Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Take Our Poll - Should Nonprofit Organizations Sell Ad Space on their Websites?

Until recently, my answer to this question was a firm no. The Fertile Hope team knew not to broach the subject with me. I wouldn’t budge. Until last week, when we opened intake for our annual Cancer & Fertility Referral Guide and, gasp, we are selling online ads.

What changed? A lot. My job is to do what is best for our users. Patients and survivors keep telling us that they want more information, more customization, more, more, more. They want it easier, faster and all for free. We used to be able to meet these needs through big corporate grants, but the landscape of fundraising is changing and those grants are not as easy to come by. So, we had to get creative. Can we tie meeting a patient need with a diversified, sustainable revenue stream?

We checked out the market to see how others do it. What is WebMD’s revenue model? Ad sales. BabyCenter? Ad sales. What do you think? Take our poll. Does this take away from the credibility of the information we provide? Would you rather have no ads and no information or ads and the information and tools you need? Would you rather pay for the information yourself? While we wait to hear the verdict – please buy your ads!

1 comment:

  1. Great question, I say go for it.

    Let's face it: What is the Avon Walk? An ad for Avon. What is the ASCO conference? An ad for pharma. LIVESTRONG - a business alliance with Nike from the get go. Philanthropy has a long history of ties to corporate giants - Carnegie Libraries, for example. Non-profits need a cash stream from somewhere, whether it is an ad disguised as a grant or simply an ad.

    I think the important thing to remember is with an ad not only are they endorsing you, but it appears to the reader that Fertile Hope is endorsing them. Don't give ad space to just anyone. Vet them thoroughly. And lastly, make it known to the readers in writing that they are seeing a paid advertisement (small font at the bottom of the ad.)