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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Promoting and Raising $$ For a NonProfit Site

    This is probably not the first time you guys have been asked this, but I didn't find anything quite suitable in a search. So, apologies in advance.

    I'm a junior admin for the History Commons. We're doggedly non-profit (503-C), to the point where the senior admins don't want advertising. We survive on a small grant and on donations. The best way to describe the site is "we want to be a historical / political Wikipedia," without the lefty-righty partisan connotations of your average blog. (We're NOT a blog.)

    Basically, we're out of $$. Our senior editor is on indefinite hiatus because we don't have the bucks to keep him working. Very bad for us.

    Here's what's in the pipeline already: a RFQ for a site redesign (there will be a fee for the design selected, but it won't be what a commercial design would bring). A user survey is going to be released to the email list (about 4,000 readers). We're considering putting up a blog for user interaction. We're discussing different methods of outreach, but haven't hit on anything yet. We're researchers and grassroots organizer types, not designers or marketers, so we're kind of at sea.

    Any ideas? We really need some direction here.
    Last edited by stymiee; Jan 5, 2008 at 17:07. Reason: removed unnecessary link.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Can't say I'm thrilled with the response so far....

  3. #3
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    I apologise, I simply am not exactly sure how to help a person in your position.

    For outreach, free outreach, I would suggest that as many of the team as is willing post on other blogs and forums with your link in the sig. Other than that, I do not know how to help your funding issues.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast hollywoodOG's Avatar
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    Use Digg.com Post historical writings in articles on there, pay aprox $100 try to get your article "hot", it's possible with the right # of diggs you could reach front page, that's ALOT of traffic, yet hard to achieve find connections on forums to people doing digg exchanges. As well submit your articles to article directories. Build up your SEO, consider Adwords to begin, your focus should be NOT rushing into it, but rather building up your site step by step, to get it ranked correctly. I cannot stress how important this is, it makes the diffrence between a site that's active then dies in 2 months, and the site that takes 2 years to grow, and the next 20 years is the next Google.
    :: ǪΓFεΐИз ΆđdїŦ ///:: Next Luxury ++ The Online Men's Magazine

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input, folks.

    Our problem is that we're not a commercial site. We "market" our content, for researchers, information junkies, and the like, but there's no way we can make any money off of this except when and if we turn some of our work into books (as one of us already has). We have done virtually nothing to promote ourselves, we don't even do reciprocal links at present. All of this is changing, of course. We're going to begin Digging, Technorating, and so forth, and when we do the redesign, one eye will be firmly placed on SEO fluffing. I doubt very seriously the admins will be up for Adwords or Google Ads or any sort of site-based advertising.

    I already do the forum sig link bit, but none of us are big on posting in forums and blogs. (Heck, I post in Sitepoint more than almost anywhere else I go, and that isn't much. Linking to the Commons in this forum doesn't seem right, as our site has nothing to do with the discussions in here.)

    Again, thanks for the ideas, and if anyone else has anything they can offer, please do.

  6. #6
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    Write a blog about the site and each topic. Make sure to submit rss feeds to rss directories and ping the feeds.

    This might get some new people on the site faster

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast hollywoodOG's Avatar
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    No advertising = No Revenue, without revenue you won't be able to purcahse traffic, advertising, etc. That will kill you, non-profit means you don't keep the revenue you only re-invest it back.
    :: ǪΓFεΐИз ΆđdїŦ ///:: Next Luxury ++ The Online Men's Magazine

  8. #8
    whagwan? silver trophybronze trophy akritic's Avatar
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    I would agree, even the most minimal Adsense would at least have some revenue generated. You can't count the chickens before they've hatched, and although I understand the desire to be add-free, in the end you need some funds to keep things ticking over, like hosting costs etc. If the Creative Commons has enough pageviews, there are some high end ad agencies willing to pay very good money for CPM ads (cost per thousand impresssions) And in addition, you should be able to choose the ads and help target their usefulnes that way.

    Even if you link to the site from here Max, at least you may get some visitors who really catch on to the site, it's very worthwhile even if it is unrelated. That's why people use signature links for that very reason.

    Do you have a 'donate' button via paypal or something? I agree this isn't necessarily the way to go, however there are kind people out there and I have on occasion donated money to websites in need after I have looked around and verified the genuine need.

    Does the site have a forum? Is it public? One good way to rally masses of readers is just to have a place for them to get involved.


    Andy

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Andy, good to hear from you.

    >>I would agree, even the most minimal Adsense would at least have some revenue generated. You can't count the chickens before they've hatched, and although I understand the desire to be add-free, in the end you need some funds to keep things ticking over, like hosting costs etc.

    I'm not the one adamantly opposed to advertising of any kind....

    >>Even if you link to the site from here Max, at least you may get some visitors who really catch on to the site, it's very worthwhile even if it is unrelated. That's why people use signature links for that very reason.

    You're right. Easily done. (Edit: I thought it was easily done. For some reason, the sig isn't appearing.)

    >>Do you have a 'donate' button via paypal or something? I agree this isn't necessarily the way to go, however there are kind people out there and I have on occasion donated money to websites in need after I have looked around and verified the genuine need.

    We do, and we actually get pretty good donations from the relatively small, "core" users who regularly visit.

    >>Does the site have a forum? Is it public? One good way to rally masses of readers is just to have a place for them to get involved.

    That's one of the things we're proposing in the new site. We have a public forum, but it's pretty much moribund. I'd like to find a volunteer to run a site-related blog -- itself a time-consuming venture, and not something we can just spend a few minutes on a week.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard esds's Avatar
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    Check with change.org, it is social networking to help social causes, I hope that may help you.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Well can we at least help with the sig issues?! What code are you using? You should also check that the show your signature box is checked when you submit a reply.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast Mike Newton's Avatar
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    A blog might assist with more donations, creating interest. As mentioned, it is difficult to monetize with the no ad policy. The methods for blogging can just as easily be applied to revamping your current forum.

    Keep advertising (free) for additional sponsors who don't mind not having a link or ad on your site...which is hardly enticing I know.

    Hook up to a lot of social sites, news groups etc using RSS, pinging, onlywire or something similar. Write a lot of posts (or outsource) that can be future dated to minimize your time and perhaps make use of free press releases because you don't really need to have an earth shattering, mind blowing announcement to use them. Try getting back links from authority sites in your niche that don't conflict with what you are doing.

    Consider guest bloggers/blog moderators, which will also minimize your time and if you can get people who have the same interest in your topic, they'll have a great chat, ideally attract more posters and possibly increase donations. Take some anti-spamming precautions wherever possible. Keep the donation buttons and you may choose to include them after each post e.g. If you like this post, make a donation etc.

    Consider outsourcing to convert more of your work into ebooks for digital download using a PayPal button. This can be inexpensive and you can advertise for content writers in SitePoint or submit a project to Elance etc.
    Last edited by Mike Newton; Jan 10, 2008 at 03:03.

  13. #13
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Firstly, I sympathise with your situation. I've worked with a few clients that went belly up in your situation, and some that actually turned their websites around, one altering its content and becoming a relatively large media network now.

    I would definitely go with the suggestions of creating a sense of community with a Blog and Forum. You seem to have your content working well enough for you to come up with a few opinion articles to keep the Blog going over time. As far as joining Social Bookmarking websites go I would think about joining Newsvine, a Social News and Blogging site, where users submit their content for their community to read. The community there is generally happy to receive any users with content to spare, and as long as you post articles you are free to add a small disclaimer saying where the article comes from on every post. I've known a few sites do that to boost their visitors, as well as use some of the revenue they pay monthly to pay for hosting. Content is even more so king now than ever, and if you can find a way to get that content out there for the masses then you'll strike it big. The Newsvine community like to help causes such as yours as well so a few posts about your situation and your reason for posting your Blog posts on there will get you quite a few readers from the bat.

    To be honest Blogging is probably your best bet. Additionally, to spare hosting costs try and host things on free content websites if possible. Link your images in from other image hosting websites (if allowed in their TOS), write your Blog using a platform like Blogger, WordPress or maybe even Newsvine for a built-in audience, launch a forum on something like Proboards or the others. There are hundreds of sites offering something for nothing, and if you utilise them well you may end up slashing hosting costs.

    I've written a few articles, and one great way of promoting your content is to find Blogs that cover the same kind of content and sending them a polite email showing them some of your content. If they like it enough (like they did with me) they may link and create Blog posts of their own to show your content off.

    As far as the signature goes, it's not coming up because you started posting without a signature. Next time you post it will come up, and if you want it up on your previous posts you'll have to edit them and go to Miscellaneous Options, under Additional Options.

    I genuinely wish you all the best with your website, and I'm sure with the right work you'll get yourselves back up on your feet. Make sure you pop back into the forums again in a while and tell the users here how you're progressing.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Some of these are terrific ideas. We're facing the "big initial bump" situation right now--not enough people and time to do what we need done, and a tremendous lot of things we want to accomplish. Once we get over the initial hump, we'll have more ability to do what we think needs doing.

    >>A blog might assist with more donations, creating interest. As mentioned, it is difficult to monetize with the no ad policy. The methods for blogging can just as easily be applied to revamping your current forum.

    We're definitely going towards blogging as a support tool for the site. How that's going to work out is unclear right now.

    >>Write a lot of posts (or outsource) that can be future dated to minimize your time and perhaps make use of free press releases because you don't really need to have an earth shattering, mind blowing announcement to use them.

    This is very similar to something we're just beginning to implement. Unfortunately, the admin who was handling this is on hiatus at the moment.

    >>Consider guest bloggers/blog moderators, which will also minimize your time and if you can get people who have the same interest in your topic, they'll have a great chat, ideally attract more posters and possibly increase donations.

    This is a fabulous idea.

    >>Consider outsourcing to convert more of your work into ebooks for digital download using a PayPal button. This can be inexpensive and you can advertise for content writers in SitePoint or submit a project to Elance etc.

    Also very interesting, and something I hadn't considered.

    >>As far as joining Social Bookmarking websites go I would think about joining Newsvine, a Social News and Blogging site, where users submit their content for their community to read. The community there is generally happy to receive any users with content to spare, and as long as you post articles you are free to add a small disclaimer saying where the article comes from on every post.

    I have very little experience with Newsvine, but I will look into it. Sounds like something we could definitely benefit from doing.

    I'll definitely keep you guys appraised of what's happening. Again, thanks for the input.

  15. #15
    whagwan? silver trophybronze trophy akritic's Avatar
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    Max, regarding your sig - it will appear on all your posts once the sitepoint server does what it does periodically to update any changes.

    Has anyone from the history commons tried contacting newspapers and magazines to see if they would run an article on the work being done by the site? I'm not sure who you would target in America, but some old fasioned 'good press' might send some interested visitors and solicit donations. (Might even work for Radio also)

    Do keep us up to do date on developments


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