My apologies if this isn't the correct list to ask...We're the nonprofit partner of the NPS in the Golden Gate parks; we raise funds, do volunteer and member management; plan and implement restoration and visitor-enhancing projects, and provide communications and create youth and other programs.We have many project/program-specific sponsors who contribute directly to large projects, and those receive brand acknowledgment on our site. However, we're also finding opportunities to share online marketing with some for-profits with whom we might have no other relationship. For example, we've tailored an XML feed of our popular events calendar to stream into a leading Bay Area nature magazine's calendar; they in turn link back to us from these postings and might provide us w/banner ad space. We've been approached by a what-to-do-this-weekend newsletter that would like to showcase some of our content in their site/newsletter in return for branded content from them in ours. We've also discussed swapping banner ad space.Although we might post a corporate sponsor's logo and thanks in a page or perhaps our monthly newsletter, sharing content/page space on its own is new to us. Among our questions:
Any ideas, draft policies, or other resources greatly appreciated! Thanks -- Mark
I'll address your questions point-by-point:
Is it unfair to give branded space to an "online marketing partner" when we don't offer, say, a Levi's advertisement for a corp. sponsor's product?
No. You aren't selling ad space in either case. The online marketing partner is actually assisting you with a mission-related activity, promoting events that take place in the park. Levi's isn't buying ad space, they are supporting the park and being thanked for that support. The mission-related value of linking to a site that promotes your events is clear, it let's folks know that they can also check that website to find information about your events. Not clear on the mission-related value of publishing branded content from the "what to do this weekend" newsletter ? It would be ok to thank them for promoting your events, but you should feel no obligation to promote their site or publish their content. There doesn't seem to be mission up side to doing that.
Shouldn't we open this swapping up to all potential "online marketing partners"? Is it strategic/fair to work only with those we have some relationship with (i.e., it might be better to approach all top referrers to our site with a menu of attention-sharing options...)
I would advise against this. It's not a question of fairness, it's a question of balancing the mission of the NPO against the need to promote events effectively. It's important to keep the focus on the work you're doing at the park. Perfectly ok to encourage other sites to link to your content, but don't use the promise of linking back as a motivator. The places you have relationships with are being recognized for their long term commitment to helping you promote the park.
When is it appropriate to link to a for-profit site, and how?
It's appropriate in the context of a thank you page, or if there is an article on the site about a program that supports your NPO. From a fundraising perspective showing that a good number and variety of people and companies support your work can help encourage others to follow suit.
When we're the creator and first source for so much original content/programming in the parks, are we giving it away to quickly?
No, not at all. It's important to have these events listed in public places. Many NPOs struggle to achieve this level of attention for their programs. May having too many websites and newsletters informing folks about your programs continue to be the heaviest burden you experience.
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I think if you can create good content that people are interested in, and you can make smoe money doing that, that it takes the pressure off your other funding sources. I dislike many NP's attitude that they can only accept "handouts" and donations to fund their mission. Of course, I don't think a NP should comprimise it's values, but those may been to be re-evaluated in some cases.
If your organization is mostly concerned with rasaising awareness and getting in front of more people, generating free content is a very way to do that. But the other thing to consider is that if you can create this content, do you really need those other partners? Constant generation of good content is one of the best ways to generate traffic to your site. If you can do that, then you could charge for advertising on your site if you wanted to and I don't think you would have any problem picking and choosing who your customers are. :-)
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