ELi Achieves Sustainability

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 8:25 am
Alice Dreger, Publisher

You’ll notice the lack of exclamation point at the end of that headline. It’s not that I’m not feeling exclamatory. (I sure am!!) It is that—as one of our fundraising supporters said this week while encouraging others to support our work—ELi is “almost painfully objective.”

So allow me to be painfully objective, even as I bask in happiness and gratitude that we have such broad and deep community support for the work of the ELi team:

With a sudden influx of donations in the last 48 hours of East Lansing Info’s sustainability campaign, thanks in part to our anonymous matching donor, ELi achieved its goal . . . and then some. We now have donations and pledges totaling over $50,000 for 2017, allowing us to operate at full strength for the rest of this year.

We believe that with this achievement, we will be able to keep the momentum going and continue this service indefinitely, so long as we maintain your trust.

About 275 people stepped forward during the campaign. They donated via PayPal, Patreon, and by check, with some providing their full year’s pledge up front and others opting for a set monthly donation.

This fundraising achievement means we can focus on our mission: bringing you accurate, nonpartisan, clear, timely news of East Lansing. We are ready, willing, and able to do that.

It also means we can now convene a Community Advisory Board and work on expanding our young-person reporter base, as we develop a summer program for professionally mentoring local high school students interested in journalism.

News sources that aim to be non-editorial and nonpartisan are pretty rare these days. Rarer still are organizations like this one that are a hybrid of volunteer and paid workers. Still rarer are those that survive almost entirely on reader support.

What we’ve achieved together is not just a community cooperative of local news of high quality. What we’ve also achieved is a consensus about the importance of finding out and sharing facts about our local world.

We’ve come to a communal understanding that bad news is worth paying for. And that’s really good news.

I would like to thank all of the people who helped make this possible—particularly the core fundraising group of Chris Root, Ken Sperber, and Val Thonger—as well as the people who provided personal stories of support for ELi, including Karessa Wheeler, Bobby Mavrogordato, Jessy Gregg, and Jim Detjen. We also benefitted significantly from the help of people who worked their own circles to get us more support. (I would name them but I’m not sure they all want to be named here, so: you know who you are, and thank you!)

My colleagues on the Board of Directors—Travis Stoliker, Stephen Thomas, and Mike Lawrence—have been wonderfully supportive throughout this challenging time. Our tech managers, Morgan Lees and Lisa Lees, have been patient and responsive as we’ve needed help with various projects, including setting up the PayPal monthly system and changing out the map for the grid.

Finally, I would especially like to thank our Managing Editor Ann Nichols who had to wonder this whole time whether she would have this job at the end of this process. While we don’t pay Ann what she’s worth, she is absolutely invaluable to ELi. As I’ve told her, her reward in heaven will be great. She has told me, in response, that that reward will consist of being allowed to write editorials non-stop. I like that image. (We both know I’ll be in hell, objectively reporting.)

Thank you, all. And just one more request: As always, please send us your tips and your feedback. We’re here to be a public service, so we need you to guide us.

Now I have to go write two reports for you from City Council.


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