For-Profit Philanthropy Blogging

How big is the audience for philanthropy blogs? B5media thinks the audience is real and valuable to advertisers.

With more than 290 blogs, 15 vertical channels and over 10 million unique visitors a month, b5media offers advertisers a large, loyal and growing audience for companies looking to promote their brands and products.

Those 290 blogs include blogs like Hot Mama Daily, Teen Style Lounge, Copyblogger, Pimp Your Work, and Britney Groupie. B5media sells ads on these blogs and the bloggers are paid to write the content.

The newest b5media blog is The 501(c) Files. Introducing the blog in his first post, author Tom Durso wrote:

I worked in higher education for a decade, and now, as a freelancer, I do contract work for universities and other nonprofits, and I’ve seen firsthand the sweat and effort that go into making those institutions run well. Just because an organization doesn’t produce a quarterly income statement doesn’t mean it can ignore the need for such basics as strategic-minded senior leadership, sound fiscal policies, and effective management.

What makes nonprofits unique is their focus on mission, not revenue. But many of the same strategies and tactics used by the corporate world to make Wall Street happy can and should be used by schools, charities, foundations, hospitals, and the like to create value for their unique stakeholders.

With an M.B.A. and a background in nonprofits, I like to explore the intersection of mission and business. And I enjoy putting the lie to the perception that the only people working hard are the ones struggling to push a share price up by 25 cents.

So welcome to the 501(c) Files, b5media’s new blog on the role of nonprofits in today’s business world.

Intrigued by the idea of a for-profit philanthropy blog I wrote Tom who quickly responded to my questions:

Why did you start 501c Files?

The 501(c) Files — or, more specifically, a blog about the business end of nonprofits — was not my idea, but b5media’s. They advertised for a blogger, and I liked the idea because I spent 10 years doing communications for higher education. So I answered the ad, provided some clips, gave them a sample post or two, and here I am.

Why does b5 think this is a profitable vertical?

As I noted, I’m not a b5 employee, so you’d have to ask them that. My sense is b5 has noticed that nonprofits are delivering an increasing array of services and enjoying greater and greater visibility. Some of them have become quite large and comprehensive. And the issues affecting nonprofits, regardless of their size and scope, are often similar to those impacting for-profit organizations.

In other words: There’s an audience there for a well written and useful nonprofit blog. And where there’s an audience, there will be advertisers who want to reach them.

What’s your background?

My b5 bio is at; you can also find more at my website,

How do you get paid?

I consider that a private matter between me and b5media. Thanks for understanding.

Who are you targeting as advertisers?

Beats me — that’s b5’s purview, not mine.

I imagine that some readers might think the concept of for-profit philanthropy blogging misses the point. I don’t. Todd Cohen runs ads on his Inside Philanthropy blog. Lucy Bernholz, Jeff Brooks, Susan Herr and I all have indirect monetary incentives for blogging (speaking on my behalf, I’ve brought in new clients at Ensemble Capital as a direct result of this blog). Is there something more pure about a blog without ads? I don’t think so. If Tom can add valuable commentary to the sector and he and b5media can both make money in the process, I say bravo. As Susan Raymond might say, we are at the End of Definitions and the line between for-profit and nonprofit activity is blurring.


  1. Somehow, to me, making an issue about making money from philanthropy blogging is ridiculous. People who work for foundations get paid. People who work for nonprofits get paid. Fundraisers get paid. So do all sorts of other consultants who serve foundations and nonprofits. How do you politely say, this is the ultimate “non-issue.”

  2. I agree that it should not be an issue, but it will be one. Most people don’t think that nonprofit employees should be paid as much as their for-profit counterparts, so I would argue the same issue exists there as well.

    At the end of the day, Tom will be judged by the content he produces, but I promise he’ll take heat for a while.

    I think the more interesting issue is that 1 year ago, I don’t think that philanthropy blogging as a category was a viable vertical for b5media. So the launch of 501c File is an interesting indicator of the growth we’ve seen in the last 12 months.

  3. Rob Johnston says:

    Further to the non-issue point, has had a nonprofit section [] since at least 2000 (according to the Internet Archive*/

    Thus, for more than seven years About’s subject editors have served like commercial bloggers. They post news and announcements of relevance and write articles on topics of interest to nonprofits. I believe the editors are and have been paid in some proportion to the traffic and advertising clicks they generate. The entry of b5 five into this area seems like old news to me.

  4. Interesting point Rob. I think the difference is that About is not really part of the conversation. I’ve never seen them comment on a philanthropy blog I read and I’ve never seen any of the philanthropy blogs post about an About blog entry.

    Note that Tom Durso has already be interacting with other bloggers. You can see why the b5media venture is news when you stop to think what the reaction would be if Phil Cubeta at Gift Hub started running banner ads. It would be the talk of the philanthropy blogosphere!