As We Come Down to the Wire, Answers to Your Questions about Our Sustainability Campaign

Tuesday, December 31, 2019, 9:12 am
By: 
Alice Dreger, Publisher

(Photo of ELi Publisher Alice Dreger by Harley J. Seeley.)

These are questions coming in from readers looking to donate as we approach our midnight matching funds deadline:

I can only give a little because I am on a fixed income. Do small donations really help? Yes! Having you in our donor rolls gets us a match and also counts towards metrics that matter to funders in terms of evidence of community support. So it really does help.

And please, never feel bad about "taking" a lot of news when you can't give much money in support. ELi is a public service, and the people who are able to donate a lot of money do so out of a strong belief that all should be able to benefit equally from our local news service, regardless of income level.

Is my donation tax deductible? ELi is an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization which means donations are tax deductible to whatever extent you can personally deduct a charitable contribution. Recent changes in the federal tax law mean many people can’t deduct as much in charitable contributions as they could in prior years. That’s one reason we’re having to work harder this year to raise what we will need for next year.

How late can I give for this campaign? If you give to ELi in 2020, your funds will still go to great use in bringing local news! But if you commit by midnight (New Year’s Eve), we can obtain matching funds for that commitment. Click here to give by credit card right now, and if you’re sending a check to ELi at P.O. Box 115, East Lansing MI 48826, please drop us a note so we know and can count it into our secured commitments.

Can I donate by PayPal? Yes! You can send a one-time donation via PayPal to publisher@eastlansinginfo.org. You can also sign up for a monthly commitment via PayPal by clicking here. Remember we can match your monthly commitment at the yearly rate.

If ELi hits the $125,000 goal, does that mean that’s how much ELi will have in the bank? No. The amount we are showing as “secured” includes donations plus the assumption that monthly commitments made by credit card and by check will continue throughout 2020. So we count a $10 monthly commitment as $120 towards our goal (few monthly donors drop off in a year) and as $240 if it is match-eligible.

Our current tally also shows the assumption that MetroNet will continue as our main-page supporter and Crunchy’s will continue as our weekly-mailer supporter. They have been great supporters!

Why is $125,000 your goal? We calculated that $125,000 plus the amount we had in the bank less our November and December expenses should be enough to cover our budget in 2020. That’s why we call this a “Sustainability Campaign” – because hitting the goal means achieving sustainability for the next year.

How can your expenses possibly be so low – about $140,000 currently for a whole local news operation? Several of us (like me) work as unpaid volunteers because we can and we so believe in ELi’s mission. Our reporters who aren’t volunteers are paid as freelancers. We have no physical office for ELi (we all work from home and coffee shops) and we keep administrative expenses as low as possible. We are very thrifty. You can see in this report what it cost to run ELi in the first-half of 2019.

How can ELi still have matching funds left if NewsMatch is capping its match at $20,000 per organization? Before our 2020 Sustainability Campaign and NewsMatch started on Nov. 1, I went to a group of core donors and asked them to put up as much as they could to raise our match cap well above $20,000.

They came through for us, understanding that we would not match their commitments but would use them as match dollars to motivate other donors. The local match dollars ultimately came to about $33,000.

Will all of the remaining match dollars become contributions if not enough money comes in to use them for matches? No. That’s why we want to make sure we hit the match cap. This morning, we have about $2,800 left in potential match dollars.

If I send a check dated “Dec. 31, 2019” in the next few days, is that okay? Yes, the IRS, NewsMatch, and our local donors will all let us count checks dated Dec. 31, 2019, and received in the next week or so as 2019 donations.

Click here to give by credit card right now, and if you’re sending a check to ELi at P.O. Box 115, East Lansing MI 48826, please drop us a note so we know.

Got a question? Contact us using our web-form or write to me at publisher@eastlansinginfo.org.

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