The Nonprofit Publisher’s Perfect Storm



posted by
Ryan Johnson

Vice President, 
Publishing and Community
 for WorldatWork

I really hesitate to use the phrase “perfect storm” here, because it has become so over-used since the movie of the same name was released more than a decade ago. Nonetheless, I think it is descriptive for what nonprofit publishers, like me, have experienced recently. But I’m a first time blogger here, so before I invoke that well-worn (but apt!) cliché, I think some context is in order.

My job title indicates that I am responsible for publishing and community at a Scottsdale-headquartered nonprofit profession association. In case you haven’t heard of WorldatWork, we have more than 20,000 members and annual revenues of around $20 million. Although, we serve members around the world, our average member works in the human resources department of a large company (5,000+ employees) in North America. My guess is that we are larger than the average Arizona nonprofit, in both employees and revenue, but if part of your organizational mission is to deliver information, content or education, this story may resonate.

If You Don't Ask, You Won't Get and Thinking Outside That Old Box

posted by 
Shelley Gillespie,
Venture Court Productions


During my time with a national nonprofit in Washington, D.C., I found myself assigned to projects that were already in process or rehashes of annual solicitations. This required some fast turnarounds, as we were on tight deadlines. But, we still had to make these donor requests lively and effective.

The section where all of the stories and marketing efforts came together was in the "check-off" area. Strangely, the top amount our pamphlet was requesting was a mere $2,500. I asked my director why.

 His answer was, "That's what we've always done."

With a little coaxing, I convinced him to increase the top amount to $5,000.

After the solicitations were disseminated, the results spoke for themselves. Four donors had upped their donations to the new top level, increasing our yield by over $12,000. With a few extra numbers and an underline, we made a difference to our bottom line.

Crush the box!

"Think outside of the box"— is so clichéd that I hope the world will invent some new catch phrase to indicate a refreshing approach to arriving at solutions.

Perhaps we should crush the box, dismantle the box, jump over the box, or invite others to join us in the box for a party.