Media Cause is a marketing company that focuses on helping non-profits increase awareness for their programs, raise more money online, and better engage with their supporters. The startup provides marketing and social media advertising support to non-profits of a wide range of sizes and budgets.
This is accomplished primarily through the creation of a large and engaged volunteer community. Non-profits start the process by signing up for Media Cause and requesting services from volunteers that match their specific needs. SEO requests, Google Grants, digital advertising campaigns and social media initiatives are separated into smaller projects called “challenges” that are then completed by anyone in the volunteer community. In exchange for the marketing and advertising support they provide, volunteers are then recognized publicly through facebook posts, tweets, blog posts and LinkedIn recommendations.
With 1.8 million 501(c)3 non-profits in the US and many more non-profits around the world there is a large, yet predominantly untapped market for the marketing and advertising of all these non-profit organizations. Most non-profit organizations run on tight budgets and focus the vast majority of their efforts on their organization’s mission. They often have little time and few resources to advertise themselves, raise money or increase their online presence. Yet the need to engage in these activities is critical for non-profits to grow and strengthen their impacts. Thus, there is a clear need in the marketing and advertising industry for services that target non-profit organizations. Media Cause is an interesting startup in that it seeks to close the marketing and advertising gap between non-profit organizations and their for-profit peers.
Media Cause is also a particularly attractive company given recent trends in marketing and advertising that seem to be making it easier for non-profits to launch and garner support. To begin with, fundraising has been democratized through crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter. The spread of the Internet from computers to mobile devices has also offered non-profits with the ability to reach more users via different mediums. And finally the availability of large, ease to use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, has enabled the deployment of cheap, yet effective marketing campaigns—campaigns which once harnessed by expert volunteers through Media Cause’s platform can result in a high payoff for non-profits looking to raise money or spread awareness.
The Profit Potential
Media Cause is an early entrant into the non-profit marketing and advertising space. And while it is true that many of the advertising and marketing mechanisms that exist for for-profit companies are also available to non-profit companies, Media Cause is the only company that is entirely focused on affordable and efficient services for the non-profit niche market. Thus, the startup currently has few competitors and is way ahead of any would-be-competitors.
Interestingly, enough, at the moment, Media Cause is itself a non-profit organization. However, the startup has experimented with a few small revenue models including offering premium online marketing services to larger non-profits. It is entirely feasible for Media Cause to be run as a for-profit company by developing a whole line of services that scale all the way down to smaller non-profits and take more of a strategic consulting role in the marketing and advertising of non-profits rather than simply crowd sourcing much of the work to volunteers. In terms of exit opportunities, Media Cause could very easily be acquired by a larger advertising or marketing company (such as Pulse 360) or become the marketing/advertising arm of a non-profit strategic consulting firm (like Bridgespan).
To sum, Media Cause possesses all of the ingredients of a potentially very successful startup: an innovative product, the right market timing, growing demand, a clear competitive advantage, and feasible exit opportunities. I would love to be a shareholder in the company.