The Long Tail of Nonprofit Communications

Starfish Television Network Offers Free Airing of Your Nonproft Programming

Hits used to rule.

In Hollywood the blockbuster has been the dominant business model since the first Star Wars movie was released.

In 2004, only 1,187 books sold 50,000 or more copies and only 10 titles sold more than a million copies in the States. Fully 948,000 of the 1.2million titles released that year sold fewer than 100 copies!

Hits ruled, says Chris Anderson… the editor of Wired and author of The Long Tail… because of physics. Even at a Wal-Mart Supercenter, there’s space for no more than 5,000 CDs. And every one is carefully selected with the expectation that it will sell; that the inventory will 'turn.' Otherwise inventory and carrying costs eat up all the margin. In the physical world of atoms, inventory is the veritable 'hot potato;' hold onto it too long and you get burned.

But in an online environment where you store and sell not atoms but bytes, you can profitably sell not just a few thousand CDs, but hundred of thousands.

Astonishingly, at online retailers like Rhapsody… which ‘stocks’ more than 1.5 million tracks… every single title, no matter how obscure or ‘nichey,’ is sold at least one a quarter!

Welcome to the wonderful world of long tail economics, where abundance not scarcity is the ruling paradigm and where niche markets can be the most profitable markets.

What’s the application to nonprofits and cause marketing? I’m still cogitating on that. Certainly, there’s been an explosion of nonprofit registrations with the IRS in the last 10 years. With somewhere north of 1.5 million nonprofit charities in the States the need for context and filtering has never been greater.

You could make a pretty good argument that Kiva.org, which enables you to pick a third-world business to support with a micro-loan, is the long tail of philanthropy.

Long tail economics has also made it possible for nonprofits to promote their mission and programming to a broader audience than ever before.

In my view, the Starfish Television Network is a prime example of the long tail of nonprofit communications and development. Starfish is itself organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and its mission is to air programming that supports the mission and purpose of other nonprofits.

Starfish launches on Dish 1000 on March 28 and they are in need of compelling nonprofit programming of all kinds, which they will air for free. Dish 1000 has somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million subscribers, so the potential audience is quite large.

To learn how you can get your nonprofit programming aired visit www.starfishtv.org or call them at: 801-567-3180.

Full Disclosure: I’m presently doing work for the Starfish Television Network.

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