Since launching it last weekend, we’ve gotten a handful of questions from readers about our Support shawneemissionpost.com campaign. So we figured we’d take a few moments to address the issues that have come up most frequently:
Are the donations tax deductible?
Unfortunately, no. Because we are an S-Corp and not a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, donations made to the site are not tax deductible.
If you all are a private business, why are you asking for donations?
Well, we are, indeed, a private business. But we think that the coverage of northeast Johnson County we provide serves a significant public good. If you’ve followed the news business for the past several years, you’re probably aware that the traditional business model that newspapers relied on for decades is crumbling. Start up web-only news organizations like shawneemissionpost.com are trying to fill the gap that’s been left by the reduced newspaper coverage of local communities.
But there’s not a proven model for making sites like shawneemissionpost.com sustainable, longterm institutions. Some, unfortunately, have folded up shop even after years in operation. (Read this account of the shuttering of two sites in North Carolina for a sobering take on the industry).
Our advertisers have been glad to pay us to put their messages on the site because they want to reach our monthly audience of more than 60,000 unique visitors. But our readers get a lot of value from the site, too — and we’ve never charged anyone for access to our content. We think it’s important to keep the news accessible to anyone who wants to read it, but we also want to offer readers the chance to help support us financially if they value the service we provide.
The amazing thing about our readership is that nearly 20,000 of our monthly visitors come to the site more than 100 times over a 30-day period. We’re hoping the people who turn to us for the latest news on northeast Johnson County multiple times each day will see enough value in what we do to help us out.
How much are you all trying to raise?
Our goal is $30,000, which would represent about 20 percent of our annual operating budget. Back in the olden timey days when newspaper readership was very high, papers would generally plan to have 80 percent of their revenue come from advertising and 20 percent come from subscriptions. We think that’s a pretty good benchmark to shoot for.
What are you going to spend the money on?
The revenue we generate from the more than 100 local businesses that sponsor site is mostly enough to keep the lights on and allow us to pay ourselves something close to a living wage. But we don’t have enough money to invest in the new development and expansion that we’ll need to become self-sufficient for the long haul. We plan to use the money we generate from the donations campaign (nearly $7,000 from hundreds of readers already, which is AMAZING) to expand our sales operations, develop new revenue streams like merchandise sales, and seed a new hyperlocal site in a neighboring community.
If you don’t meet your fundraising goal, will you shut down?
No. We’re not in any danger of closing up shop anytime in the near future. But we don’t want to end up as another example of hyperlocal sites “not working.” That means we need to keep growing. And we need capital to invest in that growth. The most successful hyperlocal companies have found that they need a scale of four or five sites to become sustainable for the longterm. That’s where we’re headed.
Can I make a donation with a check, or do I have to give online?
We will gladly accept donations by check. Simply mail your gift to: Prairie Village Post, PO Box 8005, Prairie Village, Kan, 66208.
Otherwise, visit Supportshawneemissionpost.com today and make your donation — it just takes a minute.