HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Ken Doctor: Why The New York Times hired Kinsey Wilson
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 17, 2009, 7:40 a.m.

MinnPost seeks “micro-sponsors” for blog at $10 and $25 a pop

Readers may never pay for news online, but perhaps they’ll micro-sponsor it.

MinnPost, the non-profit news startup in Minneapolis, has found modest success asking readers to “micro-sponsor” the site’s most popular blog with donation’s of $10 and $25 a pop. Since the appeal began a week ago, 127 people have donated a total of $2,575, which will be doubled by a matching gift from The Harnisch Foundation.

Those figures won’t bowl anyone over, but they could point toward a long-term fundraising model for non-profit news organizations that generally depend on large grants from foundations. Joel Kramer, editor and publisher of MinnPost, told me that he’s trying to reduce the 18-month-old site’s reliance on foundation support by growing revenue from readers and advertisers.

MinnPost has never turned down a donation for being too small but always asked for at least $50 from its 1,300 members. With this new fundraising drive, Kramer hopes to reach readers who may have balked at higher levels of giving. “This micro-sponsorship was partly to test a lower price point,” he said in an interview yesterday.

The appeal is focused on reporter David Brauer’s BrauBlog, which features a mix of local media news and Minnesota politics. Readers who give $10 become LowBrau micro-sponsors, while $25 is HighBrau. The Harnisch Foundation is matching up to $10,000 raised within three months.

Kramer said he chose BrauBlog for the fundraising drive because Brauer has a “dedicated, steady audience” — about 1,000 readers for an average post. However, Brauer, in the name of objectivity, requested that he not be told the names of his micro-sponsors. “Something about Caesar’s wife,” Kramer explained in a post introducing the effort last Tuesday.

Micro-sponsorship could prove to be an important test of the “1,000 true fans” concept floated by Wired’s Kevin Kelly last year: Can an enterprise be sustained on the backs of its most passionate supporters?

Kramer told me he’s also considering “micro-funding a beat” at MinnPost if the results from BrauBlog are encouraging. But the model may never be more effective or efficient than traditional fundraising focused on memberships and large donations. “The thing I keep reminding people is that it’s all experimental,” Kramer said, “and we’re going to try whatever seems promising.”

POSTED     March 17, 2009, 7:40 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Ken Doctor: Why The New York Times hired Kinsey Wilson
The former chief content officer at NPR will be moving up I-95 to one of the most important digital positions at the Times.
Why Google is taking another shot at helping readers pay for news
Google Contributor is the latest tool the company has designed to help readers pay for what they read online. But its previous experiments in supporting paid content have had limited success.
In Canada, newspapers’ attempts to experiment with ebooks haven’t seen much success
A number of papers across the country started ebook programs in the early part of this decade, repurposing their archives or producing new work. They haven’t been the moneymakers some had hoped.
What to read next
718
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
540Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
502Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Foreign Policy
Frontline
The Weekly Standard
Wired
PBS NewsHour
West Seattle Blog
The Guardian
Spot.Us
Mashable
Zonie Report
Gannett
MediaBugs