Updated: No results yet for Crosscut donations and match, but thanks to those who responded. The Seattle Foundation raised $3.5 million in the 17 hourse of the campaign. More than 18,800 people donated, with an average gift of $190. The Foundation match added another $500,000 to the GiveBig day. The top five nonprofits were: Planned Parenthood, Seattle Public Library Foundation, Tennis Outreach, FareStart, and the 5th Avenue Theatre Association.
Today, June 23, would be a fine day for you to help boost Crosscut and its form of thoughtful, online, local journalism. The occasion is the "Give Big Day" that The Seattle Foundation is holding today only. Donations to nonprofits such as Crosscut will be "stretched" by matching gifts, so your $100 donation (or whatever size) would make you a Member of Crosscut, net another $25-50 to our cause (depending on how many folks donate to us today), and help the Foundation to launch this fine idea for a big day of community generosity. Annual Memberships at Crosscut, with many benefits and events, start at $35. 100 percent of your donation to Crosscut today comes to us, plus the match it will earn from The Seattle Foundation.
To earn the match, you'll want to make your tax-deductible donation to the Crosscut page on The Seattle Foundation site; and you need to make the online contribution between 7 am and midnight on Thursday. Thanks very much.
And by the way, our next free-for-Members event will be July 7, coinciding with First Thursday's Art Walk in Pioneer Square. We'll have an open house with wine and nibbles and a short program with some leading arts figures in the town, talking about how the arts are coping with these tough times. Details soon on the Member page.
As it happens, Crosscut has developed a deep partnership with The Seattle Foundation, so your donation would help both organizations, plus the cause of quality journalism in our region.
The partnership stems from talks we began more than a year ago with the Foundation, which was in the process of developing a new website and a new approach to the community. These "community foundations" have for years been an excellent way for civic-minded individuals to make a major donation to the foundation, let them manage the asset, and for donors to use the expertise and financial management of the foundation to steer funds wisely to good causes of the donors' main interests. Now the Seattle Foundation, along with others around the country, is enlarging is services to the wider community. And this is where Crosscut was asked to help.
The new idea is to open up the Seattle Foundation's research resources to all who want to give, not just those generous individuals who have already given to the foundation. By going to the site, donors and the general public can gain objective, independent information about nonprofits in specific areas, thus helping these users to find ways to help, to learn more, to volunteer, and to donate with precision. Relatedly, under the foundation's new president, former Seattle mayor Norman Rice, the organization is reaching out to the broader community and taking a more directive approach to anticipating problems, coordinating giving, and being a community resource.
Meanwhile, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has been encouraging these community foundations to get involved in helping support nonprofit local journalism, a new direction for most of them (it wasn't needed before, and there were very few nonprofit media enterprises to give to). The Knight Foundation's Community Information Challenge matches, dollar for dollar, community foundation grants to promising, early-stage online local news nonprofits. This resulted in a combined grant to Crosscut Public Media, publishers of Crosscut.com, of $365,000 over two years.
The Crosscut/Seattle Foundation collaboration has three components. The first is the development of an "activation engine" that will soon appear alongside many Crosscut stories, linking the reader to deep inside The Seattle Foundation website, so that a reader becomes "activated" to learn more, sign up for a newsletter, or make a donation. This is part of Crosscut's commitment to what we call "the complete reader," one who moves from curiosity to deeper knowledge to sharing knowledge and making comments to a desire to help solve community problems by getting involved.
At the point where the reader migrates from Crosscut, we give people access to more data, let them do their own research and reach their own decisions of how to help. The Seattle Foundation folks have a commitment to provide ever deeper layers of independent data about the hundreds of nonprofits on their robust website. Eventually, we will develop ways to take readers via this engine to other sources of independent, evaluative information. In turn, the technology we are developing will be made part of another Knight project offering this feature free to nonprofit websites across the country.
The second component is the development of more, and more diverse, "community voices." Crosscut is a non-partisan, multiple-viewpoints website, and these additional resources will enable us to discover and develop many more voices and points of view — widening the range of intelligently-argued viewpoints and seeking out unheard voices. This involves a robust op-ed function,including promoting up the best comments to full articles and finding content-sharing partners all across the Northwest.
This makes sense for many reasons, I think. The region is becoming much more diverse ethnically, ideologically, and in global awareness. Crosscut is a general-interest website, with a wide array of interests in politics, business, arts, and lifestyle, and the Web has the capacity to archive and organize vast amounts of material.
The third component is what we call "spotlight reporting." Crosscut plans to select issues of topical importance and ripe for public decisions and then "flood the zone" by putting up extensive data, reporting on multiple meetings, and linking to related information around the country and the region. The goal is to cover this critical topic with strict neutrality, enrich the data sources, and shine light on all the decision makers and their documents. This helps the public decide, provides material and archived information for other media to use, and builds public trust that the ultimate decision was made in daylight, not behind closed doors.
Spotlight projects hark back to the days when metropolitan dailies served as "papers of record," going to all the city council meetings and covering the minutia of government. None can afford to do that anymore, but we will be able to do so selectively, and while the topic is decision-ripe. (Some examples: the redistricting process, and Seattle's Family and Education levy — today's lead story, incidentally.)
The idea also derives from a project, called PlanPhilly, which successfully shined so much public light on endless debates about the Philadelphia waterfront, that the deals emerged from the mayoral backrooms into the light of day, finally resolving those Viaduct-style impasses. PlanPhilly was hatched by that city's community foundation, the William Penn Foundation, working with the University of Pennsylvania, and it continues today.
The lead editor for all these initiatives is Joe Copeland, who has been Crosscut's deputy editor for the past 18 months. Joe has extensive experience in this area, having been city editor and editorial page editor at the Everett Herald and then an editor and writer on the editorial page staff at the Post-Intelligencer. He knows the region well and is well connected with many of the cultural communities of the area. Be sure to contact him with ideas for Spotlight projects: email@example.com.
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