff will see you as a production house with capabilities far beyond what an ad agency can provide. If you’re thinking about introducing marketing agency services, this is a great gateway opportunity.
Make Nonprofit Advertising a Win-Win
In conclusion, a strong nonprofit feature can be a win-win for your community. Not only does it allow advertisers the ability to get in front of your audience at a fraction of your normal full-page rate, it also adds depth to your editorial and features.
Plus, you gain exposure with nonprofits that can pay off in the long run. Namely, you increase ad sales opportunities, build top-of-mind awareness for custom publishing, and create an introduction that can bring more of their marketing budgets to you.