Today we are announcing the transition of NonDoc’s intended IRS tax status from for-profit to nonprofit as part of a plan to achieve long-term sustainability. This change will allow us to pursue large grants, donations and partnerships that have been unavailable to us previously.
For 2020, we will stop the sale of advertising and pursue charitable sponsorships instead, much like NPR stations and other nonprofit publications. Our Writers’ Fund program for individual giving will continue and expand, hopefully with supporters of our independent journalism making tax-deductible contributions to the extent their particular financial circumstances and tax laws will allow. (Donors may want to consult their own tax advisors.)
To execute our next step in NonDoc’s growth, we have filed paperwork to create the Sustainable Journalism Foundation, DBA NonDoc Media. The foundation’s goal will be to establish consistent funding streams and avoid fluctuations in our newsroom’s budget.
Instead of being a co-owner of NonDoc Media, LLC, I will be a board member of the new Sustainable Journalism Foundation while continuing my role as NonDoc editor in chief. Four other supporters will serve initial terms on the foundation’s board of directors, and we will be involving additional talented community members on fundraising and readership committees.
Other pages on the site have been or are being updated to reflect these changes, and we hope to have new semantics and details fully in place after returning from a brief holiday break. While we will not sell “funded content” advertorials as a nonprofit, past funded content pieces will remain labeled as such in our archives.
Some banner advertisements will remain displayed and labeled as such on the site through Dec. 31, owing to previous contractual obligations.
How do we ensure ‘sustainable’ journalism?
America’s entire journalism industry is asking that question. To us in 2020, sustainability will mean increasing two things: financial certainty and editorial capacity.
For our newsroom, a sustainable capacity to conduct community and political journalism in Oklahoma’s news ecosystem will involve several key steps forward:
- Hiring a full-time managing editor at a competitive salary (job posting here);
- The ability to offer employee benefits;
- Taking a reasonable salary for my work running the site;
- Obtaining gifts and grant support to hire more journalists;
- Expanding our paid internship program;
- Exploring new content distribution partnerships and efforts.
Each of those 2020 initiatives will allow NonDoc to more easily continue the work we are already doing, and those steps will allow us to meet more coverage needs across Oklahoma in coming years.
But doing all of that will require your ongoing help, dear reader. In 2019, you helped us increase our annual revenue significantly compared to prior years. Now we will be asking existing supporters to continue their same generosity in 2020 while we pursue the larger donations and grants available to nonprofit newsrooms.
So starting today, we are launching our 2020 fundraising goal of $250,000. With our paperwork filed this month to become a nonprofit, we want to make sure you are aware of our ability to receive end-of-year donations, should that be appealing to you at this time.
Our 2020 fundraising drive will ramp up after the start of the year, beginning with attempts to transition past advertising clients into sponsorship designations. So far, reception to our shift has been positive, and we recognize charitable donations may more accurately reflect the motivations of some of those who chose to advertise with us in the past.
On a similar note, our team will enjoy not trying to sell advertising packages to political campaigns during #Election2020. As always, financial contributions will not be accepted from sitting elected officials.
Make a donation today:
Our 2020 focus
Transitioning NonDoc Media to a nonprofit endeavor means a few other changes as well. Former site co-owners Rosemary Meacham-Zittel and Ashiq Zaman helped enable our newsroom’s work for years and will continue to support our mission, but our Sustainable Journalism Foundation will now be governed by a board of directors. Initial members include:
- Myself, a founding team member who has been with the site since its 2015 launch;
- Michael Duncan, a journalist, attorney, donor to and writer for NonDoc since launch;
- Jim Quillen, a retired certified public accountant with employment, finance and tax experience;
- Victoria Still, a marketing specialist and social media expert;
- Hossein Dabiri, an attorney and NonDoc donor;
In planning our launch of the Sustainable Journalism Foundation, many others have also expressed their willingness to help. As a result, we are forming committees designed to assist with fundraising efforts and readership initiatives, such as partnerships, content distribution and community outreach.
But for 2020, our team’s primary focus will be straightforward:
- Provide thorough coverage of the annual Oklahoma legislative session (starting Feb. 3);
- Cover Oklahoma’s 2020 election cycle in a fair, comprehensive and informative way;
- Meet our fundraising goal;
We will also continue to publish commentary from diverse voices, and we will continue to publish reader responses to items published on NonDoc. Ultimately, we intend for the work we have been doing these past four years to expand. First, however, we must ensure the sustainability of our operations.
So, if you can, would you consider contributing to our 2020 fundraising goal today? If you have questions about how gifts will be recorded, reported and disclosed, please reach out. We intend to explain greater details about our long-term sustainable framework in January. While we may pursue a different way to process donations, please find our PayPal account active and our address here for those who might prefer to mail checks.
NonDoc has always existed because of and to inform those who consume our content. Please know that your time and support are valued, and we thank you for reading.