NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's free independent newspaper is going to be able to translate even more articles into Spanish and produce more high-quality bilingual videos, thanks to support from our readers and the Beacon Reader Foundation.
For the second year in a row, New Brunswick Today (NBT) raised over $15,000 using the online crowdfunding platform Beacon Reader, while our "backers" earned souvenirs including NBT pins, subscriptions, t-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers.
During a similar effort in February 2015, 148 community members pledged $10,875 to support our work, and the first $5,000 was matched generously by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
This time around, the Beacon Reader Foundation provided full matching funds up to $7,500, but only if NBT was able to raise that much from at least 375 community members in just 30 days.
Thanks to our readers, we were able to exceed our goal on March 25, the final day of the campaign, raising a total of $7,988 from 397 backers, and unlocking the $7,500 in matching funds.
The funding will allow NBT to delve even deeper into an issue that deeply affects New Brunswick and many other communities in NJ: immigration.
It will also enable us to translate more of our English language content into Spanish, and to produce more videos that appeal to people who speak either language. Since last year's campaign ended, NBT translated over 100 articles and launched a weekly bilingual web video series.
Donations made through Beacon's journalism-oriented crowdfunding platform often were accompanied by encouraging votes of confidence in NBT on the "Discussion" section of project page.
"I like to know what’s 'really' going on in New Brunswick," wrote Csilla Soproni, the 395th person to make a pledge. "You report the news with honesty and integrity. I depend on that. Thank you!"
"This is pretty much the only thing I’ve contributed money for in a long, long time," said Armando Luis Alvarez. "You guys need all the support you can get and I totally stand behind your mission and purpose! Good luck out there."
"New Brunswick Today does a lot for the community. This time around, the community should help out New Brunswick Today," posted another reader who supported the campaign.
"Es importante saber, leer, eradicar nuestra ignorancia," wrote Teresa Vivar, the leader of the non-profit community organization Lazos America Unida. It's Spanish for, "It's important to know, to read, to eliminate our ignorance."
The campaign also gave New Brunswick Today the chance to send some of our readers trendy apparel so they can show their pride in the Hub City.
The popular "BRUNSWICK PRIDE" shirts will be returning, with one sent to everyone who contributed either $50, $100, $200, or $1,000 to the campaign.
The campaign also deepened NBT's ties with other journalists and organizations that support journalists.
"I hope you get fully funded with tons and tons of people," posted Ronald Miskoff, Treasurer of the NJ Society of Professional Journalists.
"I’m proud to support this much needed effort to expand their coverage — and their community relationships — with the roughly 50% of residents who speak Spanish," said Fiona Morgan of Free Press, an organization that has partnered with NBT.
"I’m a huge fan of New Brunswick Today’s work and I think it’s indispensable to the people of the Hub City. Keep it up!" wrote Joe Amditis of NJ News Commons, one of the organization's that first helped New Brunswick Today with funding in 2013.
NJ News Commons, which is based out of Montclair State University, recently teamed up with NJ Spotlight on a simliarly successful crowdfunding effort using the Beacon Reader platform.
NBT's campaign discussion page also gave our readers a chance to tell us what it was they liked about our news organization.
"Nb today always tells the impartial truth," wrote one reader. A friend of the paper thanked us for not being selective in our news coverage.
"You cover news about the local community and you have great writers who are part of your staff."
"This NBHA stuff has been highly entertaining," said another old friend, referring to the shenanigans we have uncovered at the New Brunswick Housing Authority.
Many backers used the word "vital" to describe the importance of local news to the New Brunswick community and to democracy itself.
"Independent reporting is vital for an informed citizenry," wrote Jane Akre a journalist and activist whose work focuses on Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest corporations.
"New Brunswick Today provides vital local news and is an invaluable community resource," said Albert Nigrin of the NJ Film Festival.
Perhaps the most rewarding comments to read came from current and former NBT staffers who have already sacrificed to get us to where we are today.
"Information is currency and New Brunswick Today makes the city a richer place in a thousand ways you see and a thousand you don’t," wrote Erik Straub, a former writer and Advertisting Director who increased NBT's audience on social media at the same time we launched the only bilingual print newspaper in the state.
Straub is now based out of Boulder, Colorado, where he is part of the team behind the crowdfunding start-up success, Kickfurther.
Straub said in his comment that he knew first-hand how far our organization can stretch the value of the generous contributions we recieve: "I know every dollar I give to NBT is going to be stretched and multiplied by their incredible staff into so much more than I paid for."
Even though Straub no longer works for New Brunswick Today, his parents still joined the list of backers early on, providing a much-needed boost to the fundraising.
"We fully believe in NB Today. We appreciate your work to keep this honest news coming," wrote Straub's proud parents, Sheila and Chris. "We learned about this from Erik and from you. We really appreciate that you are committed."
Our readers can donate to New Brunswick Today any day of the year at www.NewBrunswickToday.com/sign-up.
New Brunswick Today's bilingual print edition is available for free all over town, but it is also available via US mail anywhere in the country for just $5 per month.
There are two ways to subscribe to New Brunswick Today:
- sign up to make a monthly contribution with a credit card at www.NewBrunswickToday.com/sign-up, or
- mail a check or money order to NBToday, PO Box 3180, New Brunswick NJ 08903, and let us know where you want the paper to be sent