Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Doing a little word puzzle as the world burns
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.
Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Doing a little word puzzle as the world burns
“I started playing word games as a way to stop reading the news first thing in the morning.”
“Puzzles pair well with reading the news”: Why news outlets are getting into games (again)
“Some subscribers would rather game than sift through the wreckage. Can you blame them?”
Axios sells for $525 million, to a company that seemed to be getting out of the media business
Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises has spent the past decade selling off most of its media properties as it brings in billions from cable. So why dive back in?