Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Orcinus fundraiser

-- by Dave

Fund-raisers can be something of a mixed bag -- simultaneously inspiring and deflating, especially when you're like me and really don't care for certain things required of people who use them as the revenue sources for their blogs. Things like rattling your tin cup and bugging your friends and acquaintances.

But the donations themselves are always an inspiration. It's pretty amazing, really, that people send money to total strangers whose work they read and, evidently, like, and can get for free if they like. And no matter how many times I do this, I can't quite get over being amazed by people's generosity.

Thing is, I've never quite taken it as seriously as I need to. The first few times it happened, there were actual events around it (notably publishing my essays in PDF form) that were the inspiration, and I just kind of hung my cup out and was pleasantly surprised by how much people were willing to toss back in.

So this year I hung the cup out there again, but the best angle to hang it on was the fact that I've been at this for five years now -- not exactly a barn-burner. And I also decided not to bug my friends and colleagues in the blogosphere to send their readers my way.

I suppose it was predictable, then, that the results so far have been fairly tepid -- especially since I got caught up enough in my responses to Jonah Goldberg that I let the fund-raiser reminder just slide for awhile. To date, we've pulled in $2,638.39 -- a healthy amount, really, but definitely off previous years.

The donations themselves, at the same time, have been a real source of inspiration. Some people really stepped up to the plate, including one of my favorite congressional candidates.

And the one shout-out we got -- from Jesse Wendel at Group News Blog -- was so flattering and kind that we were blown away.

Unfortunately, however, the raw numbers of total donors is sharply down this year, along with the total so far. All of which is part of my ongoing assessment of whether to continue with the fund-raiser model for revenue generation at Orcinus.

But then, just as I was thinking the whole thing was going bust, I was inspired by an unlikely source: our counterparts at the World's Most Asinine Blog, Red State, who decided that the best way to get their readers to dip into their wallets is to scare them with liberal bogeymen, including those eeeeeevil software devs. Oh, and anyone donating tiny amounts through PayPal? Ve haf your numbers now, commie scum! (Dr. Biobrain has more.)

And the drive -- which started at about the same time as mine -- was such a stunning success that, when I last saw a graphic displaying the total (this was on Jan. 15), it sat somewhere south of $700. Meanwhile, over here -- with our puny little staff of two people, contrasted with the WMAB's cast o'thousands -- we were at that point already near the $2,000 mark.

This in fact told me something: That we're doing a lot of things right here at Orcinus, and people appreciate it. But fund-raising isn't one of them. We were able to easily outpace RedState without seriously trying -- which raises the question, why aren't you seriously trying?

Now, the last we heard from RedState (on Jan. 11) on this, Erick indicated that they were just a little shy of hitting $10,000 -- though in fact, on the 14th, their graphic showed quite a bit less than that amount. And since then? Nary a word for those RedState donors on just how well that drive went.

Mind you, I would have no reason whatsoever for getting some satisfaction out of this. Indeed -- there will be no petty references to revenge, cold dishes, whatever, in these parts. Nosiree. Uh-uh.

Though for awhile, I toyed with the idea of making a head-to-head competition out of our respective fund-raisers. ("Go killer whales! Eat Red State!") Woulda been kind of fun, dontcha think?

In the end, I decided not to, because it's really just another gimmick that isn't much about what this blog is all about. Much as I might like to sit all day and make fun of idiotic right-wing sites -- a truly target-rich environment -- it's not the best use of my resources.

As I've explained, I have my reasons for sticking with the fund-raising model for a revenue stream from Orcinus, including an antipathy to advertising, both professional and aesthetic, and an insistence on maintaining the journalistic integrity of the site. It does, however, require that I do things I really don't have much stomach for, including hitting my colleagues up for links and donations. And it also requires I keep readers updated, and send thanks to my many donors.

So if I'm going to give this revenue model a decent chance, I need to engage it properly. Thus, I've decided to extend the fund-raiser for one more week -- and this time, my friends and colleagues will be getting asked to help out.

However, there are still some things I won't do:
-- I won't threaten anyone who donates.

-- I won't tell my readers that only I, the great Killer Whale, stand between them and certain right-wing doooooom!

-- And I won't blame the devs at Blogger if it doesn't work out so hot.

In the meantime, if you've already donated, many thanks -- you'll be hearing from me personally -- and consider spreading the word.

If you haven't, please think about the value that Orcinus provides the blogosphere and the public discourse generally, and then decide if that's something you want to see continue, and are willing to help out to that end.

No gimmicks, just a straight appeal for support for what we do here.

I hope you all find that enough.

[As before, either click on the PayPal button above left, or send donations by snail mail to:

David Neiwert
P.O. Box 17872
Seattle, WA 98127-7872 ]

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