Fundraising Fridays: What this costs

Fundraising Fridays: What this costs

Michele Ellson

It’s probably not news to you that the news industry is struggling in the bloody wake of skyrocketing costs, plummeting revenues and yet another avenue of delivery that has arguably undermined the primacy of (almost) everything that came before.

The last decade has seen wave after wave of journalists laid off and print newspapers shrink and more recently, disappear under the crushing weight of delivery and newsprint costs. One of our primary goals at The Alamedan is to reverse that trend and to make more news available. But as I’ve said before, doing that costs money. So the question you may have is, “How much?”

For one answer, let’s look at AOL’s Patch. According to the Wall Street Journal, AOL chief Tim Armstrong told investors in 2011 that the average Patch site costs between $150,000 and $200,000 – which translates into a total of $160 million for the 850 Patch sites AOL operates. A separate article on Patch’s ramp-up plans said the cost to run a site is 1/25 the amount it would cost to run a local paper in the same town.

The cost to run nonprofit local news sites that are up and running today varies, 2010 tax records show, with Oakland Local's expenses just shy of $92,000 for that year and Voice of San Diego's nearly $1.1 million.

Here at The Alamedan, we don’t have a big corporate backer like AOL (or a national ad market to draw from), which means we’ll have to raise most if not all of the money we need to run the site right here on the Island. But as a local, standalone site, we can produce the news for less than the figures the Journal cited for Patch.

Still, even a locally run website has costs.

A paid editor for this site (I’m volunteering this year) might earn $35,000 a year; with taxes and benefits, that’s $44,800. Our freelance budget is $10,000 – enough to buy nine to 10 stories and two live videos a month, plus a few photos. Insurance is $1,850; the laptop I bought (since my old one crashed), $1,400. Web hosting and web addresses were another $800 this year. Fundraising and office expenses (mailing envelopes, postage, pens and paper) will probably cost another $2,000. Throw in the fiscal sponsor services that allow us to be a nonprofit, and we’re looking at a budget of around $67,000.

I have truly been humbled by the support we have received so far. It lets me know that we are on the right track and that you value the service we are working to provide. We’ve made it close to 25 percent of the way toward our goal of raising $10,000 from individual donors so far this year, and I’m hopeful you find what we’re doing valuable enough to help push us closer to meeting it.

If you want to support this website, please click here to contribute. And please accept our sincerest thanks for your support.

And while we’re doling out thanks, I want to offer a big thank you to Jim Pruitt, Marilyn Pomeroy, Karen Butter, Diane Rizzo, Deni Adaniya, and board member Morton Chalfy for supporting The Alamedan this week. We can’t do this without you!