In case any of you all were curious, I want you to know that, yes, THIS WAS FAST. This fundraiser has gone at the speed of a train carrying toxic chemicals through Ohio that are probably now in my water. In other words, far faster than we could have ever anticipated. You all have never, ever raised money for Autostraddle this quickly.
Thank you. Thank you for reading our posts about our business model explaining why we run this site the way we do. Thank you for asking questions in the comments and reading our answers. Thank you for responding, yourselves, and bringing your perspective to the conversation. Thank you for supporting Autostraddle financially, for getting it.
We put ourselves out there and hope that you all will support the effort because we keep our site majority free-to-read, but it isn’t free to make. If you’ve given, thank you for recognizing that. And if you can’t give at this time, that’s ok! We know our queer community isn’t always flush with cash — neither are we. We want you all to think of this as a sliding scale service; free for those who need it for free, supported by the people who have more resources and can afford to pay for it.
Here’s what we outlined over the years when we’ve asked for your help:
- Autostraddle is, unlike a business that has inventory that then sells those goods, much more like a service. The majority of our money goes toward paying people who write for us and who make the website run, and in turn, we create media for all of us, for readers like you and me!
- However, we recognize that not everyone in our community can afford to pay for our service (like if we put our writing behind a paywall) and that it is far more ethical and important to us to offer this website for free — and to ask people to voluntarily contribute instead.
- Autostraddle, like almost every media company alive today, will always require reader support as well as outside revenue streams to survive, but we’ll never paywall all of our content or require a subscription to read it.
Here’s the thing: This requires a huge level of trust. We have to do our work day in and day out trusting that if you can support us, that you will. You’ve validated that trust: this year, last year, and the years before.
And here’s what we’ve outlined this time:
We needed support and urgently because:
- A lot of brands are hunkering down for a recession and that makes us anxious about ad sales in the near future.
- Advertising and building relationships and fixing our ad placements on the website takes time and it takes money — we believe in Anya, our Director of Brand Partnerships, and the work she’s doing to help us get more support in the advertising arena.
- We run an incredibly lean business. Mostly, we pay our people to do work, and that’s where our money goes. When we pay people out of the money we have, like the funds raised last October, eventually, we run out.
Your getting us to $175,000 has meant that we can survive for the next few months as we take some more time to radically rethink how we run things and what our future should look like, undoubtedly one of our most radical re-framings in our company’s history. We’ve partially relied on SBA grants and loans for the past three years and we need a more sustainable plan going forward now that we won’t have that money but will have to be paying it back. But we’ll figure it out, because Autostraddle has figured it out time and again. We’ve held out for fourteen years both because we never say die and because we’ve been nimbly adjusting whenever the time calls for it.
So where are we now?
We’re safe. Enough. For now.
We don’t currently have enough regular support to pay all our bills. We have enough regular reader support to pay fully HALF of our expenses for the year, while the rest will rely on other streams of income, such as advertising.
For this fundraiser, this month, in 2023, Riese set a pretty strict limit. She only wanted to fundraise for two weeks. I said I understood. So, we set a goal that we both knew would help us survive for now and that thought we could meet in those two weeks. Why two weeks? In past years, we’ve spent upwards of 25% of the year in fundraising mode — all hands on deck, minimal sleep, around-the-clock stress. We had to accept the physical and mental strain and the sacrifice because there was no other way to keep this website here.
We’re extending this fundraiser, but not with a stretch goal, just, until the time we had planned to stop the fundraiser. Our goal is a minimum of what we needed to make it through the next few months, still operating at a threadbare level. But anything more means a few more weeks of life, means lessening the chance of a second fundraiser, means a little less panic if ads don’t pick up right away, means hopefully making some progress on the loan that is looming like a dark cloud over us. In other words: anything extra isn’t gravy money, it’s still survival money. As I said, we got to a place where we could survive, but what if we got to a place where we could survive…more? What if we got to a place where we could meet in-person, tear things up and strategize. It’s been almost four years and the only co-worker I’ve met in person is Carmen. We need time to rethink Autostraddle, to shake things up, to do what this indie queer outfit does best and adapt.
Also, when we quit after hitting our goal last time, a lot of you told us that we should’ve kept going and not been ashamed to ask for what we really needed!
So, we are doing what so many of you have asked, to ask for more, to not let ourselves be so unsteady, to let ourselves have a little more runway, so that we won’t trip and fall as easily or as soon.
Fundraising for this publication is hard. I’m writing this on a Saturday night. It’s dark outside. My girlfriend is downstairs, alone. This is a position so many of us find ourselves in, hands hurting, eyes on our sixteenth hour of screen time. We do this out of love and obsession and a sense of duty and the knowledge that it is not good if Autostraddle goes under. If we run into trouble later this year, and, well, this year is looking rough, we will have to fundraise again.
But fundraising is a huge drain on our team. I know that Autostraddle literally has a fundraising director — heyyy it’s me. I do the work of a department of three, especially because I also run our membership program and, on top of that — all of our senior staff regardless of actual job description (e.g., CEO! Brand Partnerships Director!), write for the website. Our whole team chips in to fundraise. We work extra hours, on top of our long hours. This requires editorial to take a hit when it comes to writing and creating.
What if this was the only fundraising drive this year? How far can we go? Can we do this all at once and save a lot of time and effort?
Here’s a donation form for A+ Members, right here:
And a donation form for all!
And, these perks will disappear in a cloud of gay fairy dust on March 29th, so if you want them, there’s no other time to get them!