Crowdfunding community journalism: an update

By Hannah Scarbrough | 28th Nov 2014

Back in October, A Little Bit of Stone provided the template for hyperlocal crowdfunding success with their campaign, hosted by Crowdfunder UK, which raised over £10,000 in its first week and comfortably over-funded on its £15,000 target. Since then there has been a proliferation of new community journalism crowdfunding campaigns, both here in the UK and over the Atlantic in the US. We hear from some new crowdfunders such as Brixton Blog and Bugle, and revisit Jamie at A Little Bit of Stone to find out what has changed since he reached his crowdfunding target.

“We really want to improve our coverage”

BrixtonA prominent UK hyperlocal website which has embraced crowdfunding is Brixton Blog. Brixton Blog produces a monthly print edition (The Brixton Bugle), and has an impressive online audience with 60,000 unique visitors a month and a further 20,000 Twitter followers.

So why have they turned to crowdfunding? Zoe Jewell, co-founder of Brixton Blog and Bugle, explains: “Our really big challenge at the moment is to make the Brixton Blog financially sustainable and to pay some contributors and editors for their time.  Wouldn’t it be a dream if we could become an independent local newspaper that had a set of paid employees rather than running on volunteer resources?!  One step along the way to this is to be able to have a paid news editor on the Blog who can be solely focused on getting great content, leaving Tim and I (the co-editors) free to focus on the long-term sustainability of the Blog & Bugle.”

Zoe concedes that crowdfunding is just the beginning of the long battle for sustainability, but it is an important step to take: “Ultimately we will need to get a bigger injection of funding and a regular income, but employing a news editor is really important at the moment because Tim and I (and other editors who work with us too) are stretched so thin that it is becoming increasingly difficult to juggle the work with our paid jobs.”

And what are the other plans for the crowdfunding target? Zoe says: “We really want to improve our coverage and have loads of big ideas for the site – ultimately we would love to see a fortnightly edition of the Brixton Bugle newspaper for instance. The crowdfunder is going well but we are only half way there with just ten days left to go, so we still need all the help we can get!”

You can support the Brixton Blog and Bugle crowdfunding campaign and help the team reach their target.

“Connecting residents with local businesses” 

An interesting twist on how to crowdfund your community journalism project comes courtesy of a US-based site, Bushwick Daily.Bushwick Bushwick Daily has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the development of a “new platform (app & website) that will bring together our great hyperlocal content with local loyalty rewards”. The team say on their crowdfunding page that they hope this new platform will strengthen links between the community and their local businesses, giving residents “a sense of belonging”.

True to their ethos of bringing together local people and local businesses, Bushwick Daily has teamed up with retailers and restaurants to provide some interesting incentives to its funders, from a $10 Craft Beer refill to $15 Bushwick Burlesque! It provides some interesting food for thought for UK community journalists on how to engage local traders with their crowdfunding initiative.

“The first step towards real sustainability”

Crowdfunder homepageAnd what has happened since A Little Bit of Stone reached (over and above) their £15,000 target? According to its founder, Jamie Summerfied, the effect on the day-to-day running of the site has been immediate and transformative. Jamie says: “Our successful crowdfunding campaign means I’m now working on the site for two-and-a-half days a week for the next 12 months. This is a real breakthrough and we’ve already been able to do so much more, including producing a charity calendar that will be on sale soon, and we have lots of plans for extra content next year. We’re also building a new website that will launch in the new year.”

And what has the crowdfunding boost meant for the longer-term future of A Little Bit of Stone? Jamie is optimistic: “These are exciting times…Our campaign has has enabled us to take the first step towards real sustainability – we’ll now be working really hard over the next 12 months to make that happen.”

“Helping hyperlocals across the UK raise funding”

The Centre for Community Journalism is also working with Crowdfunder UK, the crowdfunding platform which hosted A Little Bit of Stone’s campaign, to encourage community journalists to explore this route of funding. Simon Walker, Head Coach of Crowdfunder UK, says: “With the support of Centre for Communnity Journalism the Crowdfunder hyperlocal campaign is helping hyperlocals across the UK raise funding for formation, growth and sustainabillity. So far the campaign has raised nearly £40,000, which will continue to grow as each new hyperlocal decides to crowdfund.”

Have you got a crowdfunding story? We would love to hear from you, tweet us @C4CJ or email us.

Image accompanying this article is copyright Doug88888.


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