By Matt DeRienzo, LMA Consultant | April 8, 2020
Through participation in the COVID-19 Local News Fund program, independent and family-owned publishers are connecting with community donors who are eager to support local reporting in an unprecedented time.
Since its launch less than two weeks ago, collective contributions to the COVID-19 Local News Fund now total more than $48,000 from 688 individuals. Donations have ranged from $10 to $2,000, with an average donation of about $70. It’s an encouraging start, considering most campaigns are just getting underway and/or haven’t really been promoted yet.
One thing that has stood out this week has been the comments donors left on individual publication fundraising pages:
“We subscribe, but $5 a month isn’t enough for what you are providing in local news and insight – thanks for this opportunity to help out!” (Salem Reporter)
“Thank you for being a familiar, grounding, reliable source of information. You continue to bring us together while we are physically apart.” (Concord Monitor)
“NDN, now NN, is something we cannot afford to lose. They have been recording our history for over one hundred years and reading the print version is the first thing I do when I get home (even though I get the mid-day headlines feed). Subscribe, advertise – do what you can.” (Newton Daily News)
“Local news is key to a successful democracy. Thank you for what you do.” (Concord Monitor)
“You provide an essential service to our community and as advertising revenues decline due to the coronavirus, it’s even more important for readers to step up. Thanks for your good work.” (VillageGreenNJ.com)
“We are devout readers of The Examiner. A publication like this is a necessity in our small local communities. Rarely do we go into Starbucks, the barber shop or the lobby at the Jacob Burns without seeing people engrossed in an issue. We are proud to support a paper based on integrity and a generous community spirit.” (The Examiner)
This can’t be said enough: Readers, community members and ex-pats appreciate the value of local news in this critical moment in history, and want to help publishers get through this. Local news organizations only have to ask to gain that support.
Fundraising tip: Enlist your staff
The two local news organizations with the largest fundraising totals so far have both enlisted their staff in making the case.
The Examiner newspapers of New York’s Westchester and Putnam counties raised $10,000 in three days, kickstarted by an empassioned personal appeal from the publisher. The Examiner also asked each employee to email people they thought might donate, and staff of The Day of New London, Connecticut, has been making the case on social media. Journalists and other news organization employees have both a personal following of readers who appreciate and want to support what they do, as well as friends and family who are deeply concerned about the survival of local journalism.
Involving the staff has a side benefit. It can be a huge, and much-needed, morale boost for your employees to see the donations come in and the messages of support that accompany them.
And because it can’t be said enough, note that another driver of The Day’s success right out of the gate on Monday was a direct appeal for the campaign to its newsletter email list.
“Today we are asking for your help to sustain local reporting in our community. These are unprecedented times and we are working around-the-clock to provide the best possible coverage, sometimes taking risks to keep New London County informed. In the meantime, we’ve had massive cuts to our revenue stream as we, like other local businesses, are at a critical moment,” the Day wrote in its email. If you believe local news and information is critical, especially during this crisis, please donate to this new fund to help keep us on the job. Your contributions will help us continue to cover the pandemic and its impact on the communities, organizations and businesses of southeastern Connecticut.”