In the first article this month, we considered our financial needs in general and discussed what value we feel we provide to you, our readers.
In this article we will consider our costs more closely.
What does it take to produce a website such as this one? Three things: technology, content and interaction. The third – interaction – is free and mostly provided by you, the readers. And it certainly is a major contributor to the overall value of the site. But the interaction ‘sits’ on top of the content – the original articles – provided by authors either from within the Spectrum Web Team or solicited by the team. And this content ‘sits’ on top of technology – a hardware / software mix that drives the website. These last two categories cost money. Let’s examine these costs more closely.
More than a year ago Spectrum magazine had a simple website which is still visible, but unmaintained, here: http://old.spectrummagazine.org. During 2007 Spectrum also ran a blog website, moderated by Alex Carpenter, still visible but unmaintained, here: http://spectrummagazine.typepad.com. Costs for these two ventures were quite modest, both for technology and staffing. But during 2007 Adventist Forum received a substantial grant that was used to develop the website you now see. This effort was not trivial or cheap. PingVision was retained to do the design and part of the grant was used to pay them to create the organization and administrative flexibility now being used. The remainder of the grant was used to hire and provide initial stipends for a small staff to provide oversight and content to the site. So the Spectrum Blog, Collegiate Blog, Book/Film Reviews, Interviews, and Café Hispano are coordinated by individuals receiving modest stipends. Additional staff is either volunteer or obtained from time-sharing by Spectrum Magazine editor Bonnie Dwyer and Associate Editor Leigh Johnson.
After launching the current website readership took off and is still climbing. And in February 2008 our web hosting provider told us the traffic levels were too high for a shared machine and the website was moved to a more costly, but also more expandable and stable stand-alone machine. Since then traffic increases have necessitated adding both more memory and disk.
So what are current costs?
Equipment rental ~ $1200/year
Technical support ~ $6000/year
Web Team stipends ~ $21,500/year
Total: $28,700/year (or $76.63/day!)
Note that this doesn’t include the cost of an advertising coordinator, presently $6000/year. The ads are sold both for the magazine and website so, if this stipend were divided evenly, it would increase the website budget to $31,700.
You can obviously see that the majority of cost is to produce content rather than provide technical support, although both are substantial for us. Adventist Forum is not a ‘fat’ organization. If you look at the financial data from our 2008 Annual Report – posted on our website here: http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2008/10/05/adventist_forum_20072008_ann..., you will see that total income for fiscal 2008 (ended June 30, 2008) was $184,500, which was fairly flat against the previous year when there were no recurring expenses for a website.
And, up to the present, very little income has come from donations by website participants – you the readers. Partly this is because we have not been very direct in asking you. Partly this is no doubt because many readers cannot afford to contribute at all. Partly this is because we have not explained the financial background, our needs and placed the case before you. That is what this month’s fund-raising campaign is intended to begin doing. We do not want to be ‘in your face’ about our financial needs – some Spectrum equivalent of the too-familiar PBS TV ‘whining for dollars’ campaigns that intrude and detract from your experience. But still, we want to be forthright in asking you to help. If you have appreciated the articles and interaction of this venture, and if you have the means, we want to be totally clear – your financial support is very much needed. Have you received value from this website? If so, please consider contributing.
In the next article, we’ll discuss how Adventist Forum as an organization has historically been funded and how the website fits into that picture.
Chairman - Adventist Forum Revenue/Finance Committee