The way we do things now isn’t the way The Gabber always did things.
Once upon a time at The Gabber, the owners gave free ads to charities. That was a long time ago, but it’s the world I entered when I started working for the paper. Somewhere along the way, though, the owners realized they couldn’t afford to do that, and they started charging for ads. I always thought the owners felt a little bad about the need to charge, because as the president of one such charity – the Gulfport Historical Society – I noticed we didn’t always get a bill for things (and this was after I left the paper, so it wasn’t because I worked there.)
Today, we still charge charities for ads, although we offer them our best rate – so long as they can show us they’re a 501(c)(3) in the eyes of the IRS.
We’ve had a lot of talks internally about how we can help the charities get the word out about what they’re doing and what they need. At the museum, we always have events we want people to know about, and now that we’re responsible for the Gulfport Arts Center, our need has doubled.
The museum and the arts center are not alone. Friends of Strays needs shelter volunteers. The Lions Club needs members. Little League needs support. The Kiwanis needs money and people. There’s no shortage of need; what there seems to be is a shortage of money, even the money to advertise for what they need.
At The Gabber, we want to help everyone. The problem is that every page costs money to create and print, and as much as we want to give away ads to worthy organizations – of which there many – we have to be able to pay our staff, and our printer and landlord are also pretty clear on wanting to get paid, too. There’s also the overwhelming angst of not being able to pay our bills, the paper failing, us disappointing a community, and us having to leave in shame and move to North Dakota which, no disrespect, is not the goal.
Suffice to say, we’re motivated to keep the paper solvent, but we also want to lift up the organizations that make Gulfport special. We just can’t do it for free. And so we’ve had discussion upon discussion, and last month, I think we arrived at a solution, and we believe it will benefit the charities.
Often, charities need to advertise their fundraiser, but don’t have money to advertise, so how are they supposed to attract people to their events? Many times – as was the case at the museum recently – a board member paid out of pocket for the ad. That’s not sustainable for any organization, so The Gabber’s created a charity ad bank. Here’s how it works: Any 501(c)(3) can choose an ad package for the year, based on what they think they’ll need, whether it’s 12 ads a year or 52. They still pay our lowest rate, but instead of paying one lump sum, they can make interest-free payments on a monthly or weekly basis throughout the year. This way, they can budget for advertising without taking a chunk out of what may be shoestring budgets. It’s the most sustainable way we can think of to help the many worthy charities in our community.
We hope all the local charities will take part in this, and we hope, as we grow, we can give them even better rates.