Setting Media Budgets

We know of several organizations in our Jewish communal world that are in the final planning stages and will shortly launch new web endeavors. We know of others who are re-evaluating their current web presence or planning brand new ventures. This is all to the good and can produce untold dividends; but we need to remember that gearing up, launching and maintaining a viable web site is a lot of work. All to often, particularly with a new venture, even from established organizations, good solid budgeting is overlooked.

In their book Every Nonprofit’s Guide to Publishing, Cheryl Woodard and Lucia Hwang maintain that there is no one single format that will work for every publication. They do, however, offer several general tips that will help develop an effective media budget. They advise:

  • Focus on the most expensive items first. For example, salaries, benefits and other compensation-related fixed expenses are often the largest budget item for an organization that hires an editor for newsletters, magazines or Web sites. After that, the highest costs are usually associated with printing and mailing for print or paying programmers to generate Web-based tools for an online presentation.
  • Understand what drives variable expenses. For electronic publications, content programming is often the most expensive, followed by marketing or traffic building.
  • Establish priorities. What’s more important, for example, quality paper or quality writing?
  • Review and revise. Budget thinking can very likely change as you gather new information.

And while you’re at it, if you have a new web initiative in consideration, check our previous post Don’t Underestimate the Staff Factor.