Harpswell News, the nonprofit organization that publishes the Anchor, is launching its 2022 NewsMatch program. Any tax-deductible gifts received between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by local and national sponsors, as well as the organization’s board of trustees.
Harpswell Realty, Land’s End Gifts, R.A. Webber, Safe Harbor Great Island, and The School House 1913 restaurant are NewsMatch’s Leadership Sponsors. Sustaining Sponsors are Engel & Völckers Real Estate, John Libby Construction and Roxanne York Real Estate.
Steven Rowe, who with his wife, Stephanie, runs the Safe Harbor Great Island marina, is a new business sponsor this year. “Harpswell is a wonderful group of communities spread across many islands and miles of shorefront — with no singular town center,” Rowe said. “The local news within the Anchor helps to link us all together and create a shared sense of community across the town. It’s why we at Safe Harbor marina are pleased to sponsor the 2022 NewsMatch program.”
NewsMatch’s local sponsors are sending a strong message to the community: The paper is a vital resource for the town. Christopher Gardner, of the School House 1913 — a sponsor for the second year in a row — said, “We here at The School House 1913 are very proud, in this small way, to be able to support our local paper, the Harpswell Anchor. Local journalism, and its continued future, is fundamental to everything we stand for. We are so proud to be able to be part of this wonderful promotion for another year.”
Board members have seeded the year-end campaign with their own pledges. “We are pleased to be initiating this drive with our own personal support,” said Greg Bestick, president of the board. “We have believed in the nonprofit model for local news since we launched in June 2021. It gives us all the chance to publicly express how important we think it is to provide nonpartisan, unbiased reporting to our community.”
Anchor readers will receive an appeal in the mail in early November. The letter emphasizes the impact that Harpswell News has had on Harpswell, beyond publishing an award-winning newspaper. For example, when a group of Harpswell residents launched the Anchor last year, they never expected to attract regional and even national attention. Even before renowned journalist Bill Nemitz wrote about the project in his Maine Sunday Telegram column last November, they were receiving calls from other local news startups around the country, asking for advice about how to replicate the Anchor’s success.
Doug Warren, vice president of the board and a former editor at The Boston Globe and the Miami Herald, said, “The Anchor’s nonprofit model offers a potential way forward for local news operations, and as such, has drawn the attention of state and national media. It’s an exciting time to be at the Anchor!”
Roughly half of Harpswell News’ revenue is composed of tax-deductible gifts from readers. These donations support everything the Anchor does: report the news and publish features in print as well as online (harpswellanchor.org), the community calendar, tide chart, letters to the editor, and posts on Facebook. They also help the paper support the community through its online Nonprofit Corner, free design help, discounts on nonprofit ads, free subscriptions and low advertising rates.
Donations also help the organization pay freelance writers and do in-depth reporting on issues important to Harpswell, such as the working waterfront. Other programs include Harpswell News’ Small Business Marketing Initiative, a program that provides free marketing consulting and a free, well-designed ad for new small businesses in town.
The third part of the match is provided through the Miami Foundation and the Institute for Nonprofit News. These organizations have raised millions of dollars from large, national foundations like the Knight Foundation, IndependenceMedia, and the Democracy Fund. The funds are divided among members of the Institute for Nonprofit News, including Harpswell News, that successfully apply for the grant. This grant is adding $10,000 to the total match.
Last year’s NewsMatch program was wildly successful, with more than 550 readers making donations. Donors reported that they loved the paper and were glad to have it back in operation under the new nonprofit model.
“We were amazed and humbled by the community’s response,” said Connie Sage Conner, a member of the Harpswell News board. “But we were also new last year, and people were excited about the expanded paper. Now it’s vital that we continue the momentum, that our readers maintain and even increase their support.” The organization hopes to exceed its 2021 results, since costs are rising commensurate with inflation.
Several months ago a reader wrote to the Anchor: “Harpswell doesn’t have a real center, and we are all spread out across many geographies. The Anchor provides a virtual town common, a bridge that connects us all.”
The board and staff of the Anchor agree, and hope that readers do, too. Questions or comments can be sent to Janice Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-504-4428.