August 22, 2014 by Michael Stoll and Lila LaHood
Was it the novelty? Passion for investigative reporting? Unbridled bicycle mania?
It took all three to inspire more than 1,000 people to back the San Francisco Public Press’ Kickstarter campaign for Pedal-Powered News — a quirky but popular initiative to use bicycle delivery to expand distribution of our local nonprofit newspaper to reach more subscribers, retail outlets and community centers throughout San Francisco.
The Public Press has published independent public policy reporting at sfpublicpress.org since 2009 and produces a quarterly ad-free print edition. We always knew we needed to do something inspirational to expand our audience, so we highlighted a key operational need and built an engaging crowdfunding campaign around it.
We raised $21,328 outright — more than double our goal. But it would not have happened without the support of Knight Foundation, which worked in collaboration with the Investigative News Network to offer up to $10,000 in matching funds, based on our ability to recruit 1,000 donors. It was an experiment to see how nonprofit newsrooms could use crowdfunding to bring in new readers and expand their local donations.