Editor's Notes


Editor's Notes

True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 43 (247)
Friday, October 8, 2010

What is a 'reasonable donation'?

Recently, we received an email from a reader complementing True North Perspective on its new and improved format and wondering what a "reasonable donation" in support of our experiment in news and opinion might be.

As I contemplated a reply, I realized that there is no easy answer to the question, especially for a web-based publication. Unlike an old-fashioned newspaper, with physical costs for printing and transportation, a website's mechanical costs are relatively low — which is why True North Perspective has survived for so long on so little. Our biggest expense is the time we and our growing team of writers put into creating this unique window on the world; the cost of hosting the bits of electronic data that is the physical aspect of True North Perspective can be done for far less money than it would cost to print a few thousand copies of the same production on paper.

On the other hand, it is easy to stamp an actual price on a newspaper, and easy enough to learn whether or not that price is something people are willing to pay.

The web is different and the question, How can you make a viable business with the written word on the internet? remains open. Experiments have been and continue to be made with donation models, subscription-only models, advertising-only models and combinations of all three, as True North Perspective's own recent re-design is obviously one example.

So far, none have succeeded so well that all others can point to one and say, There! That is the way of the future! Instead, the search for the magic solution continues, and the goal is especially elusive for projects like True North Perspective, whose stock-in-trade isn't celebrities or games, or sex, but instead news and ideas that take us beyond that which is delivered by the mainstream media.

To answer our reader, then, is to throw the question back at her (and to the rest of you!): How much can you afford to pay? and What is True North Perspective worth to you?

If each of our subscribers thought True North Perspective was worth $10.00 per month, we would be able to work on it full time and to pay our contributors something approaching what their words are worth.

But that isn't the way the web works — at least, not so far. My impression from this and from the public pronouncements of other websites is that much if not most of the money comes from a few large donors, (in one case at least $5 million to start with and currently operating on a multi-million dollar budget) with the balance coming from a larger number of readers, but still a small minority.

So, I guess the answer to the question of what a "reasonable donation" is that it really does boil down to each reader's judgement as to what True North Perspective is worth to them and what your financial situation is.

If you're unemployed, or living on a very tight budget, the best way to help is to forward links to our articles to friends, or to share them via Facebook or your social network of choice. If money is not a problem, then consider your other expenses — is True North Perspective worth what you pay for a cup of coffee each day? Maybe a pint of beer? Then send us that. Or, if you're in the mood to invest in what True North Perspective might become, consider what it might be worth to 10 or 100 people, and contribute that!

To donate the new-fangled safe and secure way, click the button below; to donate the old-fashioned way, copy out the address in the yellow box and send us a cheque or money order.

Every little bit helps to make True North Perspective a better and stronger window on the world.

No credit card? No problem!
You can donate the old fashioned way: send cheque or money order to:
Carl Dow, True North Perspective, Station E, P.O. Box 4814
Ottawa ON Canada K1S 5H9
Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor
True North Perspective