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Please Support Worldchanging - A Campaign Update

Last week we launched our first campaign for support. Our campaign highlights the breathtaking work of photographer Edward Burtynsky, whose images of landscapes profoundly transformed through human industry are legendary, and a powerful reminder of why, exactly, we need to change the world.

We feel extremely proud of where Worldchanging stands today, moving into the end of our first year as an organization. The website just keeps getting better and better, with over 4,100 articles so far and hundreds of thousands of readers. We’ve won the Utne Independent Press Award, and been nominated for multiple awards, including the Webby for Best Blog and the Bloggie for Best Group Blog. We’ve shared our ideas in such public venues as PopTech, South by Southwest, Accelerating Change, TED Global, FOO Camp, Doors of Perception, the Commonwealth Club, Mesh Forum and CompostModern. And in January 2007, we’ll be releasing a major new book, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century.

What do we plan to do from here?

In the coming year, we plan to continue the work you've come to know us for: pursuing information on the newest and greatest tools, models and ideas for building a better future. We aim to widen our contributor base, particularly outside the U.S., and to translate the site into at least five languages. You've told us that your favorite pieces from the website tend to be those that come from our own original reportage, and so we plan to put more emphasis on going into the field to interview innovators and research emerging work. We would also like to host more events and facilitate face-to-face connections amongst neighboring and traveling Worldchangers. In short, we're widening our search for solutions

Why are we asking for your support now?

Up to this point, we have managed to do all this programmatic work with very little funding. But we can’t continue to grow and improve without more support. We’re confident that we do a lot of good with every single dollar we spend, but we’re still young, we have growing needs (like, for instance, an office), and need to spend some money in order to reach stability.

Many online publications run ads. While this can be a somewhat effective way to generate revenue, we want to be wary of potential ethical conflicts, and keep the focus of the site on worldchanging content. Like a public radio station, we hope you will help support what we do, because you are the people we do this for. You are our community and you motivate and influence the work we do every day.

How will we spend your money?

Worldchanging's projected expenses for 2006 are outlined below. As we've mentioned, we'll be posting a full annual report in May for all readers to see.

• Staff [5] and program contractors $230,000 (including taxes and benefits)
• Office rent, equipment, operating costs and program support $59,000
• 2 annual retreats, conferences and travel $50,000
• Fundraising costs (mainly a grantswriter) $36,000
• Website hosting, development and design $20,000
• Legal, accounting and other professional $5,000

Total = $400K

The breakdown of sources for funding for year two:

• Board Fundraising – 25%
• First campaign matching grants – 25%
• Reader support – 15%
• Grants – 15%
• Sponsorships – 12.5%
• In-kind donations – 5%
• Earned Income – 2.5%

Where is the campaign now?

As of today (February 20), we have raised over $10,000. A huge thank you to those who have donated in the first few days of our campaign!

We have until Earth Day – April 22nd – to hit $50,000. Ed Burtynsky and Chris Anderson have each promised to match this amount, allowing us to hit our goal of $150,000, and turning each dollar you give into three we receive. Please consider making a donation

We hope this gives you a good sense of how far we've come and what direction we intend to go with your support. We'll be posting more detailed information about all these topics in coming weeks, and we look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas on them.

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement.

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One thing that's important to keep in mind is that, while the public face of WorldChanging is the blog, this fundraising effort has a lot to do with WorldChanging as a non-profit organization.

For 99% of our readers, WorldChanging is a blog, period, and I think that at least some of the reaction to the scale of the support comes from that perception. But the difference between seeing WorldChanging as a blog and seeing it as a non-profit is enormous. $150K for a non-profit, to be blunt, isn't a lot of money; it's a huge amount for a blog. Similarly, for a non-profit, a handful of staff is small potatoes; for a blog, it's an army.

This isn't an attempt to say "we're not a blog." We are. It's just that the word "blog" has multiple meanings.

At its most superficial, "blog" refers to a particular structure of regular content entries on a website; such entries can range from a couple of words to multi-thousand word essays. Anything from automated updates from traffic cameras to million-reader sites like Slashdot fit here.

"Blog" can also refer to a member of a (what's now called) Web 2.0 community of practice, people who use weblog software as their primary face to their audience and do so in order to engage in a public discussion of particular issues. This is the most common usage, in that people who talk about "blogs" as a phenomenon are generally thinking of this large but not all-encompassing set of sites.

Finally, "blog" can refer to a kind of organization structure, one where a blogger is thought of as a semi- to well-informed amateur working in his/her spare time to pull together links and ideas. If you think about the blogs that people would consider "professional," they tend to be structured as a site owner/manager and diverse/dispersed writers (e.g., BB, "Pajama Media," Kos, etc.); there are in comparison few blogs that have a simultaneous identity as a "real" organization.

It's this third meaning that we're running afoul of. WC is a blog by meaning 1 and meaning 2, no doubt about it -- our Moveable Type interface is our sole connection to our community. But we're *not* a blog under meaning 3, and in fact we're moving aggressively away from that amateur/spare time model. We don't yet have a firm identity as a non-profit organization, however, so we can't point people to a page/site and say "look, this is who we are, we're simply using this medium for communication."

Keep this in mind when you look at the budget break-down above.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 20 Feb 06

Next annoying question: how does the $150K you're after fit into the projected $400K?

Sorry to be a pain about this (I've already contributed), but it's as well to be clear.

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 20 Feb 06


First, thanks for the donation. It is much appreciated!

Second, the lines

• First campaign matching grants – 25%
• Reader support – 15%

refer to this campaign.

The challenge matching grants Ed and Sapling have generously put up will make up a quarter of our projected budget from April 2006 - April 2007. Reader donations, if we hit our target of $50K, will make up an eighth of our budget (we figured we would get at least a few other donations over the course of the year, and so upped the total amount to 15%.

Does that answer your question?

Thanks again for the support!

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 20 Feb 06

Thanks, Alex. That clarifies things

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 21 Feb 06

I would love to donate, but due to restrictions on my end, it must be tax deductable 501c (not "pending" status). Please email me when your approved and ill send a check. Please forward this to whoever handles donations.

Posted by: stephen balbach on 21 Feb 06

I am also in the same situation as Stephen. Please let me know when the 501(c)3 status is confirmed. I will happily support at that time.

Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 25 Feb 06

Thanks, Stephen and Randy. We very much appreciate all the support!

We will be in touch as soon as our pending status clears. We've been waiting quite awhile: apparently the IRS is backlogged.

For most people, of course, the pending doesn't make a difference, but I do understand that some foundations and so on have specific requirements.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 26 Feb 06

sounds like you are on the right to be updated and involved

Posted by: alan boniface on 28 Feb 06

Dear Alex, Alan, and WC Team,

You know you can find a non profit that would give WC umbrella status as a non profit until your own filing for non profit comes through.

There ought to be someone like Northwest Environment Watch, a Church Council etc...who can take you on as a project.

Second, spell out what your budget is -- all I have seen is $150,000-- is that 2 people's salaries?

Or is there a budget somewhere I missed.

Good luck.


Posted by: Timothy Colman on 4 Mar 06

Tim, there's a budget breakdown in this very post. It doesn't detail how much each person makes, but I can assure you that it's not a lot. :)

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 4 Mar 06

Bumping this to the top of the rss feed every week or so without offering any updates strikes me as a bit silly and counter-productive.

How is the campaign going?

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 13 Mar 06



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