We like to call ICT a 40-year-old startup. Even though the publication has a rich history (founded by Tim Giago as the Lakota Times nearly four decades ago) our past three years have essentially been a startup. We have been growing, learning a lot, building systems and capacity, and hiring talented people.
And, as we also like to say, we are just at the beginning of our growth. Three years ago there were four people working here … today that number is about 26 when you include contractors and part-time help. And still it’s not enough to serve our audience the way we would like. There are so many days when we don't have a reporter or a producer to cover the stories we know about.
I am happy to say we are doing something about that. We just partnered with another nonprofit news organization, Underscore, to hire a writer in Oregon. This is so exciting. There are so many great stories in the Northwest and this new beat will mean we will be able to report more of them.
I’d love to see us expand in the same way to the Southeast, to Oklahoma, the Dakotas, the Midwest … basically anywhere we’re not now.
The broadcast team at ICT represents the most growth at ICT -- and frankly that division still has the biggest need. We are producing a daily news show with a staff that’s much smaller than most local news operations, let alone trying to cover the country. But our goal is to make the show a little better everyday. (A tease: We have a major announcement coming soon.) We leverage technology, such as the iPhone, in order to expand our reach at a lower cost.
We are past the halfway point for 2021 and three months into our new nonprofit company, IndiJ Public Media.
Our audience and supporters have been amazing. When we sat down last year to write the budget we projected $200,000 a year in donations from individuals. The second it was on paper, we wondered, “could we really do that? Will readers respond?"
The answer is “yes.” Last week we passed $100,000 on our page support.IndianCountryToday.com. We’re racing ahead of our goal.
This is the ultimate confirmation about the importance of our work.
Those donations came from 2,886 people and the average donation is $35.02. My favorite example comes on those days when I get a money order in the mail for $20. And the postmarks are from communities across Indian Country. A money order means that someone not only wanted to donate, but they took the time to go to the post office in order to send us the funds.
This represents a connection with a reader that is awe inspiring.
As the Nonprofit Quarterly recently wrote: ICT “very nearly failed to get there. Indeed, on September 4, 2017, the publication shut down, seemingly for good.Today, the story couldn’t be more different.”
There is a story to tell about our other revenue sources. We have not hit all of our goals yet but we are on pace to do so. We just have to keep at it.
The goal this year is to raise $3.7 million. That’s a huge number. But when you consider all we do -- and all that we want to do -- it really represents a lean, modest-size news company. (When I was publisher of a newspaper more than 20 years ago my annual budget was in that range. And that was for a small town daily, not a national publication.)
June is one of the months that we ask for donations. (Our budget calls for six campaigns per year.) So please consider a donation, if you have not already.
I’d also like to make a pitch for our executive level support, the Phoenix 100. This is a $5,000 donation; a serious investment in this enterprise. Phoenix 100 members can access our speakers’ bureau and there are other benefits as well.
Even better consider ICT in your advertising plans.
This month is a great example of the “why.” We covered breaking news, published an investigation, a project and had great features. We had it all -- and readers noticed -- with nearly 800,000 pageviews (our goal is to regularly reach a million each month).
So thank you and stay tuned.