What does the fundraising coordinator role entail?
In this new role, I've had time to explore the development aspects of being a nonprofit newsroom. I work really closely with current editor-in-chief Casey Darnell to make sure we’re communicating the editorial staff’s financial needs clearly with people.
I’m seeking out grants; we had our first successful grant application this spring, with Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund during the pandemic. We just haven’t been structured to be able to take the time for grants and things like that.
How have The Daily Orange’s finances been affected by the pandemic?
Advertising has been tougher when businesses were closed. Local businesses are reopening but some are at limited capacity and some don’t have it in the budget to advertise with us. We’re trying to think a little more creatively about how we partner with businesses and approach advertising. We’re shifting more advertising to online and seeing if our advertisers want to do online packages.
People aren’t out and about going to class every day, so they may not walk by one of our stands as often. We had to cut one more day of print this semester, from three days per week to two days. Right now that’s temporary and our board of directors is hoping to bring that third paper back in the spring.
Tell me about the membership program and how the idea came about.
I worked closely this summer with our fundraising committee and we were talking about how we could improve our donation platform. Our donation site had been focused on our building move last fall, and there wasn’t an option to give monthly. The messaging was outdated; a lot has happened to the DO and the world.
We started researching nonprofit news outlets who do this really well, particularly The 19th*, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica. We couldn’t really model anything off a subscription-based site, because we want our content to always be free to all of our readers. We needed to frame this in a way that people know being a member means supporting the DO, but non-members can still read our content. It’s not a paywall.
One of our alumni on the fundraising committee was the one who first pitched a membership program. We dove into how we wanted to structure it and what the tiers would be. We want this program to be something that not only DO alumni but also students, parents, families, readers, would want to be a part of.
We also talked with our managing editor and editor-in-chief about how they want to better engage with the community. How can we create this sustained two-way relationship where they feel invested in our coverage and our work?