Gratitude. Pure, simple gratitude. That’s what I feel for this community of supporters that keeps Real Change thriving. Last week, we finished up our Spring Fund Drive, and we not only met our bold $208,000 goal, but we exceeded it by almost $10,000. Close to 570 individual donors contributed to the drive, a 15 percent increase over last year’s spring drive.
Hitting our target allows us to keep moving forward with our aggressive strategic goals rather than parsing our budget to see where we should skimp. Our top goal this year is geographic expansion of the paper. Our likely distribution point will be Bremerton Foodline, a nonprofit committed to reducing hunger in Kitsap County, and we are working together toward at Sept. 1 launch.
Simultaneously, we have made contact with an interested nonprofit on the Eastside and have begun exploring expansion there. Satellite distribution will necessitate additional part-time staff, so having met our fundraising target allows us to obtain the staffing capacity we need to turn our goals into reality.
The expansion of our advocacy work this year has been exponential, and this is the direct result of added internal capacity. We’ve worked with allies to secure an extension of the city’s winter shelter, pass a law that prohibits employers from screening out candidates based on criminal backgrounds and support an encampment ordinance that will help to resolve the ongoing debate over Nickelsville.
Meeting our fund drive goals means we cannot only retain but expand our advocacy capacity. We are slated to bring in an intern this fall who will help us kick off an economic justice film series.
We’re putting vendors at the center of our program expansion this year. Vendors are leading our advocacy efforts this year, meeting with advocacy organizers every two weeks to inform our organizing efforts. Recently, 49 vendors signed a letter appealing to city councilmembers to pass Councilmember Nick Licata’s encampment ordinance. In addition, a current vendor is co-chairing a newly formed board committee on geographic expansion.
Finally, we’ve been hearing from vendors for a couple years that they are losing business because people have stopped carrying cash. This year, we have put staff resources into partnering with Google to develop a smartphone app that will allow people to purchase papers by scanning the bar coding on the paper. The app is in Google’s approval process, and we hope to have a beta version in the fall.
As we grow in new and exciting ways, we never stray from our core. Our newspaper is stronger than its ever been, as evidenced by 10 first place journalism awards we received from the Washington Press Association and the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In an era known for the continual decline of print media, our readership has been strong and loyal.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Every time you buy the paper, you are investing in progressive, independent media and the production of a great paper, the fearless long-term advocacy work we do and, most of all, our vendors, whose livelihoods depend on your support.