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Melissa Summers, Bryce Craft, Nelle Sacknoff, Shauna Kelly, Christa Thoeresz May 13th, 2011
Executive Summary In this report, we have provided a variety of potential opportunities for Aslan Media to monetize their mission, generate revenue, and become a financially sustainable organization. Each chapter contains a separate focus, beginning with internal changes that are essential to the viability of the proceeding recommendations. The chapters thereafter deal with different forms of partnerships and the opportunities that would arise from such collaboration. The recommendations outlined in these chapters include: university partnerships, corporate partnerships, grants, advertisements, events and fundraisers, and ways to build a constituency.
Recommendations: We have detailed our recommendations in the paper and have provided an initial timeline below that prioritizes opportunities based on whether they are short-term, mid-term, or long-term to help you evaluate the cost and benefits internally when making your project management plan for next steps. Short-term opportunities may be immediately acted upon and executed with current resources as a low hanging fruit, while mid- and long-term opportunities might require further preparation and resources, and will take longer to implement.
We have also categorized opportunities according to the potential return on investment (ROI), as well as the required resources needed in order to create the partnership, take advantage of the opportunity, or carry out the activity. The anticipated ROI takes into consideration more than simple revenue generation, and also weighs how
well an opportunity maps to AM’s mission and goals. Similarly, the required resource investment includes time, manpower, relationships leveraged, and other factors in addition to the financial investment. Opportunities are plotted on the chart below and have also been color coded within the chapters to correspond to one of these four quadrants.
When financing a nonprofit, and particularly monetizing a website, it is critical to have multiple income streams. The combination of ways to make money and become financially sustainable is different for every organization, and it will take time to build a foundation and solid base of revenue generation. (The appendix contains a chart demonstrating a revenue generation model that utilizes a wide variety of income streams.) This report is intended to serve as a tool for AM to utilize in determining which revenue generating model best serves the organization. With patience and discipline, a strategy, and a business mindset the money will come.
Table of Contents I. II. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………... Internal Focus …………………………………………………………………………………… a. Create A Business Plan ………………………………………………………… b. Website Suggestions …………………………………………………………………. c. Daily Conversation Starter ………………………………………………………… d. Board of Directors ………………………………………………………….……… e. Leveraging Resources …………………………………………………………….…… III. University Partnerships …………………………………………………………….…… a. Internship & Fellowship Opportunities ………………………………………. b. Special Student User Features ………………………………………………………… c. Aslan Media Club Chapters ………………………………………………………… d. Create Research Database ………………………………………………………… IV. Corporate Partnerships …………………………………………………………….…… a. Journalism-based Corporations ……………………………………………….. b. Strategy …………………………………………………………………………. c. Other Notes …………………………………………………………………………. V. Grants ………………………………………………………………………………………….… a. Key Reminders ……………………………………………………………….… b. Initial Steps ……………………………………………………………………….…. c. Relevant Foundation List ………………………………………………………... VI. Advertising ………………………………………………………………………………….. a. PPC ………………………………………………………………………………….. b. CPM ………………………………………………………………………………….. c. Direct Banner …………………………………………………………………………. d. Affiliate Marketing …………………………………………………………………. e. Job Board …………………………………………………………………………. VII. Fundraisers and Events …………………………………………………………………. a. Macro Events: Hosted by AM ……………………………………………….. b. Micro: Hosted by local supporters ……………………………………………….. VIII. Building a Constituency …………………………………………………………………. a. Targeted Planned Giving ………………………………………………………… b. Start a Cause on Facebook ………………………………………………………… c. Ebay Giving Works ………………………………………………………………… IX. Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………….. X. Appendix ………………………………………………………………………………….. a. Toolkit: Links to Relevant Sites ……………………………………………….. b. Exhaustive list: Including Additional iIdeas from the MIIS Brainstorm ……. c. Examples of multiple revenue streams chart ………………………………………. 5 6 6 8 9 10 13 14 14 16 17 18 20 20 21 22 23 23 24 25 30 30 31 32 33 34 35 35 36 38 38 40 40 42 43 43 49 50
Introduction Five students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies conducted the following report for Aslan Media as part of a graduate class in social entrepreneurship. The primary goal of the study was to identify ways in which Aslan Media (AM) can generate sustainable revenue streams that will allow it to expand its reach and to more effectively carry out its mission. Roshi Pejhan from Aslan Media and Fredric Kropp from the Monterey Institute supervised the study.
This report details the findings of this study and provides a variety of opportunities for AM to monetize its activities in support of its mission, generate revenue, and become a financially sustainable organization. Each chapter contains a separate focus, beginning with important internal changes that will make the other recommendations possible. The subsequent chapters address different forms of partnerships and potential opportunities that would arise from such collaboration. All of the recommended opportunities in these chapters require establishing partnerships with other organizations, leveraging all resources currently at hand (including Reza’s fame), and calling upon the most persuasive and powerful members of Reza’s network for support.
Foremost among our recommendations is that AM continues its current efforts to establish 501c3 status and upgrade the structure and team of the current Board of Directors. We determined that the nonprofit business model is best suited to the opportunities that promise the greatest financial return for AM. Additionally, the viability of many recommendations in this report is contingent upon the organization achieving 501c3 status. We also feel it is critical (and imperative as a 501c3) that AM establish a more robust, diverse and sustainable Board of Directors to oversee various projects, and to provide a variety of expertise and additional resources to the organization. These two steps will increase the viability and potential ROI of all partnerships and opportunities detailed in this report.
Chapter 1: Internal Focus This section discusses the internal structure and changes in the organization that will help AM generate revenue. We suggest creating a business model and reviewing it every six to nine months, making a few website changes, adding a “Daily Conversation Starter” to the site, working strategically with your resources, and establishing a solid board with a diverse group of intelligent, supportive people.
a. Create A Business Plan ●Building upon, refining, and revisiting the business plan you have created as often as every six months will help to establish a clear, explicitly stated vision and goals for all management, staff and volunteers to work towards. A plan will also help to account for all available resources and assets, and illuminate the feasibility of certain options through financial consideration. Finally, having a clear plan will help to attract donors and let potential investors know that you are serious by mapping out your mission, and demonstrating clear rationale for your plans, strategy, and management perspective. At a minimum, the basic plan suggested should include the following elements to show you where you add value, how you use your resources, and how to capture more financial return: ○A mission statement: What purpose was AM created for? ○A value proposition: What does AM offer to its customers? ○Identification of key partners: What partners help AM accomplish its mission? ○Assessment of key resources: What resources and assets are at your disposal? ○Identification of key activities: What actions must AM do to reach its goals? ○Assessment of customer relationships: How does AM interact with customers? ○Distribution channels: Through what avenues does AM provide its services? ○Customer segments: Who is your audience? Who do you intend to serve? ○Cost structure analysis: Where does the money go? ○Identification of revenue streams: Where does the money come from? ○Marketing Plan: How will you attract a larger audience and potential consumers?
●Note 1: Trying to map your goals out in this plan will reveal the gaps that will help guide your prioritization process as you evaluate our recommendations and determine next steps. This form of a business plan does not need to be complex, but will be helpful to more clearly know where you stand. It entails answering these key questions and defining a clearly stated mission, vision and organizational goals for everyone in your organization to align themselves to and to communicate to your audience more clearly. ●Note 2: A marketing plan in itself can be very complex and requires knowledge of the industry, audience and trends. We recommend that someone with industry marketing skills be included on the Board of Directors to enhance this area in your organization and provide high-level advisory support and guidance. If someone on the current team has marketing skills, they should be leveraged and assigned tasks to create a more structured marketing plan for AM. ●Note 3: Below is an example of a basic business model canvas, and you can read more about it from Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas, as well as from Business Model Generation.
b. Website Suggestions ●Your website is sharp and attractive, yet there minor changes that could be made that we think will enhance the clarification of your messaging, visual branding, and the overall user engagement experience to better match AM’s brand personality and mission: ○Include a Tagline: “Making news (in the Middle East) a conversation” for example. This can go next to the logo in the blank space at the top of the site and will help readers (particularly first time readers) understand where they are and what you want them to do on the site. This clarifies your message to your audience. ○A Smiling Picture of Reza: Reza’s picture is all the way at the bottom of the site, yet he is the face of the organization - and he has a great smile! It is inviting, kind, and disarming, which is a great way to bring and keep people at your site. Having an engaging picture of Reza, and making clear his role in the organization with his title in a small caption, helps to create a clear visual brand for the site, and parallels the message AM attempts to dissipate to provide objective views and cultural celebration among the crisis in the Middle East. This smiling, warm and engaging photo maps better to the mission as AM’s goal is to disarm and interrupt unfriendly Middle Eastern perspectives and conversation on the topic. Educating a new generation of youth is a happy and positive goal to welcome youth into this movement. A smiling and inviting leader who is visible at first glance at the site will speak volumes to both old and new supporters. ○Boomgen: Can it have a tagline to help people understand what it is and how it relates to AM without clicking? Or is it an ad for the site? Its purpose is a bit confusing. The placement of small elements such as the Boomgen logo affect the clarity of the site’s message, thus integration should be carefully considered when determining where and if this item, or any other items, should be included on the site. ○Polls: Polls are very helpful with targeting and can give you insight into what the customer wants. You could poll your audience about what they want to see and what footage they are most interested in – maybe they expect to see a job board for jobs related to the Middle East? This improves the user experience and engages them in the development of the site.
○Highlight Reza: Reza-related opportunities need to be more prominent: buying his book, links to how people can attend his speaking events, links to how people can throw a fundraiser with Reza there to speak, etc. Are there potential opportunities for him to consult? His voice, reputation, and influence are all very valuable, yet it takes effort to even know who he is on the current site. This could be its own page on the site – a warm, informational, but also educational area to highlight Reza as the founder and leader of AM, but also as a unique and dedicated educator and inspirational writer and speaker. This could be shown and highlighted in this section through anecdotes that could change, slidesharing of lectures, clips of videos from presentations, speaking engagements, and/or reviews of his book to allow people to get the latest information, comment, engage, and to also provide an informational and clear place on the Website that informs new users who he is and the opportunity to get to know him better.
c. Daily Conversation Starter ●What it is: A brief media piece that starts the conversation for the day. The piece may be in video or other multimedia form, presented by Reza or other content contributors. The piece should present an issue for the daily discussion. ●How to implement: Prepare clips for daily posting in the form of a brief news report. It could be a simple but welcoming introduction for many to respond to, interact with, and be informed by. It might be an issue or question similar to something you might use to kick off a debate or initiate a discussion in class at UC Irvine. You could streamline the front page and make a clear space for the daily conversation to encourage participation. Interns and other contributors could all be tasked with commenting on the issue to initiate a discussion and further engage their personal networks and other users. Have Reza present the daily report to create a following of supporters and fans. Use his fame to make his fans fans of the site. ●Map to mission: It brings people together and will drive a diverse audience to the similar objective of actively engaging in the communication of thought provoking, analytical views and discussions on news and current events that AM wants to share.
●Rationale: This gives users a reason to visit the site daily, even if briefly, and demonstrates exactly how they are expected to interact with the content – to comment on it. A brief daily report would set Aslan Media apart from other user-focused news media sites, such as Huffington Post and Salon. Reza has fans, supporters, influence and fame - these things can all be utilized to bring eyes to the site and encourage people to be regular visitors. ●Note 1: While Reza is the founder of Aslan Media, it does not currently feature any obvious content of his own creation. Having Reza contribute daily would bring his fans to the site, just to see him, and lends a degree of legitimacy to the rest of the content. ●Note 2: The daily media piece could be sponsored to generate additional revenue. There is a great opportunity here for the corporate sponsor recommendations to fold into this idea and sponsor or offer guest speakers and experts to participate in the daily media piece.
d. Establish a Board of Directors ●What it is: Build a board of directors who will provide oversight, contribute strategic input, and act as a sounding board to keep projects on track. They are also your strongest supporters, both emotionally and financially, and will also connect you to more support. ●How to implement: Bring together interested parties among Reza’s network who believe in the mission and can provide financial or human resources, and/or connections. ●Map to mission: Reza has a strong network of powerful supporters who may only need to be asked to participate on such a board. This is a way that allows supporters of the Middle East and those supporting the next generation to similarly support your mission in a new way. ●Rationale: A board is critical to a nonprofit, and is required when securing a 501c3. In addition to providing resources, a board could be tasked with investigating the viability of, and laying the groundwork for revenue-generating activities. A board could investigate opportunities, generate interest in current endeavors, and facilitate in partnership creation. The board could provide financial commitment and advisory to AM, and “ex-officio” board members (mature youth members or young adults) would provide administrative and informational support to strategic planning and a direct connection from board to staff.
●Note 1: Organizations that support youth sometimes have “ex-officios,” to provide insight, to stay in tuned to the user population, and to show they have a representative board. “Ex-officios” are unofficial board members who are part of your target market/user population. Though they would not officially be part of the board, they would provide crucial support and serve as a way to engage the youth generation. “Exofficios” could be a direct line to the user population, provide publicity for events and the site, serve as recruiters for university partnerships and interns/fellows, and provide a connection to the current needs and motivations of the target users and contributors to AM. “Ex-officios” would be carefully vetted and trustworthy and would be a perfect way of supporting your mission by role modeling and “showing” its supporters it is committed to youth engagement, even beginning with your leadership staff – the board. ●Note 2: A board of directors should include people of diverse professional backgrounds, networks, and with a variety of skills. Ideally, a board will be comprised of people who possess skills, resources and connections the rest of the management team needs. Examples of recommended professions and skills include: ○Accountant/Banker ○Lawyer, legal expert ○Foundations Guru ○Media Mogul ○Marketing Manager ○Poverty unburdened friends ○PR Supervisor ○Networker/Connector ○Friends with important and persuasive connects they are willing to leverage ○Young influential and engaged member of target user population ● Board Considerations/Expectations For Financial Support: ○ Boards in for-profit ventures and some nonprofits expect to be paid. It is likely that people on your board would do it without pay and could be a potential source of donations. This is recommended to establish at the onset to determine expectations and donor giving obligations.
However, you must provide indemnity insurance and expenses associated with attending board meetings. Board members can be sued for activities of the corporation and sophisticated members would not consider being a part of the board without the insurance. (Note: this differs for members of a Board of Advisors who typically are not subject to lawsuits.) It is common courtesy to pay for members’ travel expenses associated with attending a board meeting. Most likely, you will make this back many times through the board member’s connections. ○ Identify internal support from within the board, the supporters, people that work for Reza who are a match and for whom support would be mutually beneficial. ○ ○ Get these people involved and committed to the expectations management has of them. Tap into the 10-15% philanthropy expectations. If large donations aren’t possible, an annual donor commitment amount should be agreed upon, as grant committees review board activity and giving, and decisions are often based upon demonstrated board participation. ● Fundraising-Specific Board Priorities: The board should have specific priorities & responsibilities –
namely the priority of leading and committing to fundraising. The following are several suggested specific board priorities to keep in mind when reorganizing and establishing a more viable and sustainable board: The first priority in this area is to assert a strategic committee that is part of the board that can help lead fundraising. Criteria and priorities for this are suggested as: ○ First, select the (overall) Board Fundraising Campaign Director who will lead, drive and manage fundraising efforts from a higher level ○ Set responsibilities/expectations, set indicators, success factors, set the organizational chart with roles/responsibilities, set overall board solicitation and responsibilities, set overall code of conduct and expectations for board structure and planned giving to succeed. ● Fundraising-Specific Board Considerations and Best Practices: The following are some general
suggested actions for how AM treats board members for large, individual or community given gifts. When board giving is made—no matter the amount—AM should treat these gifts from the board the same, if not more special than other large donors. For large donor gifts, the following are suggestions and guidelines for how a board member is encouraged to respond to donors:
The Executive Director and/or Development Director should schedule a meeting with the donor as
soon as possible to personally thank them, establish a relationship and confirm the gift. 2. Once the donor gift is confirmed, mail a letter from your CEO welcoming the person to the
organization with copies to the Executive Director and the Development Director. 3. A follow up meeting should be scheduled to thank the donor again and express appreciation either
in-person or by phone to ensure an open invitation for continual future discussions about donor giving 4. The board member (i.e. the large donor in this case) should receive an invitation to the next big
fundraising event, be listed in the Annual Report as a AM board member, and be added to the Website or somewhere as determined by AM for recognition display – this could also be a story or post on the blog.
e. Leveraging Resources ●As a group, you are tapped into countless resources: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Gates are just a few examples of your high level connections. Reza is highly sought-after and respected, and people love to help people they admire and respect. In addition, the normal trajectory of entrepreneurship is to leverage personal resources (friends and family) for advice and money. Everyone does it. Everyone expects it. If Reza does not feel comfortable asking his friends for money it is still advisable that he tell them his plans and ask them to introduce him to people who might want to donate, or who have a connection to a foundation or interesting partner. Leveraging relationships is key. ●In addition, over time as a nonprofit AM will have to rely largely on individual donors for funding. As previously discussed, cultivating donors is a very long-term process, which starts with friends and family (the very platform Profounder is based on this concept), and this starts on day one of most ventures. It is impressive, admirable, and atypical (as an entrepreneur) for Reza to be as modest as he is. It makes him even more appealing in some ways, but also could prevent him from reaching the kind of success he is very capable of. There’s nothing to say that Reza has to stop “donating” toward AM’s cause, but the ability to fund the enterprise with multiple revenue streams is directly related to AM’s ability to achieve its mission and the goals it aspires to reach.
Chapter 2: University Partnerships University partnerships provide an opportunity to get more students, educators and academic administrators actively involved with Aslan Media, all of which can decrease overhead costs, build networks, and offer a potential source of revenue. These partnerships have the potential of generating considerable revenue, while also spreading awareness and bringing eyes to the site. This approach would significantly increase Aslan Media’s potential to impact an entire generation of students by incorporating its content and perspective into school curriculum and educational experiences, and encouraging generational sustainability while delivering on its mission to create long-term impact on youth. As you know, the Monterey Institute is in the process of establishing a relationship with Reza, both as an adjunct professor and for extension education, where both parties will benefit. Reza’s name will generate interest among universities and students alike, and is a strong selling point that should be leveraged. The following are other specific programs designed to establish university partnerships.
a. University Sponsored Internship/Fellows Opportunities • What it is: Partnerships with schools that provide opportunities for students to actively participate in AM activities in the form of contributing content and performing administrative tasks. Interns or Fellows could receive credit from their universities for their activities. • How to implement: Contact appropriate departments within universities that have Mideast Studies and/or Journalism programs to offer internship opportunities to attending students. Contact professors directly to let them know that this opportunity is available to their students and promote AM as a media resource that can be incorporated into coursework. Market and promote opportunities to students directly, so that they will seek out the internships even if their school is unaware of their existence. To monetize this plan, charge institutional fees to the students, which could be included as part of their student program fees if an official partnership was established, and therefore this could be covered by financial aid for eligible students. If fees could not be paid for through student fees, there might be opportunity for student club funding reimbursement to pay user fees. If universities
can be persuaded to offer credit for internships, student employment will be partially subsidized by the government, leaving AM to cover only 25% of the wages. • Map to mission: Change only takes one person. Once several students begin AM undergraduate internships or graduate fellowships, for example, the interest to engage in AM will spread. Also, this plan further promotes AM’s mission as it will engage and empower youth, while challenging and keeping them connected. Running this through a University shows that AM puts education first, which is in line with its branding and mission to educate youth on Middle Eastern issues and culture. • Rationale: This generates revenue from university programs that provide beyond the classroom learning, rather than from charging site users. This will further mobilize youth by rewarding them not with money, but with education. This will generate more involvement among the general student audience, provide human resources for administrative tasks, generate awareness and credibility in the higher education field, and provide more writers and content contributors. This is the easiest aspect of university partnerships to establish because it does not require any financial investment, only networking, spreading awareness and communicating with university faculty and administration. • Note 1: Reza’s name and image carry a lot of weight in the academic community and can be used as an attraction for students and universities. A free annual speaking engagement could be offered as part of this partnership. • Note 2: Programs such as this can help to establish longer-term support bases by creating the infrastructure for increased resource support, in-kind donations, potential grants, and large donations. Partnerships with universities take time to establish and generate considerable financial support, but pave the way for long-term giving plans that build progressively over time. • Note 3: In addition, universities and their libraries and events will also help AM stay on the pulse about the latest findings, trends, overall research and expert commentary in the Middle East through increased access to academic resources in diverse areas and from greater perspectives. This could open doors to increased networks and resources, but also provide differentiated content for its enewsletter and online site as faculty may be invited to contribute content. Equally beneficial, AM could have increased access to university events and conferences which can boost AM’s recognition
through increased participation. Through building this presence and making more university contacts, AM could also further influence lectures and debates in the classroom.
b. Special Student/Educator User Features • What it is: Paid membership for access to special student and/or educator user features that would provide a source of revenue. Features could include discussion boards and space for teachers to compile materials that could be used in courses. Students from different universities could participate in larger discussions about current issues, and even conduct real-time online debates or hold teleconferences domestically and/or globally including various universities at one time. • How to implement: Create a network of universities where students would participate to generate a larger pool of users, thereby allowing few users at one school to benefit from and interact with the larger network. Assign a team of staff or volunteers to write coding for new features and services. Consider initial release (free of charge) to a focus group that would provide feedback and simultaneously serve as marketers in their respective schools. • Map to mission: Connecting more universities to create a larger network, greater appeal and greater awareness through longer-term educational initiatives that encourage students to be a part of the conversation. This gives students opportunities to be actively involved in Middle East events and education, rather than just reading and reporting on events. Creating a unique student user educational resource like this maps to AM’s mission directly through youth, but can be shared beyond with educators and professionals/practitioners in the field as well. With the added component of additional languages in this user feature, this further builds on AM’s mission to expand the conversation to larger audiences among the Middle Eastern Diaspora community around the globe. • Rationale: This would lead to the site being used for research and as a go-to source for information on the Middle East among university students with an interest in the area and potential interest in internship opportunities. • Note 1: Schools are always looking for a platform to advertise themselves to potential students. On the student user pages, advertising spaces could be sold to undergraduate and graduate schools if
Aslan Media can prove that they have a robust audience of student users. Other potential opportunities for advertisers here might be to have study, volunteer, and exchange programs that send participants abroad to the Middle East. • Note 2: An internship team that is interested in and/or has background in project management and Translation Localization Management (TLM) could also review, translate and “localize” this site for educational practicum purposes—potentially in Arabic, French and maybe Spanish. Implementing it this way will offer increased educational lesson plans through the diverse language offerings such as World Studies, History, Language, ESL, English, Sociology, etc….
c. Aslan Media Club Chapters (Net Impact Model) • What it is: Chapters of Aslan Media clubs at different schools that pay a small fee for limited membership, which includes access to AM resources and special student services. Membership would provide access and connections to additional internship and job opportunities for students. This suggestion is modeled after the system used by Net Impact to create a network of socially conscious and entrepreneurial students at universities all over the country. • How to implement: Contact Student Affairs departments at schools and universities. If possible, recruit club leaders in specific schools. Create brochures with club and membership information to be handed out at club events. Create a list of guidelines or suggested activities to create continuity between chapters and mobilize the club members to action. • Map to mission: Provide services students will be willing to pay for, and leverage the association with Reza to generate demand and interest. This maps to AM’s mission because it can build an educational and professional community through young adults to increase dialogue about the Middle East on and offline. This could further support the mission through default marketing as these clubs would serve as AM brand ambassadors at their school. In addition to running their own campus club events, these clubs could tie into and be an integral part of your micro events strategy, as will be detailed later, for extra manpower and PR assistance.
Rationale: This spreads awareness and motivates youth to take action, helping them to gain valuable experience and skills while generating revenue for AM. This helps take AM a step further towards being an organization that actively encourages social change through action, awareness and mentoring youth.
Note 1: Could be extended to private schools to begin education and activity in a wider audience. Note 2: Members could be tasked with leadership over a youth campaign, allowing them to cultivate skills and enhance their resumes while consequently helping to market the website. Members of these clubs could also participate in micro-fundraising events detailed in later chapters.
Note 3: Other services that could be offered to members may be access to a job board where students can pursue career opportunities. (More information on how to include a job board on your site can be found on page in the advertising chapter).
Note 4: A guest writers campaign and/or a contest for editorial writing could be established for chapters and connected to advertising, allowing advertising revenues to contribute to the contest funds. This small pay incentive is a very cost-effective way to publicize content.
d. Create Research Database • What it is: Create a database where content is archived and may be searched for research purposes. Use of this feature would be subscription-based and sold to educational institutions. • How to implement: Archive content from the website, and consolidate other related articles and media into a searchable database. Write executive summaries for lengthy articles to make the search process more efficient. Market service to universities. • Map to mission: This is another opportunity to motivate and mobilize an educational motivation around Middle Eastern topics and further drive people to the site. Make sure to specialize this research database from other similar regional area and Diaspora initiatives. Have a clear value statement to differentiate its offerings from competitors. Why is this different enough for people to pay to use it? Why wouldn’t universities just continue to use the research databases they have been using? Market the database as the go-to source for information on the Middle East.
Rationale: Universities pay considerable sums to provide their students access to quality research databases. Creation of this database would go even further to establish AM as a credible and legitimate source of analyses on issues and information about the Middle East. Material can also be used for social media, marketing initiatives and messages through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as other various “localized” region-specific social media sites around the globe (such as Orkut in Latin America or the European or Asian social media site alternatives to Facebook).
Note 1: Due to the high number of research databases currently available, AM would have to offer something special and unique that would motivate schools to pay for their service over those offered by others. AM could leverage its particular audience and focus as a database for only Middle East related content. Another unique aspect of the database could be the availability of video, audio and other digital media content in addition to written papers and articles that provide in depth analyses of issues and specialized cultural learning opportunities through diverse mediums and sources.
Chapter 3: Corporate Partnerships There are numerous ways that nonprofits and social change enterprises partner with corporations, and many are not an exchange of funds but rather social capital, network expansion, mutual information exchange, and other means of supporting the mission. Short-term partnerships and interactions with corporations beyond fiscal support can lead to strategic partnerships. These strategic partnerships are relationships in which the corporation supports long-term goals of the nonprofit by providing a corporate sponsorship, which could include funds, marketing, and long-term, cohesive, and mission driven collaboration, and even advisory assistance in strategic planning. Often times, a strategic partnership with a nonprofit can provide a stronger brand value improvement to the corporation through this type of corporate social responsibility initiative. Overall, it is suggested that AM focus on media partnerships as well as general corporate sponsors who share common interests and values in their missions. The following section details different types of recommended partnerships and the considerations and implications to each commitment.
a. Types of Partnerships • Media Partnerships: Target media partners such as CNN with the potential for an exchange between journalists from each respective organization through trainings, discussions, and best practices for increasing and retaining viewers. AM has young, highly educated, and talented contributors who have fresh perspectives. Pairing AM contributors with individuals doing related research at institutes or universities is an appealing package for larger media operations. o Watch for possible reinstatement of Prior Activities of the New York Times Foundation. “In 2009, the Foundation suspended two activities. One was a program in which The Times Company matched gifts by employees and retirees to qualifying nonprofit institutions. The other was a program of grants to domestic organizations in journalism, education, culture, environment and service.” http://www.nytco.com/company/foundation/index.html o Wikimedia has received funding from Google Inc. http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Home
Emphasize that civic education is a primary factor in the purpose of AM. Beyond exploring corporations in the journalism sector, also consider corporations who want to market themselves as valuing peace education, or other areas of education, such as, PTA National Headquarters. To contact: Ann Huynh, 312.670.6782 ext. 395, http://www.pta.org/
Shared-Interest Corporate Sponsors: Identify and contact other corporations in addition to Best Buy that would be corporate sponsors to appeal to and expand upon their Islamic customer base. Also contact corporations that are oriented to Islamic customers, for example Muslim American publishing and print companies, and work with and off of the religious and cultural data that it is an Islamic tradition to give a certain amount of your time and salary to philanthropy. o o Form a strategic alliance with a media or technology company Target companies in the Middle East such as Emirates Airlines (the link below shares previous donations to your similar area of interest arts and culture). To Contact: http://www.emirates.com/us/english/about/sponsorships/sponsorships.aspx
b. Strategy • Continuously ask how an association with any given company will impact AM, and it is suggested to be prepared with careful language to turn down offers from organizations/corporations with whom you do not wish to be associated, but would like to keep the door open for future indirect leads and/or partnerships. This ensures brand openness to all potential audiences. • Ensure Partnership Agreements / Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are used when securing a partnership to ensure legal and well-documented steps are taken. It is recommend that you outline a timeframe and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the “corporate scholarship” partnerships. • Allow the partner to provide unimposing ideas and suggestions so they feel integrated and emotionally invested in the organization and the mission. Include frequent dialogue/communication to keep both partners abreast of activities, initiatives, planning, and funding, so neither is out of touch. With a trusted, high performing intern, there is an opportunity here to assign
an intern staff member to support this to keep your constituency in touch and informed. It would also provide a great learning opportunity for business development, project management and client relation support.
c. Other Notes • Build capacity to negotiate business partnerships: Corporations want to see that an organization is highly capable of effectively managing donations, both cash and in-kind. Many nonprofits are hiring from the business sector. Make it clear that you understand the communication that needs to happen with a corporation who is providing ongoing funding. Familiarize yourself with their fiscal year. Knowing the timing on their fiscal commitments and needs—when the timing of disbursement of funds is anticipated —will make the process easier for potential and current corporate sponsors. This type of professionalism will also encourage higher levels of financial donations in the future, knowing that AM makes it easy for them to give and support. Making the negotiation conversation, benefits, and potential next steps clearer will not only improve current partnerships, but also opens doors to additional leads and potential partnerships. Communication can be frequent (but not overwhelming) so that the donor does not feel disconnected from your initiatives. Significant donors generally want to be a part of the decision-making and strategizing aspect of a nonprofit, or at least to be heard. The more involvement sponsors have, the more they share the interest in accomplishing objectives. Ensure there is a relationship that allows for contributions of ideas in addition to funds. • Register with credible sites where corporations look for potential nonprofit partners: For example, Guidestar International is one example, all accredited nonprofits are listed on this site – it increases awareness, credibility and accessibility. Charity Navigator is another way to provide transparency in budget allocation, audits, tax forms, and budget projection, which would be one of the places corporations would look to check up on AM and essential for potential partners to be able to easily find. • For More Information: Please go to http://www2.guidestar.org.
Chapter 4: Grants Grants are a critical way to raise money for any nonprofit organization, however, on average, less than 25% of a given organization’s budget comes from grants and over 75% comes from individuals. The following section contains information on some foundations whose goals align with AM. The application process begins after determining a potential match and researching specific application requirements. This process entails sending an initial Letter of Interest (LOI) or a phone call to the office of the foundation acting as an introduction, explaining: who you are, what you do, and how you plan to use the money.
a. Key Tips – Short to Long Term Planning & Best Practices • As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Foundation Center will be extremely helpful to AM regarding grants. Gaining access to the foundationcenter.org site is the first and key step to locating potential grant matches. This is an excellent source for locating groups that provide funding and it is very easy to use. Though it costs money to join, it is worth it, and AM might be able to use the password access from their current nonprofit partner, or MIIS in the meantime, until it is possible to have an account of their own. Know that donors also look at this site for donor giving searches so they could also find AM on here as further publicity and accountability as an additional benefit. • • Utilize personal contacts and networks Key steps for submitting a strong Letter of Intent (LOI) – This letter is to be sent to a grant foundation before applying for a specific grant: o o o Answer all questions Keep it simple – Include all material in the order it was listed in the request Follow all directions (If the request states “do not staple material,” then, do not staple the paperwork). To help filter through high numbers of applicants, grant reviewers discard all applications that do not fully comply with the stated directions. • Even if foundations say they are not accepting applications, it is still recommended to send a LOI, call them, or use personal contacts to introduce AM. The key is to get in front of them and make them aware
of AM’s positive social endeavor and unique mission. Not all organizations are invited to submit proposals for grants, in many cases, personal contacts may be the best method of even gaining access to the grant proposal at all.
b. Initial Steps to Begin in the Short Term Google Grants http://www.google.com/grants/new/index.html • Google Grants is a part of the Google for Nonprofits program. Google is currently trying to push their nonprofit program to applicable users, (this includes the Google Grants and YouTube programs, which will be detailed below), so being an early adopter could certainly have its advantages. First, apply to be a qualified 501c3 accredited by Google for Nonprofits organization on this site here: https://google-fornonprofits.appspot.com/application. Once approved, AM could gain access to a variety of different product offerings and services such as Google Grants. Once accepted into the program you will be able to enroll into Google Grants and start using your free advertising service. • One benefit to Google Grants is that Google gives $10k per month in AdWords grants to qualified 501c3s. Nonprofits can use the grants for fundraising, acquisition, advocacy campaigns, events and education campaigns. “One of our most successful AdWords campaigns resulted in an infusion of about 9000 donations and generated nearly $1 million in online contributions — which for us was huge” (Thomas Tighe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Direct Relief International). • Additional benefits to Google Grants are being able to utilize the Google brand in many ways for marketing and PR – being able to say you are part of this Google-branded special network of nonprofit grantees to AM’s donors and supporters will be a large advantage with no cost to apply. Additional resources included in membership will help AM to: o o o Reach donors, improve operations (through an upgraded google applications account) Raise awareness about your cause and organization through advertising Improve communications and partnership-building through google nonprofit resources
Includes access to a multitude of other products. If you are a member of NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network – http://www.nten.org/) you get expedited Google grant application processing. It would be beneficial to be part of the NTEN anyway, and it does take a while to process the Google for Nonprofits application, so be sure to have an intern start this process as soon as your 501c3 is secured. In the meantime while waiting for your official status, encouraging your current nonprofit partner to join might be advantageous as well.
YouTube Nonprofit Program http://www.youtube.com/nonprofits • Being accepted into the overall Google for nonprofits program will be enough to join this YouTube program. Once accepted, it offers special channels and resources to qualified nonprofits at no charge. It includes: ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button Listing on the Nonprofit channels and the Nonprofit videos pages Ability to add a Call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns Posting a video opportunity on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform to find a skilled YouTube user to create a video for AM’s cause. ○ Other benefits include being part of a network to advance potential partnerships, promotional opportunities, and access to a Google group with other nonprofit organizations to communicate with additional potential supporters or partners.
c. Foundations Relevant to AM The following is a list of potential foundations that are relevant to AM. As stated previously, it may be necessary to send an initial LOI, e-mail or make a phone call introducing AM before starting the grant proposal process. Sending a LOI is also a great way to increase awareness in the short term about AM and its mission, even if you do not intend to apply immediately or if they are not receiving new applicants at the time.
Robert R. McCormick Foundation http://www.mccormickfoundation.org/journalism/requestproposals.aspx • The McCormick Foundation Journalism Program aims to bolster a more informed citizenry by investing in quality news content and educating people—especially students—to better appreciate the importance of news. They are also dedicated to protecting press freedoms and defending the First Amendment. The overarching focus is on News Literacy and its role as a catalyst for informing and engaging citizens. Request for Proposal (2012 funding) is currently underway. • • Funding Focus: Journalism – Content, Audience and Rights Application Due By: Letter of Inquiry (LOI) due by May 2, 2011
The Lawrence Foundation http://www.thelawrencefoundation.org • The Lawrence Foundation is a private family foundation focused on making grants to support environmental, education, human services and other causes. • Funding Focus: The foundation makes grants to US based, qualified charitable organizations. To date, they have funded organizations that address the following areas of interest: ○ ○ ○ ○ Education (US headquartered organizations for programs in the US) Environment (US headquartered organizations operating in the US or elsewhere in the world) Human Services Disaster relief (US headquartered organizations responding to disasters in the US or elsewhere in the world on an occasional basis) ○ • Other (US headquartered organizations operating programs in the US or elsewhere in the world)
Application Due By: May 31st or November 5th – Grants are awarded twice per year
The Kahanoff Foundation http://www.kahanoff.com/about/intro.php • The Kahanoff Foundation's mission is to foster the development, growth and well-being of communities in Canada and Israel. • Funding Focus: The Foundation invests in building and maximizing the capacity, effectiveness and financial sustainability of social innovators – people and organizations that create lasting impact throughout their community. • Application Due By: They are not currently accepting applications for Israel endeavors, but they could still be a great resource.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation http://www.hewlett.org/grants/grantseekers • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. • Funding Focus: The Hewlett Foundation makes grants in six core program areas: education, environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, and population. In addition, the Foundation makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area. Thus, they might not be the perfect match for AM but they are definitely a potential fit, especially if the grant can be used to sponsor an AM pilot event program for a youth “guest writer” program or contest in the Bay Area. • Application Due By: Ongoing
PARSA http://www.parsacf.org/Page/9 • • PARSA helps Persians foster goodwill in their communities locally, nationally and worldwide. Funding Focus: All potential applicants are first asked to submit a Letter of Inquiry, which is used for initial screening to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements of PARSA CF’s grant process. This
includes being an organization with current 501c3 public charity status, and alignment with PARSA CF priorities. If an LOI is approved, the organization will be invited to submit a full application. • Application Due By: PARSA CF has two grant cycles a year that correspond with Norooz and Mehrgan (Persian vernal equinox and autumnal equinox holidays).
Knight Foundation: Informed and Engaged Communities http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/ • As a national foundation with local roots, the Knight Foundation seeks organizations that provide opportunities that can transform both communities and journalism, and helps them reach their highest potential. They believe nothing big happens without a big idea—nothing new without a new idea. In every project they fund, the idea comes first. Here are five basic components they are looking for in your ideas: discovery of the facts, the vision to see what's possible, the courage to push for change, the knowhow to get it done, and the tenacity to gets results. • Funding Focus: Press Freedom and Freedom of Information. They work to advance journalism excellence, free expression and freedom of information worldwide through high-impact projects. Categories include: ○ News and Newsroom Diversity – They help newsrooms and citizens use emerging technologies to better cover and engage their entire community. ○ Digital Media and News in the Public Interest – They intend to advance the best values of journalism through rapidly developing digital media. ○ Training and Education – They aim to speed the news community's digital transformation by working with both current and future journalists. • Application Due By: Requests are reviewed throughout the year, but the special challenges/contests for grant funding, including the Knight-Batten Awards, have particular due dates.
J-Lab – specifically their New Voices program http://www.j-lab.org/ • J-Lab helps journalists and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways to participate in public life with projects on innovations in journalism, citizen media, interactive stories, entrepreneurship, research, training, and publications. They provide applicable grant funding for their New Voices program, as further described here: http://www.j-newvoices.org/. New Voices is a pioneering program to seed innovative community news ventures in the US. New Voices is administered by J-Lab at American University, and supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. • Funding Focus: Through 2010, New Voices has helped to fund the start-up of 55 projects with a focus on micro-local news projects. The funding focus offers support for news projects similar to AM, but could also be segmented into particular Middle Eastern regions to make the grant proposal more differentiated and applicable. As an example of this year’s grant funding, grantees are receiving $17,000 in grants and have the opportunity for $8,000 in follow-up funding after one year. • Application Due By: They are no longer accepting applications for 2011, but it is worth checking back with them soon for an introduction, and then again at the end of 2011 to inquire about their 2012 plan.
Chapter 5: Advertising Advertising is a typical step in the process of monetizing and driving traffic to a website. Below are five options for ways to advertise on the AM site, all of which could be profitable and are fairly straightforward to implement in the short term. Each option has different advantages and is suitable to certain circumstances. Determining which advertising method is best for AM is an important decision that requires research and analytic data. Knowing AM has analytic information about their users, and could build upon this information using many different free social media analytic tools available on the internet, analytics should be strongly considered. Characteristics include understanding how many people visit the site, what type of people visit, and from where they come to the site in order to determine which advertising option would be the best choice for AM.
Some Suggestions and Considerations on Website Advertising: • Be particular and purposeful about what company’s advertisements go up on your site, what they look like, and where they are placed. It is easy to lose credibility and trustworthiness as a website from poorly done advertising, advertising that detracts from the core brand, or that contradicts the organization’s mission and audience demands. We recommend using advertisements in an attractive, branded, organized way, like Facebook demonstrates. Also, consider using a partner approach to advertisements (exchange space on your site for an ad on a partner’s site) rather than simply placing advertisements for money. Many advertisements are not lucrative unless you have high numbers of visitors to your site, so the aforementioned idea, and others below might be good first steps to continue to build online networks and drive traffic to the site. Next steps in the process would entail moving into a finance-focused phase for online advertising.
a. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising Networks • What it is: This entails signing up with the network and pasting some code snippets on your website. The network will then serve contextual advertisements (either text or images) relevant to your website, and you will earn a certain amount of money for every click.
Map to Mission: Makes money with relevant advertisements and allows readers to learn more from targeted advertisements (particular for programs and services), making this yet another opportunity for continued education on the content subjects.
How to Implement: Google AdSense, Yahoo! Publisher Network, BidVertiser, Chitika, Clicksor are all viable options.
Rationale: Makes money immediately but works moving forward as well. It can be done in a tactful way that doesn’t ruin the site and is gracefully integrated with the purpose of userability.
Note: Tracking and recording the types of traffic that go to the site would provide you with information from which you should be able to determine if the majority are organic traffics from search engines, or direct referrals. Organic traffics from search engines convert well to CPC, but research signals that visitors who visit your site on a regular basis (the direct ones) will hardly ever click on these CPC ads. Using CPM is one viable solution to convert this type of direct traffic to revenue.
b. Cost Per Mile (CPM) Advertising Networks • What it is: CPM advertising networks behave similarly to PPC networks, except that you get paid according to the number of impressions (i.e., page views) that the advertisements displayed on your site will generate. CPM stands for Cost per Mille, and it refers to the cost for 1,000 impressions. CPM advertising tends to work well on websites with a high page views per visitor ratio (e.g., online forums, magazines and so on). CPM is basically how much one can earn when an ad gets 1000 impressions on a website. Some advertisement networks pay on average $3/CPM or $4/CPM. Keep in mind, that the closer you put the ad to the top of the page the higher the CPM, though this might detract from your key branded site visuals and key news. • Map to Mission: This is another option as far as relevant advertising goes. It will not detract from using and engaging networks on the site. This will be beneficial as e-newsletter snippets and daily posts are made. • How to Implement: Casale Media, Burst Media, Value Click, Tribal Fusion, Right Media, Ad Pepper, and Ad Smart are viable options.
Rationale: This option is similar to PPC except that it is better if you know your users and how they arrive to the AM site, either directly or where they come from if indirectly. PPC is better if the users get to your site indirectly through other sites. This is good as new communication and as a marketing campaign to build constituencies through events, youth programs and donor projects. You will have new users to your site, so it is good to have this option for balance and scalability.
c. Direct Banner Advertising • What it is: Selling your own advertising space on other websites. It enables you to cut out the middleman commissions and to determine your own rates. • Map to Mission: Brings eyes to the site and brings in money. It can also support the networking part of your mission by publicizing partners this way, as mentioned in the aforementioned CPM option. • How to Implement: Develop an ad, sell it to advertisers and put advertisers’ advertisements on banners on your site, corporate sponsors, universities, or more, for example. • Rationale: Will help with branding, raising awareness, and bringing in money. Because you cut out the middleman, it is a smart move once you can prove to advertisers that you have a lot of traffic. At this point, it could provide AM with more accountability and marketing data for online advertising opportunities and corporate sponsors and larger donors. Cutting out the middle man could contribute to work operations efficiency if the AM advertising team has enough capacity and capability with this area. This can be very effective if you have a creative team that is dedicated to this, and is a perfect task for journalism/media/design interns, but it does take work. • Note: Choose wisely. People will judge you by your ad choice, placement, and look. Also, when considering the size of the banner ad, one site recommended the 728X90 leader board or the 120X600 skyscraper. Use only top interns for this and a manager who is experienced to review all content before going public. • Note 2: While this is a common form of advertising, How Stuff Works mentions that banner advertisements do not have a ton of popularity for either brand or direct sale advertisers. What branding advertisers came to feel about banner advertisements is that banner advertisements are not the most
effective vehicle for branding. Research found that relative to a magazine ad or a TV ad, banner advertisements are small and easily ignored. Direct sales advertisers discovered through experience that the response rate for banner advertisements is low. You will want to carefully calculate the resources required for this activity to determine if it would be worth the return on the total investment. • Note 3: For most banner advertisements, the industry average seems to hover between two and five clicks per 1,000 impressions of the ad. That is, if a banner ad appears on 1,000 web pages, between two and five people will click on the ad to learn more. Thus, rather than using Direct Banner Advertising to sell a product, you would have to do it to raise awareness, so it probably isn’t worth the $.50 or so per thousand impressions that you would get it for. It might, however, be worth putting a banner ad on your site and letting the ad pay you. • Note 4: Overall, the downside of direct banner advertising is that you need to have a big audience to get qualified advertisers, and you will need to spend time managing the sales process, the banners and the payments and make sure it’s worth it.
d. Affiliate Marketing • What it is: Affiliate marketing is a very popular practice on the Internet. Under this system you have a merchant that is willing to let other people (the affiliates) sell directly or indirectly its products and services, in exchange for a commission. Sometimes this type of advertising is also called CPA (cost per action) or CPL (cost per lead) based. Affiliates can send potential customers to the merchant using several tools, from banners to text links and product reviews. In order to find suitable affiliate programs you can turn to individual companies and publishers like Dreamhost and SEOBook, or join affiliate marketplaces and networks. • Map to Mission: Less closely tied, so it is important to make sure that content is professional, relevant and genuine, and in-line with AM’s core brand messaging. If there are products Reza can sell that relate directly to his mission, his books, for example, this might be an easier and more profitable option to start. This could be more closely tied to AM’s mission if advertisements were links to other books (such as books he uses in his class syllabi or other expert documentaries and resources) to promote the purchasing or using of like
educational resources (this does not have to be just books – educational ebooks, videos and more could be a possibility). • • How to Implement: Commission Junction, Click Bank, Link Share, Amazon Associates Rationale: If there are products that Reza supports—which there could be plenty from his work at UC Irvine and resources he uses to prepare for his talk and has used in his research—it is a good way of increasing recognition of those products while also bringing in revenue. You can use Google analytics to strategically approach and implement this at no cost.
e. Job Board • What it is: AM has a lot of visitors, contributors and volunteers who share interests and skills. Employers want to reach people who have those skills. By adding a job board (or a widget such as the ones from Job Coin, below) to the website, you provide relevant content to your visitors and companies will pay to list jobs in this widget. Also, depending on how it is structured, you could charge people for access to it (for example, using the Club Chapter approach—from the Universities section of the report— where chapter members get access to jobs). • Map to Mission: People want jobs in areas they are passionate about, and you could be a good resource for them and make money in the process. • • How to Implement: Job Coin, Job-a-matic, are strong options and can provide more detail on next steps. Rationale: Though a job board might detract from visual branding and content on the site, there are site placement considerations and networking sections that can be made such as “professional development” or “industry reading and development” where the placement could be gracefully integrated and not detract from the site. This works to further promote the networking aspect of AM’s mission, and has the opportunity to add value to and uniquely differentiate the content of AM’s e-newsletter, as discussed during the final presentation.
Chapter 6: Fundraisers/Events The following are steps and criteria for successful fundraising events, planning and implementation. The list of criteria is flexible, but should be followed as a guideline, taking into account the region, audience and environment where it will take place. The list is meant to serve only as a topline framework.
We suggest that AM take a two-tiered approach to Fundraisers and Events. The Macro approach will include holding 2-3 large events per year, hosted by AM, and the Micro approach will focus on a supporter (individual) or group (student, interest, donor, journalists etc) to host events in the name and support of AM. Both approaches aim to raise a target amount of funding per event but the larger events will be aimed toward higher donations and more expensive tickets. The smaller events should reap little to no resources from AM, and the event host should absorb all expenses. Keep in mind that ”Friendraisers” are good enough sometimes as they raise awareness and bring more eyes to the site. Also remember that events are resource heavy, so make sure it is for publicity and choose the amount of events per year wisely based on your resources and availability to work on them.
a. Events: Macro • • Timing: January, May/June, November – 2 to 3 large events per year Location/Food/Music/Entertainment: High-end location either donated or heavily discounted through AM connections (choose strategically through and because of networks), cocktails and dinner suggested • Speakers: High profile and engaging panel (choose strategically through and because of networks) that also includes a multi-media presentation with human stories that show change in perspectives and shifting of the conversation • Attendees: High profile and driven by “table captains” who drive higher donations; a certain number of discount tickets can be given to students and/or volunteer promoters and volunteers • Auction (silent, out loud or raffle): All items should be online in advance of the event and should be donated
Atmosphere/Environmental Branding: Decor and design can be donated or done pro bono by high profile or local artists connected to AM, flowers as well or at a heavy discount
Promotion: Online pre-auction, pre-cocktail event for VIP (higher donors and ticket sellers), post-event put on by a bar or night club (free) so cash bar will assure this is an extra “perk” at no further expense; differentiated pricing on tickets based on timing and demographic
Press/Media: Invited by AM PR team pre, during and post event – invite influential media you want to get to know, peers in the field or people you would like to partner with
Marketing: Pre, during and post communications online and other from AM team; visual marketing materials light and/or donated printing
Partnership Building: Highlight or celebrate several key partners or thought leaders (peers) in the field at the event from various key stakeholders; strategic seating and action plan for all import AM board and employees to network, work the room, accordingly
b. Events: Micro • • Timing: January-December – a quarterly beneficiary/supporter-held event for publicity Location/Food/Music/Entertainment: Location either at a home, donated or free through AM connections (choose strategically through and because of networks), special prices on cocktails and light appetizers suggested • Speakers: Influence host and/or group for a particular segment/demographic and engaging hosts (choose strategically through and because of networks) and also includes a multi-media presentation with human stories that show change & the conversation shifting. Reza could ideally attend one or two per year. • Attendees: Open to anyone – tickets at low-cost through brown paper tickets or something similar, which serves as a call to action for people to commit, but not meant to deter people due to price. Can be free for students and/or volunteer promoters and volunteers to reward giving back in other ways and keep costs low (they will usually give something)
Auction (silent, out loud or raffle): Not necessary, but good idea to put all items online in advance of the event to promote and start above, another layer of social media strategy, engages more people beyond attendees, and there are cheap or free ways to do this
Atmosphere/Environmental Branding: Decor and design can be donated or done pro bono by local artists or supporters connected to AM, flowers as well or at a heavy discount
Promotion: All network-driven, social media and word of mouth Press/Media: I nvited by AM PR team depending on contacts pre, during and post event – invite people in the field or you’d like to partner with
Marketing: Pre, during and post communications online and other from AM team; visual marketing materials light to give away and/or donated printing; do a “business card” raffle to gain their info for newsletter and for addition marketing opportunity to thank them and follow up after the event.
Partnership Building: Highlight or celebrate several key partners or thought leaders (peers) in the field at the event from various key stakeholders; employees (if possible) to try and attend to network, work the room, accordingly and follow up
Chapter 7: Building a Constituency Constituency-building includes everything in this paper—from partner advertising to events and fundraisers. It also includes building individual relationships now to ask for support/money in the future as well as building more of an online network, for example through causes.
Building a constituency is best done by first strengthening the internal team and network, and then building out. This starts with the AM Board of Directors as mentioned in the first chapter, then moves onto building support through gift giving and fundraising. The next step after creation of the board and strategic fundraising plan is laid out, is to map out a 12-month e-newsletter plan that starts off quarterly but includes monthly efforts to plan, produce content, edit and scrub the list (add or take out/fix wrong emails), then send out to appropriate contacts. Though the e-newsletter could probably be managed by interns, it is best to map this out first and figure out how this will be done, how effective it will be and who will receive it. After that, content should ensure it is being tailored to AM’s key stakeholders – the donors/funders, the clients, and the volunteers (even the folks that contribute to this should get a say on content and get something out of it too in terms of thought leadership and added value).
a. Targeted Planned Giving: This would start with annual Gifts from Reza's friends, board, other key close circle supporters, then build out from there. Planned gifts are usually given in the form of cash. The team sets a reasonable “planned gift/large gift” donation amount either in parts or in full (example: $500). • Characteristics of top prospects: The fundraising team first identifies a list of top prospects. Characteristics of top prospects typically share or include longevity in their participation with AM in any of the following capacities: on the board or as a volunteer in another capacity, as an active contributor or follower of AM (one year or more), as a donor to the Annual Support Campaign (perhaps two years regardless of gift size), as a donor of other resources (time, money, support…). Age is often a consideration, but not a sole criterion.
How to recruit top prospects: Once top prospects have been identified, time should be devoted to staff meeting agendas to discussing members who have become "connected" with AM through their participation. A list of these prospects should be made by all members of AM identifying the staff persons with key relationships. The next step would be to create a plan to move the prospect to a level of interest and schedule a meeting to discuss the issue. Once finalized, the list should include sufficient prospects to meet the donor action plan and goals for the year. Assignments of prospects can be made to committee members so that they may own actions and have specific tasks. A target date should be agreed upon and set by which solicitation appointments should be made. Most visits for larger donor prospects (should) include the Executive Director and the fundraising manager. Once a donor's gift is confirmed, the sequence in point 1 (above) will follow.
Donor/Gift-giving Solicitation Framework: The following is an example of a individual or group donor solicitation framework, and suggestions to encourage planned giving: ○ ○ ○ Meet with your prospect where he or she is most comfortable Involve your key volunteer player; the person who is connected to your prospect Come prepared – materials might include: an AM brochure, information about a particular gift vehicle such as a Gift Annuity, Pooled Income Fund, or Making a Bequest (defined in annex) ○ ○ Opening the call – start the conversation about AM and your donor's AM involvement Explore your donor's needs and desires, answer questions, be transparent, and share materials as appropriate ○ Present the benefits of the gift from your donor's perspective (e.g., reduced taxes, increased income, perpetuate the work of the AM for the long term) ○ ○ ○ Be prepared for resistance by anticipating blocks Ask for the commitment Leave with a commitment to follow up if a decision was not made
b. Start a “Cause” on Facebook: • What it is: A space on the website dedicated entirely to expressing the “cause” AM was created to address. This goes beyond the mission statement, vision, and goals listed on the “About Us” page and creates a more obvious announcement that the organization is part of an active social cause. This lets all visitors (and potential donors) know what the organization’s ultimate goal and purpose are, and encourages people to support or actively join the cause. • How to implement: Sections of the site would be dedicated to addressing the outrageous misperceptions about the formerly titled “war on terror,” Islam in general, etc… as Reza does in his talks and books. Synthesize the message Reza spread advertisements in his talks, the mission, vision, goals and the ultimate purpose into a clear and marketable cause. Communicate this clearly and obviously to your audience on the website so that visitors will know exactly what you are inviting them to be a part of and to support. • Map to mission: The site would then have elements to make it an awareness raising campaign and therefore a reason to financially support the organization through corporate sponsorship because they want to be seen supporting this cause. • Rationale: AM may not attract corporations interested in cause marketing within the realm of corporate engagement because the “cause” is not as pronounced as something like cancer research. They also may not retain visitors to the site who remain unclear about what makes it so different from other news sites like Huffington Post, aside from the obvious regional focus of its content. • Note 1: Creating awareness about your cause has many potential advantages when it comes to seeking donors, attracting following, motivating people, creating a sense of community, inciting action, etc… This is very easy to implement and could result in substantial benefits.
c. EBay Giving Works • What it is: EBay Giving Works is a way people can shop, sell and donate to AM. With an official 501c3, a nonprofit can put their organization on their list online.
How to implement: Go to their Website and enroll AM to the program (http:// givingworks.ebay.com/). Then publicize to through all of AM’s communications channels about what eBay Giving Works is and how it functions. Next, request supporters choose their site when buying anything on eBay – there is a button to do this at checkout. There is also an option where supporters of AM can sell products on eBay as a donation, then apply Giving Works to the merchandise. Once Giving Works is applied to an item, the cash generated from the sale will be available for transfer to the nonprofit organization specified. The final option on this site is to donate directly to AM through Paypal if registered on eBay (a way for organizations who don’t have a donate button on their site).
Map to mission: The site would then have additional elements to strengthen its awareness raising campaign, bringing people together and encouraging civic engagement as outlined in AM’s mission. This is a way to get AM involved in donor giving in a unique variety of ways. This is especially lucrative for AM’s younger supporters who are not financially stable enough to donate money, but who are tech savvy and willing to participate.
Rationale: This offers different ways to donate to AM, but can also be used in conjunction with corporate partnerships. This also has the potential to be included in university partnerships if student donor drives are conducted, or could serve as another good way to publicize AM to new users and potential donors through eBay. This recommendation will boost awareness about AM when seeking donors, attracting a following, motivating people, creating a sense of community and philanthropy through conscious consumerism, igniting action and more. This is very easy to implement immediately and could result in substantial benefits.
Conclusion Our focus throughout this project was to link Aslan Media’s mission and goals with revenue-generating ideas. We have provided a variety of potential opportunities for AM to monetize their mission, generate revenue, and become a financially sustainable organization. Through internal efforts as well as multiple strategic partnerships AM has an abundance of opportunities to bring in money and grow the organization, while simultaneously increasing its ability to achieve its mission and increase the social impact of its activities.
Between our short-, mid-, and long-term structure, and looking at the estimated required resource investment and ROI, we have offered tools to help AM decide what comes next. Each chapter provides a step-by-step approach to implementing each recommendation. Additional resources and information about recommendations can be found in the appendices, which include a toolkit that provides active links to sites. All of the information provided herein may be used to help AM determine the most viable and potentially rewarding partnerships and opportunities. The combination of revenue streams will differ for AM than for other organizations and websites. Yet we are confident that you will find the right mixture of actions and partnerships that, with patience and dedication, will allow the organization to thrive as a financially sustainable entity.
Aslan Media’s potential is extraordinary and we look forward to following its progress. We sincerely hope the recommendations and resources we have provided will be beneficial and serve you in the pursuit of your mission. We are thrilled we had the opportunity to contribute to your cause, to work with your extraordinary staff, and to support the growth of your organization.
Appendix a: Toolkit with links to relevant sites
Resource/ Partner Mideast Youth
Opportunity Free website design, development and hosting services
Specific Action/ More Information
Time to Action
Provide free services to http:// Short-term emerging individuals and www.mideastyou nonprofits with similar th.com/ missions. Focus is on quality, unique designs and functionality http:// Short-term www.google.com /edu/index.html
University Partnerships Net Impact
Google.org Specific resources for educator resources educators that could help build out your curriculum and school partnerships either through the AM site or other
Aslan Media Club Club chapters at different http:// Mid-term Chapters schools are tapped into a www.netimpact.o network with shared rg/ resources, and could potentially be tasked with common goals and activities Reach out to these http:// Short-term organizations to see if they reporter.asu.edu / want to link or share your journ.htm content, invite them to your events, and maybe think about using these sites as a model for a cohesive site Assign some interns to reach out to top bloggers with stories from Reza and engage in link exchanges, etc. to find out who they advertise with for research, information and industry insight http:// Short-term www.evancarmic hael.com /Tools/ Top-50-SocialEntrepreneurship -Blogs- ToWatchIn-2010.htm http:// Long-term www.greenmarke ting.tv / 2010/09/15/theultimate-list -ofsocial-enterpriseblogs/
Journalism Corporate partnership leads partnerships and sites through industry network/ partnership building Blogger, journalism sites on social entrepreneurism Diverse areas/ industries – could capture new donors and supporters
Blogger, journalism sites on social and sustainable entrepreneurism
Diverse areas/ Assign some interns to industries – could reach out to top bloggers capture new with stories from Reza and donors and engage in link exchanges, supporters in etc. to find out who they sustainability field advertise with for research and intel
Blogger, journalism sites on social and sustainable entrepreneurship
Captures new Assign interns to reach top http://socialShort-term donors and bloggers with stories from entrepreneurship. supporters or Reza to keep them posted alltop.com/ targets for online on information regularly, to advertising set up a monthly column partnerships in the from Reza or “link support” social impact or any sort of online space advertising exchange, engage in link exchanges, etc… Corporate Sponsorship Best Buy donates annually http:// Short-term www.bestbuycommunityrelatio ns.com/ community_grant s.htm To find corporations with altruistic pursuits, and corporate social responsibility initiatives To find corporations with altruistic pursuits, and corporate social responsibility initiatives http://www.corp- Short-term research.org/
Corporate Corporate Research Project Sponsorship
Corporate How to Do Corporate Partnerships Corporate Sponsorship Research Online
http://www.corp- Short-term research.org/ howto
IEG Sponsorship IEG Sponsorship “For nearly three decades, http:// Short-term Community Community IEG has been developing www.sponsorshi new and better ways for p.com/ companies and brands to partner with sports, arts, events, entertainment, nonprofits, and causes—for mutual benefit.” NOZA Charitable NOZA Charitable “World’s largest database of https:// Short-term Organizations Organizations charitable organizations www.nozasearch. Database Database com GALE Business and Company Resource Center Research potential “…provides access to a donors and wide variety of global supporters business information, including competitive intelligence, career and investment opportunities, business rankings, company histories and much more.” http:// Short-term www.gale.cengag e.com / BusinessRC/
United Nations Global Compact
Research potential “…a strategic policy http:// Short-term donors and initiative for businesses that www.unglobalco supporters are committed to aligning mpact.org/ their operations and strategies with then universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption.” Research potential To find corporations with donors and altruistic pursuits, and supporters and corporate social leverage network responsibility initiatives http:// Short-term businessethicsnet work.org/
Business Ethic Network
CSR Wire Corporate Partnerships
Research potential “The leading source of http:// Short-term donors and corporate social www.csrwire.co supporters responsibility and m/philanthropy sustainability news, reports, events and information.” http:// Short-term www.nottingham .ac.uk/business/ ICCSR/ index.php
International Research potential “The ICCSR is one of the Centre for donors and world’s leading centres for Corporate Social supporters study and research of Responsibilty Corporate Social Responsibility.” Ethical Markets
Research potential “Your gateway to a cleaner, http:// Short-term donors and greener 21st Century www.ethicalmark supporters Economies” ets.com/ Research potential “Top-of-the-line business http:// Short-term donors and information, unmatched in www.hoovers.co supporters quality and quantity.” m/ Long-term
Various NGO Start an NGO Use this site, NGO Forum http:// board associations network to share for Global Governance to ngoboards.org/ ideas/resources find ideas and leads to start terms and potential leads a virtual/professional executive group for likeminded professionals that would meet for podcasts or virtual meetings quarterly or bi-annualy Foundation Center Research potential “Foundation Center is the grants leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide.”
http:// Short-term foundationcenter. org/
Grants Fundsnet Services Research potential Extensive list of links to grants grant pages by category http:// Short-term www.fundsnetser vices.com/ AidPage Research potential Extensive list of different http:// Short-term grants categories and maps to tons foundationsof foundations and how nonprofitsmuch money they have to activitydonate categories.idilogi c.aidpage.com/ foundationsnonprofitsactivitycategories/ UC Irvine/Various Grant leads and Use this page to get leads on http:// Long-term potential potential grants and www.uadv.uci.ed partnerships partnerships u/ Google for Nonprofits Limitless!! Apply for Google for Nonprofits and utilize the resources they offer Sign up for free services http:// Short-term www.google.com /nonprofits/
Google AdSense Pay Per Click Crowdfunding Use followers/ supporters and online resources
http:// Short-term www.google.com /ads/ Examples include http:// Short-term Kickstarter.com, Kiva, and www.crowdfundi Facebook “Causes”. For ngsecrets.com/ more information, read 3 start.html new funding ideas that make life easier
Pay Per Click
AdWords and AdSense Amazon Associates
Place an advertisement for http:// Long-term something on amazon that www.amazonserv (need links to your site that people ices.com/content/ products to can buy product-ads-on- sell) amazon.htm? id=hm2&ld=SES TPADSGOO&s_ kwcid=TC| 13441|PPC advertising||S|p| 9763356210 how-it-works Sign up for their services http:// Short to www.google.com mid-term /ads/ Affiliate Marketing (you https://affiliate- Short, mid advertise something that program.amazon. and longpeople buy through Amazon com/ term and you get a commission)
You get $3 or $4 per 1000 http:// Short, mid visits to your site (the www.adpepper.c and longassumption is people om/ term visiting your site are seeing an ad, so the advertiser is paying you for that attention and space, not for the clicks) You get $3 or $4 per 1000 http:// Short, mid visits to your site (the www.valueclick. and longassumption is people com/ term visiting your site are seeing an ad, so the advertiser is paying you for that attention and space, not for the clicks) You get $3 or $4 per 1000 http:// Short, mid visits to your site (the www.casalemedi and longassumption is people a.com/ term visiting your site are seeing an ad, so the advertiser is paying you for that attention and space, not for the clicks) You get $3 or $4 per 1000 http:// Short, mid visits to your site (the www.adtegrity.co and longassumption is people m/ term visiting your site are seeing an ad, so the advertiser is paying you for that attention and space, not for the clicks)
Google Double Click
Direct Banner Ads “Ad management and ad http:// Short, mid serving technology www.google.com and longfoundation for the world’s /doubleclick/ term buyers, creators and sellers of digital media” Affiliate Marketing Place advertisements on http:// Short, mid your site for others to click www.linkshare.c and longthrough to buy stuff and get om/publishers/ term a commission Post relevant jobs on website and get paid for it http:// Short, mid www.jobcoin.co and longm/ term
Various Mid East Networking organizations various, key Mid East organization and academic programs
Bring together various Example: http:// Short-term organizations, key mediame.com/ stakeholders and supporters/ event_type/ students in a conference conference/ under the name of AMMid middle_east_digi East Conference (for social tal_media_confer media). ence Create a team within AM Example: http:// Mid-term and/or other partner conference.colleg organizations to put on an eart.org/2012/ annual cultural/arts or music festival – AM can take a cut Make a calendar for all TED Example: http:// Mid-term conferences and deadlines www.ted.com/ and send applications in registration/ consistently, on a rolling choose/event/ basis 2012 (Search “TED registration” to find active link) Artists sell their stuff online through AM. Artists could do 200 prints and donate them (tax write off) – could do it on cafepress as well. Nelle Sacknoff (firstname.lastname@example.org) can connect Roshi to them. “Artists rising” at art.com use the same idea. Doing this as an event makes the buying more immediate and requires engagement. Specifically use this list to find other authors with similar Middle Eastern targeted audiences. Examples: Long-term Art Rising – http:// www.artrising.ne t/ Cafepress – http:// shop.cafepress.co m/ Art.com – http:// www.art.com/
Art/music content/ Organize or festivals – like partner with other Boomgen for host organizations music for this event opportunity Prioritize Reza speaking at and attending TED conferences To speak globally, gain more PR, partnership potential, advertising leads, and to become a fellow “TED Fellow”
Various global Online arts artists who work auction or sale on Mid East art event and story expression
Amazon Publishing Co. Building a Constituency
PR, reviews on Amazon.com, potential partnerships and donors
http:// Long-term www.amazon.co m/MiddleEastern-WritersGreatest-books/ lm/ R15O7C6TYXP 0EC
Appendix b: Exhaustive list of other potential income generators, including additional ideas generated from the MIIS brainstorm session
• • • • • • •
Speaking Fees from Reza Ebook Sales Ezine or Enewsletter Link your videos on Jon Stewart and Colbert to your site Educational tourism to the middle east Mideast Conference (for social media) Staff Consulting – establish a strategic partnership with a consulting firm like Price Waterhouse Coopers, where your staff can consult on issues pertaining to the Middle East, for example if a company wanted to expand there.
• • • • • •
Monetize Reza’s endorsements (with integrity) Be the source of “What’s Cool in the Middle East” Get Middlebury Partnership solidified Get Reza on TED Get your journalistic pieces on other sites Artists could sell their work online through AM. They could do 200 prints and donate them (tax write off), could also use cafepress or art.com (“Artists Rising”)
Appendix c: Examples of multiple revenue streams chart
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