Montclair Local needs your help, and it needs it today.
Your donation is critical to supporting journalism in the community we all share and love. All donations above $120 automatically include membership to Montclair Local and our weekly print newspaper for one year.
Montclair Local isn’t like most other news organizations — it’s a nonprofit, and operates at a substantial loss.
The old model of supporting a robust newspaper with ad revenue alone just doesn’t work anymore — it’s why most local news operations have drastically cut back their staffs (as we’ve seen happen in Montclair), or shut down altogether. Those cuts leave communities uninformed. They leave those in power unaccountable. They make it harder for the vulnerable to be heard, for lived experiences to be shared, for triumphs to be celebrated. As former Gov. Tom Kean recently said, with journalism suffering, “Democracy is in trouble.”
Montclair Local was born out of a belief that our community benefits from, needs and deserves news coverage at a level no other organization is prepared to provide. We see it as a community service. But without your contributions, Montclair Local won’t survive.
Montclair Local began its life prepared to operate at a loss for a limited time — but now, it’s time to turn that around. We need to raise raise $230,000 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021 to put us on firm footing for 2022. Make your donation below, and scroll down for more information on where your money goes.
Frequently asked questions
Is my donation to Montclair Local tax deductible?
It is! Montclair Local is a tax-exempt public charity under 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. All contributions above $39 are tax deductible.
What’s the difference between a membership and a donation?
All donors of at least $120 per year (or $10 per month) are members, and receive our print edition each week (unless they tell us to skip them for delivery. Donate and become a member at MontclairLocal.news/donations.
(Note: We used to have a separate “membership” and “donation” form; we’ve simplified that to the single form above to cut down on the confusion.)
What if I can’t afford $120 but still want to become a member?
We seek to get news to as many people in the community as possible, regardless of their financial status. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work with you to find another option.
Will my donation be made public?
As a matter of transparency, we disclose the names of donors who’ve given $1,000 or more on our website. Donors don’t get any special favors when it comes to news coverage, but we believe it’s best to be upfront with readers about where our support comes from.
How will my money be used?
Montclair Local’s yearly operating expenses approach $800,000 a year. A bit over $100,000 of that goes to printing and delivering the newspaper to members each week. The vast majority of the remainder pays for the salaries of our journalists — as of late 2021, that includes an editor, associate editor, two full-time news reporters, one part-time sports writer/editor, a part-time paginator and a part-time copy editor. We also work with several freelance reporters and photographers, and employ a business manager, fundraising director and a part-time assistant.
Can’t you cut back on expenses?
There are odds and ends beyond that — our web hosting, our bookkeeping, and so forth. But those aren’t make-or-break expenses. Saving real money would mean cutting back on news coverage — the community service Montclair Local was founded to provide.
So how do for-profit newspapers make it work?
They often don’t. Newspapers are shutting down left and right. When Gannett bought the Montclair Times, it drastically cut back the staff (we should know; many of our founding journalists came from there). According to Pew Research, there were more than 71,000 newspaper newsroom employees in 2004, and about 30,000 in 2020. Ad revenue has been in freefall — down from an estimated $49 million in 2005 to less than $9 million in 2020.
What about your competitors?
We’re proud to be part of an ecosystem of several hyperlocal websites serving Montclair and nearby towns, and they each do their jobs well. They each set out their model and priorities differently — but Montclair Local aims to provide our community with more. We provide robust, thorough, enterprising coverage solely focused on Montclair, with a full team of journalists who make informing Montclair their entire mission.
I’m … not sure if I’m already a member. I get the paper sometimes … I think.
We understand the confusion. We do what are called “Total Market Circulation” distributions to the entire township a few times a year, or sometimes give the paper for free to a neighborhood on a temporary basis. We also, at our discretion, sometimes allow grace periods after a membership lapses where we continue delivering it for a limited time. That all helps with our mission of informing the community … but it isn’t always clear to people if they already subscribe.
If you’re not sure if you’re a current member, email email@example.com and we’ll get it sorted out.
So, can I get my event/topic/issue covered if I’m a donor?
You can ask or pitch us a story — just like anyone else can. We welcome story ideas and feedback from anyone in the community at all, regardless of whether they’ve supported us financially. But under our editorial independence policy, no one (including our own governing and advisory boards) can make decisions about our news coverage besides our journalists.
Do you accept anonymous donations?
We’d consider accepting anonymous donations for general support (not coverage of a particular topic) only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with Institute for Nonprofit News Membership Standards. If you’re proposing such a donation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss it.