The Alamedan's $20,000 Challenge: The state of nonprofit news

The Alamedan's $20,000 Challenge: The state of nonprofit news

Michele Ellson

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study on the economic health of nonprofit news outlets, which the folks at Pew deemed a “growing but fragile” part of the nation’s news system. In their survey of 172 nonprofit news organizations – including The Alamedan – Pew’s researchers found that most were optimistic about the future, despite facing substantial challenges to their economic well-being.

More than half of the 93 organizations that completed a detailed survey said they needed more staff to handle business, fundraising and marketing, while nearly two-thirds said finding time to attend to those tasks was a major challenge. Some 61 percent of the organizations said they got started with the aid of a major grant, grants most don’t expect will be renewed when the money runs out.

We here at The Alamedan view the rise of the Web and its attendant proliferation of new tools as a tremendous opportunity to both restore a critical service that’s being lost as traditional news outlets decline and to improve on what you were getting before. But the new media landscape offers a host of challenges, fundraising primary among them.

“It seems to us that sustainability, meaning very little dependence on grant funding, is a long way off,” one survey participant said.

Like most of the organizations surveyed, we are seeking out ways to diversify our revenue streams, though like most, we rely heavily on contributions from readers like you to keep the news coming. And we’re working hard to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.

On a budget of less than $20,000 a year, we’re working to provide you more than 10 unique local news stories or informational items each week, including video, quick-hit graphics and data – a mix that few of the digital news outlets surveyed by Pew provided. (In contrast, recent stories on AOL’s Patch websites said the budget for each site averages between $140,000 and $180,000 a year.)

If you like what you’re getting here and would like to see The Alamedan continue providing it, you can support us by contributing online or sending a check to fiscal sponsor Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104. Your support will earn you a public thank-you in next month’s fundraising post and a place on our donor list. If you contribute $100 or more – which is less than the cost of a one-year subscription to either the Chronicle or the Oakland Tribune – you’ll also get a limited-edition Alamedan T-shirt.

Thanks for supporting The Alamedan, your online news source. And feel free to contact me with questions, comments and suggestions at