Leaders stress building community to increase financial support by readers
Three newsroom leaders stressed the importance of building community ties to increase financial support that sustains their work. But they
LION Summit coverage by Andy Hall, WisconsinWatch.org
Three newsroom leaders stressed the importance of building community ties to increase financial support that sustains their work.
But they also acknowledged the difficulty in finding the resources to conduct that outreach.
Wendy Cohen, advertising director of Berkeleyside, said the for-profit organization offers memberships which have grown steadily and now account for 20 percent of revenue. About 1,000 people have signed up so far. Donors receive modest benefits — invitations to attend an annual members’ party and discounts on tickets to events such as the annual Berkeley Festival of Ideas.
"The pushback has been very minimal," Cohen said, from people who question why a for-profit newsroom would seek donations.
Berkeleyside, she said, would like to create salons or small events.
"We just haven't been able to do it all," Cohen said. "The to-do list is scary."
Charlotte-Anne Lucas, head of NOWCastSA, said her nonprofit organization's mission calls for it to to boost civic engagement. It identified an important need — helping nonprofits collaborate on scheduling of their events by creating a user-generated calendar. That builds goodwill with the staffs of the nonprofits, she said.
Less than 10 percent of the newsroom's revenue comes from individual donations, Lucas said. Its membership program is just now getting off the ground.
Lauren Fuhrmann, associate director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, said the nonprofit organization is building its individual donor base, striving to have several "touches" every year with each donor through letters, emails and events. It doesn't have a formal membership program.
About 200 people donate to WCIJ, she said. Individual donations account for less than 10 percent of WCIJ's revenue, she said, and the amount has grown significantly in recent years.
Among tools used for member communication and donor management, Mailchimp, Eventbrite, NeonCRM, Capsule and Kindful, were mentioned.
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