ELi’s 2021 Fundraising: Worrisome Status and Outlook

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

East Lansing Info's Publisher Alice Dreger outside her backyard office in the Oakwood neighborhood.

Being incredibly pooped from managing both ongoing investigative reporting on the Center City District deal and nonstop fundraising for ELi, I’m going to be brief.

Every day, cities our size all over America are watching the lights go out on their local news organizations. They have lost having any local reporters steadily watching their city governments or school boards, carefully answering citizens’ questions, or meaningfully informing voters – no less investigating possible wrongdoing involving their taxes, their river, or their public safety systems. They don’t have an ELi.

Instead, what’s filling the gap in many of these cities is partisan propaganda pretending to be nonpartisan news.

The thought of having our city, East Lansing, be in the dark or be misled when it comes to facts is just too awful a thought.

But we cannot keep bringing you meaningful local reporting and investigative journalism at ELi unless we continue to have the financial support of the people. If we don’t see that, we will have to run down the funds we have and close down. I and the rest of the team will move on to other work.

That’s the starkest fact I can bring you today.

As of now, since November 1, we have raised just short of thirty percent of what we need to make it through 2021. We have raised $59,688 (including matching funds) towards our Dec. 31 goal of $200,000. Yes, we can run all of ELi if we have $200,000 secured for 2021.

The average donation size to this campaign has been $145, and individual donations have ranged from $5 to $3,000.

We have gained 93 new donors to ELi since November 1, which is very important. A lot of our long-time donors have either had to drop away or reduce their giving because they are local business people or local working people who are facing great economic uncertainty or in some cases tremendous hardship, and that means we have to keep gaining new supporters to survive ourselves.

As I’m watching our progress, I’m getting worried about these numbers – realizing that ELi, too, is a local business at risk in a college town shut down from a public health emergency. I wonder if ELi will survive this.

If you can give, now is the time. Here are options:

  • Give right now. If you can commit to a monthly donation, we can get a match at the ANNUAL rate. Commit to $20/month on your credit card, and we will get a $240 match. Every dollar counts.
  • Ask that your holiday gift be NPR’s Peter Sagal’s autographed memoir, The Incomplete Book of Running, which, when purchased through this special link for $50 nets ELi $35 and gets you a signed book from Peter with a personal thank-you card from me. Buy two or three and give them as gifts to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” fans, to runners, and to people going through hard times (which is what the book is really about).
  • Join our bucket brigade by collecting donations for a specific bucket. Consider offering a special match, which will turn your bucket into a triple-match bucket. (I’ve done this with my own neighborhood.)

I need your help now to keep this going for East Lansing. Thank you.

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