by Jane Solomon
I’ll cut right to the chase. If it’s going to continue publication, The Connection needs our financial support. Founder and editor Marlene Berlin has a bare-bones 2015 budget of $8,000, most of which has yet to be raised. I believe the Connection has enhanced our community life tremendously and in recognition of that, my husband Daniel and I are donating $500. I’m writing to encourage all of you to make a contribution too, be it large or small.
What will your donation pay for? The vast majority of the budget is to provide modest hourly compensation to Tracy Johnke, who has so ably served as The Connection’s webmaster since its inception. Officially Tracy spends 20 hours each month tending the publication. In fact she spends about 40 hours and we all benefit from the generosity of her time. The budget also includes approximately $1,000 for a needed upgrade to the website.
And that’s about it. At this point, there is no compensation for Marlene, who intrepidly pounds the pavement like a beat reporter tracking down stories, works her sources and solicits contributions – both written and financial. She logs about 20 hours each week in what has been, thus far, entirely a labor of love.
Is the Connection a success? The statistics say yes! Tracy cites what advertisers call “pageviews,” which by mid-December were over 81,000 for the year – up a whopping 30% over 2013.
Personally I’m more impressed by the “visitors” statistics because it’s easy to visualize. Over 22,000 people visited the Forest Hills Connection in 2014! That’s more people than fit into the Verizon Center, and nearly half of them visited the site repeatedly. These numbers bode well for the publication to be mostly if not entirely supported by advertising, but it’s not there yet.
Since the launch in 2012, funds have come from a variety of sources: individual contributions, a grant from the Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance, proceeds of the very successful “Art Walk”.
In addition, revenue from advertising placed by the ANC has been essential. Marlene hopes to devote more time in the coming year to developing more advertising revenue.
The Connection has done wonders to address needs long felt in Forest Hills. We now have a publication that provides news and information specifically about our neighborhood. We now have an outlet to share stories that inspire us.
For me, the most important service is the less tangible one: it weaves together the disparate threads of life in Forest Hills into the fabric of community. I hope you’ll join us in expressing your appreciation through a generous contribution.
Forest Hills Connection is a project of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance, a 501(c)3 organization, and contributions are tax-deductible. Click here to learn how to donate.