Monterey County Weekly Raises More than $500,000 for Nonprofits

The Weekly's Community Fund 2009 Local Economic Stimulus Campaign attracts 2,071 donations from over 1,600 donors

Jan. 28, 20010


Bradley Zeve CEO
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Erik Cushman
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SEASIDE, CALIFORNIA — Monterey County Weekly — the community’s hyper-local, award-winning, 21-year old local and independent media — today announced the results of its five-week Community Fund campaign — designed to raise money and awareness for local nonprofits.

In the summer of 2009 the Weekly advertised in its paper and website, asking local nonprofits to submit a proposal of up to $50,000 to its Community Fund. The request was straightforward and nearly wide open to every local group. “We wanted to invite any new ideas, any good ideas that might serve our community in this particularly difficult time.” Zeve said. “We wanted to foster innovation, to reward creative thinking.”

77 groups submitted projects requesting over $2,000,000 in funding. The Weekly had initially offered $50,000 as a grant.

“There were so many great ideas covering too many different categories that it quickly became clear that we had created something unexpected. There was no clear and simple choice,” said Erik Cushman, publisher of Monterey County Weekly.

This, ultimately, created a good problem for the Weekly and its Community Fund.

Inspired by President Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan, the Weekly Community Fund committee agreed to broaden the campaign’s appeal and reach out to the entire community for more funding. Publisher Erik Cushman branded the campaign the 2009 Local Economic Stimulus Plan. “The idea stuck. We thought maybe we could leverage our money our readers and make something extra potent,” said Zeve.

In the Weekly‘s Thanksgiving issue the campaign was announced, asking readers to join the newspaper in supporting the 73 groups. The Weekly‘s upped the ante and put up a $100,000 matching grant from its Community Fund.

“We’d been raising that money for years, and had supported one nonprofit per year since the early 2000s. But we wanted to raise the bar. The money was needed across the board,” added Zeve.

In addition to the $100,000 match, the Weekly put up two $1,000 bonuses — to the group that received the most donors and to the nonprofit that had the most donors 35 years old or younger. “Our thinking was that might help raise the stakes, and the cash,” added Zeve. “It wasn’t an original idea, but it sure worked.”

That’s when history happened.

The checks started rolling in, nearly overwhelming office manager, Linda Maciera, and the Community Foundation’s Kathryn Hart. “We originally hoped we might raise $25,000, maybe $50,000,” said Cushman.

$150,000 rolled in during the first ten days. Some of it arrived as cash and coin, 27 cents was the smallest contribution, over $50,000 the largest.

By the end of the campaign, 1,609 readers contributed. Combined with the Weekly‘s match, the locally owned company will donate $529,337 to the Monterey County nonprofit community beginning next month.

“The true heroes of this story are our readers,” claimed Zeve. In the Weekly‘s January 28 issue, many of the donors were featured, as were some of the groups and their projects.

About Monterey County Weekly

Founded in 1988, Monterey County Weekly is the largest circulated local newspaper in Monterey County, reaching more than 100,000 readers per week into nearly 30 percent of the households directly. Readers of the Weekly are active and educated, eat in restaurants several times per week, and are a local consumer-powerhouse.

The Monterey County Weekly brand also extends beyond the print publication to include Monterey County Weekly NOW (its website) and the Best of Monterey Bay Visitors’ Guide. The company is based in Seaside, working from the halls of famous architect Charles Moore’s first-commercial office building. The newspaper was the first in the country to derive 100 percent of its energy from solar energy, and the only local media in the tri-county area to send a reporter to the Iraq war.

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