we get to work on it!
We arrived home at dusk last Monday night from the Animal Rights 2016 conference in Los Angeles, a conference we were able to attend only because accumulated flyer miles covered the travel and speaker discounts offset the other expenses.
A gigantic limb from a perhaps century-old alder, the limb itself bigger than most alders ever grow to be, had crashed down in our driveway during our absence, cutting off all of our electronic communications.
Sword of Damocles
Worse, more than a ton of hardwood still hung by a few sinewy splinters like a wooden sword of Damocles, high enough up the trunk to come down abruptly at any moment with a further devastating impact.
Miraculously the eighteen-inch thick, 30-foot-long limb and the many side branches from it had not hit our home and office. Our cats, fed daily by a pet sitter during our absence, must have been terrified, but were not physically harmed.
Also miraculously, our car with 207,000 miles on it had not been in the driveway when the limb came down. We’d have had a hard time scraping up the scratch to make a big enough down payment on a replacement to secure a bank loan.
ANIMALS 24-7 was still up and running for readers, but temporarily we ourselves had no access to the site sufficient to do anything more than moderate comments and check readership via Beth’s trusty cell phone that she fondly calls “Phonie.”
Readership, we were pleased to see, had remained over 1,000 per day throughout our time in Los Angeles.
Most educated professional people who work chiefly on laptops and cell phones would have just called a tree service the following morning. Most people our ages certainly would have.
But for us that was not an option. We have never been afraid of hard work. I grew up using tools and have not forgotten how. The job ahead was dangerous, but we knew how to do it.
We were up and outdoors bright and early. Eight hours with chainsaw, maul, rope, rake, ladder, and other implements later, all was safely cleared away and cleaned up, and our local telecommunications service provider was able to restring 300 feet of cable to get us back online.
Working for $15 a day
Beth meanwhile collected our accumulated mail. Monthly bills totaling just over $2,000 had arrived, along with $75 in donations: $15 per day.
This was, of course, frustrating and disappointing. We make the in-depth ANIMALS 24-7 investigative news coverage accessible to the world free of charge, asking only the donations that make it possible.
We work seven days a week. Investigating and reporting on animal-related news beats has been my life’s work for nearly half a century. Beth has long served animal and human well-being as police officer, animal control officer, vet tech, and now photographer and social media editor for ANIMALS 24-7.
Surely what we do and what we offer here is worth at least as much as some of the art prints we saw auctioned off at the AR 2016 conference for more than our entire month’s budget!
What we need
Just 1,000 donors of $100 each––or 100 donors of $1,000 each––would be enough to keep ANIMALS 24-7 coming, posting new articles every day, for an entire year. That’s enough to employ our three-member professional team, cover our equipment costs, cover our online access fees, and cover our medical insurance.
Anything more could fund more in-person research at out-of-the-way places, more information-sharing at conferences, and more personal help to readers, like the hour that both of us just spent briefing a city council member in a distant state who urgently needed a great deal of background on a pending animal issue.
Having reached more than 650,000 readers since ANIMALS 24-7 debuted in April 2014, we should not be having the nightmares that I now have routinely about having to do all my investigating, reporting, and writing in the evenings and on weekends after driving a delivery truck or doing whatever other paid work I can find all day. Beth should not be having to think about returning to work as a vet tech.
By any reasonable measure of success, other than financial, ANIMALS 24-7 is a huge success. Our readership has grown steadily, attracting hundreds of decision-makers not only within the animal advocacy community, but also among legislators, insurers, veterinarians, public health physicians, media, and educators, whose work in many ways influences humane treatment of animals.
Off a cliff
We have attracted and are grateful for a very few high donors, whose help has kept us on the job so far. Two of them, a year ago, generously posted a sum which––if promptly matched––should have kept us working without fear of having to drive a delivery truck or go back to vet tech work for at least two more years.
Unfortunately, after an initial flurry of matching gifts from donors who mostly have relatively little to give, donor support, especially high donor support, fell off a cliff.
A year later, we have received only two new donations of $1,000 or more, and only three additional donations of $500 or more, even as our daily readership doubled!
Who doesn’t fund us
Let me briefly explain who we cannot turn toward for help:
# Most of the national and regional animal advocacy organizations that pay their chief executives more than our entire annual budget –– because our calls for accountability tend to make them very uncomfortable. (But this does not stop them from calling us for help when something needs writing about, that they don’t want to face political repercussions for exposing.)
# Any of the big foundations whose grantmaking follows the policy guidelines prescribed by the national advocacy organizations, which often have representatives on the foundation boards.
# Anyone actually in the animal industries. We don’t support or encourage animal use industries, period.
Can you spare 30¢ an article?
What that leaves is you. ANIMALS 24-7 is here and on the job, 24/7, because you care enough to donate the equivalent of just 30¢ for each article you read––far less than the cost of the cup of coffee you might drink while reading it.
The bad guys in the animal use industry and advocacy realms want me to be driving a delivery truck. The bad guys want Beth to be expressing dogs’ anal glands and worse.
We need a little help from our friends
But if they imagine this would make ANIMALS 24-7 shut up and go away, they’re wrong. Dead wrong. We are going to keep on coming, serving the animals’ interest––and you, as a concerned, conscientious, careful animal advocacy donor––come what will.
We just need a little help from our friends to keep on trucking full time on the animal news beat.
Thank you for your donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or more, or any amount you can manage, to help feed the ANIMALS 24-7 kitty!