Today was a difficult day of change for voiceofsandiego.org.
Last year, we raised more than $1.1 million and drew up a budget for 2011 at $1.2 million. We’re projecting lower revenue for the coming year and set the budget at $1 million.
There’s no one cause for the change. No major donor has dropped out. Our sponsorships are consistent and our membership is growing rapidly. But in the past, we’ve relied on grants from national foundations to make up a large part of our funding and we can’t be sure they’ll be there for us again. We’re in the process of building a thriving membership program to reduce our reliance on foundations, but we need time to fully establish a diverse donor base. Quite simply, like many of the agencies we cover and many families across San Diego, we have to be realistic about our prospects for the New Year.
In reducing our expenses, we prioritized what we feel we can do best as well as what our readers have told us is important to them. As a result, we will focus our resources on having a greater impact through a full investigative reporting team and a daily engagement and analysis team focusing on politics, public affairs, education and the arts.
We will continue to add value to the daily civic discussion and uncover the things people don’t want to discuss. Unfortunately, these changes mean we have had to lay off four of our friends and co-workers. Three are familiar faces to you:
• Emily Alpert, education reporter.
• Sam Hodgson, photo editor.
• Adrian Florido, neighborhood reporter.
They all have contributed greatly to our success. We’ll miss them deeply as people and professionals. They’re all very talented and we know they’ll continue to have success.
There’s little doubt many of you will be sad to see them go and you may disagree with our decisions. We recognize and understand that.
Further budget reductions will not be considered for 2012.
It may seem awkward to be running our year-end fundraising campaign — an ambitious one at that — in the midst of these changes. But actually, it’s quite appropriate. As a nonprofit, this is our challenge: Our service depends on your support. If you value our investigative reporting, analysis, our daily Morning Report, partnerships with local media and events, please support this effort.
Over the next few months, we’re going to be quite open and frank with you about what this service will require and how you can help. At the same time, we’ll continue putting on events, working on media platforms of all kinds and using whatever tools necessary to help people understand their region and its problems clearly.
We’ll also be forthcoming on any changes of coverage or journalistic projects we’re working on. We’re currently working with staff to finalize exactly what our new structure looks like. We’ll share it with you when it’s ready.
Right now, we’re focused on building the sort of local membership base that allows us to grow more organically. As we grow, we’ll do it strategically, based on data and a conversation with you.
If any current members, sponsors or supporters would like to contact us to discuss this decision further, please do. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult decision and we appreciate your understanding.
We’re not going to give you the hackneyed journalism line that we’ll “do more with less.” We are, however, taking this as an opportunity to go back to our roots and focus on impact. We’ll use all we’ve learned over the past seven years of VOSD to build a thriving and sustainable organization.
We remain surrounded by immensely talented and passionate individuals. As a group, we’re as committed as ever to uncovering San Diego’s secrets and telling the stories no one else is telling.
Scott Lewis and Andrew Donohue