Montclair Local staff and volunteers run the nonprofit newsroom’s table at AAPI’s Light Up Montclair, where dozens of people made contributions to the newspaper. You can donate at montclairlocal.news/donations.

By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
hochman@montclairlocal.news

We are absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude.

If you’ve seen the version of this article that appears in the Nov. 18 print edition of Montclair Local, you know it told you were were edging up on our fundraising goal for the fourth quarter of 2021 — an ambitious $230,000, more than we’d ever asked before of the Montclair Community.

In the time between our print deadline and delivery of the paper, we got the extraordinary news: We’ve now hit and exceeded $230,000. Montclair has stepped up to say local news matters, and joined Montclair Local Nonprofit News in its mission of making sure there’s a team working hard to keep you informed about the community you love. The support you’ve given has us overwhelmed — not only because it gives us the room to operate into 2022, but because shows us you’re right there with us in this fight to save local journalism.

This is only the start of our work toward achieving long-term sustainability — and we’re still asking you to go to MontclairLocal.news/donations to contribute what you can (all donations of $120 or more also get you delivery of our newspaper for a full year) — but it’s such an important, huge step.

SAVE MONTCLAIR LOCAL: We're overjoyed to report we've hit our fundraising goal of $230,000 this quarter for Montclair Local Nonprofit News! Montclair has stepped up to say local news matters, and we're hugely grateful. That gives our newsroom, your newsroom, security to operate well into 2022 while we continue to work toward long-term sustainability. We've seen what happens when news operations cut back or shut down. Communities suffer. We've seen it here in Montclair, and we believe you deserve better.

Visit MontclairLocal.news/donations to make your tax-deductible contribution today, to keep Montclair Local strong and help us do even more to serve the amazing community of Montclair.

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Why $230,000, and what’s next?

Six weeks ago, the leadership team at Montclair Local Nonprofit News was doing a lot of math. It was time to take this news operation, which has lost money since its first issue in 2017, and take a shot at sustainability. It was time to test the theory that if we consistently did the work to keep Montclair informed, if we held power to account, if we were with you in times of crisis and celebration, if we reflected the arts and activism and lived experience and extraordinary character of Montclairians, the community would step up and help make our journalism possible.

So we came up with a figure: $230,000. That’s what we asked you to help us raise in the fourth quarter of this year, through memberships, donations and grants — basically, all of our revenue outside of advertising. We’d never asked the community to contribute such a large amount in such a short time before.

That’s what it would take to keep operating Montclair Local at the level we do — with full-time, part-time and freelance journalists working every day to tell your stories — into late 2022, if our expenses and revenue otherwise closely tracked 2021’s (more on that in a moment). 

When we went to print this week, the “Save Montclair Local” campaign had reached $226,000 in donations, memberships and grants either received or pledged for the fourth quarter of this year. We’re now over the $230,000 mark. The fundraising “thermometer” is full.

From myself, from our staff, from our governing board — thank you.

Thank you to everyone who’s come to MontclairLocal.news/donations to contribute (Note: This special edition of Montclair Local is free to all residents of Montclair, but donors of $120 or more also get home delivery of our paper every week for a full year).

Thank you to the many particularly generous donors who’ve given $1,000 or more (see “Our Supporters and Partners” at MontclairLocal.news). Thank you to Thalla-Marie and her husband Heeten Choxi, our founding publisher as well as a member of our governing board, who remain our biggest financial supporters by far. Thank you to Armando OUTthere Diaz and the Weirdo Party for putting on the “Silent Disco to Save Montclair Local,” and to 4 Flavors Art Gallery for helping us raise funds at the opening reception for artist Sen2 Figueroa’s installation. Thank you to Vanguard Theater Company for collecting donations with ticket sales for the upcoming “Broadway on Bloomfield” on Dec. 7, and for hosting a wine and cheese reception for our biggest supporters (tickets are just $30 for the show and can be purchased at VanguardTheaterCompany.org).

Thank you to everyone who believes that local news matters, and who has shown us the faith and support needed to keep delivering it to you.

For six weeks, we’ve asked you to help us “Save Montclair Local.” Now that we’ve nearly hit the $230,000 mark, it’s time to switch up that language, perhaps to something less … dire.

But it doesn’t mean we’re done asking you for your support — as a nonprofit, we never can be. In the remainder of 2021 and through 2022, we’ve got to build on the success of the “Save Montclair Local” campaign to keep our mission alive, and even grow it, in the long term.

So much of our funding still comes from the Choxis — who have put well over $1 million of their own money into Montclair Local since its inception. They can’t anchor our finances forever.

And we’re looking to do more for Montclair. More sports coverage. More arts coverage. More tales of the lived experience of Montclair’s diverse and vibrant community. More enterprise about the problems Montclair faces and the solutions that might be considered. This community has so many stories to tell, and we’re eager to help you explore them all.

To that end, we’ve recently hired a fundraising director who’s pursuing grants and continuing to meet with individuals and organizations that have the means to offer generous support. We’re working on partnerships with area institutions, and we’re beginning to plan more events. We’re always taking a hard look at our expenses, looking to save money in any way we can that doesn’t compromise the journalism we believe is a service to you. 

So … “Sustain Montclair Local”? “Strengthen Montclair Local”? We need something that captures the vital importance of your continued support — but also puts aside the sense of crisis “Save Montclair Local” has suggested. We’re so grateful that your contributions so far have given us that opportunity. 

We’re continuing to work on it here. But I’d love your suggestions. Email me at hochman@montclairlocal.news — and while you’re at it, tell me about something in Montclair you think deserves more attention. After all, we’re here to tell your stories. And we hope to be for a long time to come.

Louis C. Hochman is editor in chief and CEO of Montclair Local.

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