Better Than Facebook, Twitter, and Jeb!


The long holiday weekend will probably be light on news for me to blog about—no Saturday night Democratic debates this week!—so I figured I’d make another pitch and give you an update on our December fundraising campaign.

As I  wrote a couple weeks ago, Monika and Clara put together an interesting piece on the state of paying for journalism in the digital age and how our model of reader support makes us pretty darn unique. Here’s an excerpt:

December is a really critical fundraising month for nonprofits like us. But, like you, we are kind of tired of the usual gimmicks that get trotted out around this time—HELP! We’ll go dark if you don’t pitch in! It’s actually true (more on that later), but it doesn’t really appeal to your intelligence.

So we had this idea: What if we tried something different? What if we actually showed you how the sausage is made: transparently explaining the challenges of paying for journalism in the digital age and going into detail about how reader support makes Mother Jones possible?

We want you to understand what reader support is—donations of all sizes, subscriptions, even telling your friends about us—and how it fits into our budget. We think being transparent about the challenges publishers face will make it more compelling for you to support Mother Jones. The first step is this December fundraising campaign.

Our target for December is $200,000. If everyone who visits the site this month gives 2.5 cents, we’re done. If everyone who visits today gives 40 cents, we’re done. If 40,000 people—less than 2 percent of our monthly visitors—each give the price of a latte, we’re done.  Are you one of them?

Well, the good news is that they say it seems to be working. I mean, 40,000 people haven’t donated the price of a latte yet—but as of Wednesday afternoon, 2,979 people had donated an average gift of $41.77 (10 lattes?) for a total of $124,428 raised this month. They also say it’s going to be a nail-biter, and we’re quite literally banking on last-minute donations coming in over the next week to get us over the hump.

And this is the part I find really fascinating—understanding how the internet works for fundraising and where all of those donations are coming from. Between my first post and my experiment interjecting some asks into my GOP debate live blog two weeks ago, the good folks who read this page have donated $6,296, or 5 percent of the total. Not too shabby at all.

Emails to our newsletter subscribers are typically the workhorse, and this year they’ve raised 29 percent of the revenue. Not far behind it, the two “donate” links you see at the top of every page have raised 24%, and those “overlay” ads that appear over the top of our articles when you visit the site have raised 21 percent. Monika and Clara’s piece accounts for 16 percent. Those are the big sources of donations. Facebook and Twitter? A bit here and there, but not so much—and not that different than Jeb Bush’s campaign: So full of promise on day one, but stuck in the low single digits.

I’m delighted to know the folks who read this blog donate more than Facebook and the Twitterverse—and the truth is, several of you have probably made donations through one of those other ways listed above. So thanks to everyone who has already donated.

If you haven’t made a tax-deductible, year-end gift yet, please consider doing so now via credit card or PayPal—we don’t want to let Facebook or Twitter catch us, do we?