Fundraising Fridays: Building a model

Fundraising Fridays: Building a model

Michele Ellson

As we frantically worked to launch The Alamedan early this year, my former editor, mentor and (now) advisory board member Terry Winckler forwarded me a lengthy post from media prognosticator Clay Shirky on online newspaper paywalls. In it, Shirky offered an interesting statistic: About one in 100 of The New York Times’ readers pay for the news they’re getting from the paper online, while roughly one in 12 National Public Radio listeners contribute to their local affiliates for what they’re getting.

“Newspapers with thresholds now aspire to NPR’s persuasiveness,” Shirky wrote.

From the very beginning we decided to offer you the news we produce for free, because our mission is to help Alamedans be better engaged in civic affairs. But like the Times and news outlets everywhere else, we’re seeking a business model that will propel The Alamedan into a financially sound future.

Corporate sponsorships are one revenue stream we’ll be pursing, and grants another. But one of our most important efforts is building relationships with readers like you, and making sure we are offering you the news and information you want and need. founder David Cohn also had some thoughts on the Times’ paywall, which he saw as being a step toward NPR’s donor-driven journalism. He questioned whether The Times would provide readers with tote bags or other incentives to spur their investment in the newspaper’s services – or if they might set up a membership program that allowed the paper’s supporters to interact with each other or, as does, fund specific areas of reporting or stories.

That latter approach has been adopted by Voice of San Diego, which recently launched a new membership program that offers contributors access to more information, meet-and-greet events, the site’s speaker series and more. VOSD is also crowdfunding its fall election coverage; so far the site’s runners are halfway to their $25,000 goal.

We’ll be working on all of these things over the next year and beyond, and are happy to take your suggestions. What services would you like to see us offer?

A new way to give: Regular readers may remember a story we wrote a few months back on GiveGoods, a new website that offers rewards for donations to an array of local causes. Well, we at The Alamedan thought the site was such a great idea that we’ve signed up. You can now earn a variety of coupons for 25 to 50 percent off food, wine, merchandise and services at a host of local businesses in exchange for your contribution; our page is here. To contribute directly to the site, click here.

Upcoming events: Next Friday, August 10 you can catch me at the final Concerts at the Cove, which gets underway at 5:30 p.m. at Crab Cove. Pre-show entertainment gets underway an hour earlier, to be followed by a battle of the bands. We’ll be there to collect your suggestions, story ideas and donations, and we’re happy to sign you up for our free daily e-mail blast too. More on our Cove appearance next week.

Also, the fine folks at Angela’s Bistro and Bar have hooked us up with a November 2 Friday Night Flights fundraiser, and we’d love to see you there! They’re offering two glasses of wine for just $10, and the all of the proceeds support The Alamedan. We’ll be happy to dish election news with you too, so save the date.

This week’s thank-yous: This week we want to extend a big thank you to Steve Gerstle, who answered last week’s Fundraising Friday request. Along with our gratitude, Steve’s contributions to our efforts have earned him one of our brand-new Alamedan Ts.