By Julia Campbell • Branded Content Project Manager
Asking for donations is a new world for many publishers. As many news organizations explore donations as a possible way to fund their operations, we’re all learning from those taking successful steps in this area.
The COVID-19 Local News Fund is a program administered by the Local Media Foundation (LMF), a 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Local Media Association. The purpose of the program is to increase coverage of COVID-19 issues in local communities. This allows independent and family-owned news organizations to solicit tax-deductible community donations to support and increase their coverage of the crisis.
We asked one of the publishers participating in the COVID-19 Local News Fund, Michael Moses, publisher of Daily Hampshire Gazette, Greenfield Recorder, Athol Daily News, Hampshire Life, Amherst Bulletin, and Valley Advocate, how the Daily Hampshire Gazette went from $0 to over $22,000 in a short amount of time. His publications have raised over $30,000 collectively, and their company, the Newspapers of New England, has raised over $60,000.
1) Why was it important for you and your organization to start a campaign program to raise funds for your COVID-19 coverage?
Covid-19 will most likely be the single most important story of our generation. The economic stress that this pandemic has placed on our organization requires us to aggressively manage expenses to ensure long term sustainability. This fund will help us provide the depth of coverage our readers expect and require to help them stay safe, healthy, and well informed.
2) Tell us about your promotional and marketing strategy so far.
Our campaign has been driven primarily through direct appeals from me, to readers, on multiple platforms. This includes two letters to readers in all pioneer valley publications, in print, online, within our app, and through email. We have also published a thank you ad which includes a note from me to readers, along with a number of the personal notes of supports from folks that donated. We’ll publish an updated version weekly.
3) Have you had any powerful comments from a donor?
Michael thought it would be better to show you –
4) Can you give us an idea of how you may use the funds?
We’re working on that now. I expect that it will provide us the resources for a series of enterprise style stories exploring the many angles of this crisis.
5) What advice would you give to a publisher considering opening up a campaign?
Advice? Communicate with readers directly, with honesty, and passion. This has been a great experience and is reminding me everyday, why we do what we do.