ELi Seeks Tax-Deductible Year-End Contributions to Continue Public Service News

Saturday, December 30, 2017, 4:10 pm
Alice Dreger, Publisher of ELi

As you may have heard, the new federal tax plan is going to make it harder for many people to itemize deductions, so if you’re planning to help ELi in 2018 and you can itemize for 2017, you might want to make a tax-deductible lump-sum donation today. It’s easy:

  • To donate by credit card, click here, and choose option 2, and do it by midnight on December 31, 2017. This generates an immediate receipt and we’ll also send you a receipt from ELi in January.
  • To donate by check, date the check no later than December 31, 2017. Make it payable to “ELi” and mail it to P.O. Box 115, East Lansing, MI 48826. We will send you a receipt in January.

Perhaps like me, you sometimes ask yourself what East Lansing would be like without ELi. Here’s my take:

In the event ELi can’t continue its work throughout 2018, we’ll still have whatever leaders of our local governments choose to put out in terms of news and information. We’ll still have whatever pick-up East Lansing stories regional news organizations like the LSJ and the City Pulse can afford to provide. We’ll still have what people post in terms of opinions and information on Public Response, Facebook, and Next Door. All of that does add up to some information (and a fair bit of shared opinions).

What the community won’t have is an organization specifically focused on sending people to key East Lansing government and school district meetings and to do investigative reporting in order to provide deep, ongoing, reliable, nonpartisan coverage of local news that matters.

We won’t have anything like what we have now in terms of schools, development, business, tax, zoning, and law enforcement reporting.

What we won’t have is nonpartisan reporting on election and ballot issues, a place to “Ask ELi” to find out what we want to know, or a way for high schoolers, stay-at-home parents, and senior citizens to participate as citizen-reporters for an organization that has a steady—and steadily smart and engaged—readership.

The ELi team has been actively explaining for our readers why ELi needs about $100,000 in commitments to ensure we can do the local news reporting you’ve come to expect in 2018. We’ve explained that costs are going steadily up in terms of reporting, getting our work out to our readers, and keeping our website safe from hackers. I wish these costs weren’t going up. But they are, and it stresses me out looking at those numbers, believe me.

Additionally, while I am not paid for the service I help provide to the community via ELi, frankly, I do need to hire more part-time help managing the team’s work, because our organization has been successful enough that we now have more complicated accounting and distribution systems for the news the team produces for you.

Those of us doing the organizational work of ELi can’t keep adding to our plates; we need helpers. ELi has become a major local public service organization since we launched in 2014, and that requires focused management that takes a lot of time.

If we do not reach our goal of $100,000 by our Sustainability deadline of January 31, 2018, I can assure you, we will work as long as we can for you in 2018 with the funds we do raise. Right now, if you look at the graph above, that looks like we get to about the half-way mark in 2018, but that is not actually the case because the commitment number there includes monthly commitments that are not “money in the bank” and would end if we need to shut down.

Fundraising is not what I or my team want to be doing. We came to this organization to provide local news, not to bug you for money.

So I’m hoping to see a surge before the end of the year. I hope we have done a good enough job for you to convince you this public service is worth supporting. When I look at the amazing and consistently high-quality reporting of people like Karessa Wheeler on the School Board, Chris Root on budget and finance, Jessy Gregg on the income tax proposal and City Council, Ann Nichols on marijuana, Val Thonger and Ken Sperber on our community calendar, and our high school “cubs” on government, schools, arts, and so, so much more, I am personally astonished at what this group accomplishes on so very little money.

Help out if you can, to the extent you can, please:


Thank you.