Thank you so much to the donors and advertisers who joined us for our Foods of Harpswell celebration in August! We are grateful, too, for the restaurants and cafes who donated their food, for our community sponsors who underwrote the costs of the event, and for our 50+ volunteers who worked vigilantly before, during and after the festivities.

It was a big undertaking, to be sure. Some folks have asked: why do we do it, especially when we’re not charging anything? I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to share with you my thoughts about how to “do” fundraising. 🙂This comes from 36 years of working in the field, from MIT and Harvard to the Boston Athenaeum to the Framingham History Center – and now the Anchor.

If you look at our mission statement, you’ll notice that it doesn’t mention publishing a newspaper every month, and that was by design. From the very beginning we at the Anchor regard our charter as broader than a newspaper – although that is our central function, and I think you’ll agree with me that it’s an excellent product!

Our charter goes on to say that we are “committed to building community and enhancing the lives of local residents, businesses and organizations.” We fulfill that goal by not only publishing our award-winning paper, but also providing free design services, offering a 20% advertising discount to local nonprofits, co-hosting an ongoing working waterfront panel discussion series, and offering free marketing support for new businesses in Harpswell. And of course, the local paper delivery is free. 

We can only do this with our community’s support. Roughly half of our revenue comes from tax-deductible donations from individuals. Think about that: half! That’s a lot. But you, Harpswell residents and visitors, have stepped up to make the Anchor YOUR paper, year after year, with your gifts. The same goes for advertising.

Foods of Harpswell is meant to give back, in gratitude for this amazing support. I am not a fan of fundraising events where you get a bunch of people together and give them a pitch, expecting them to open their wallets. Nonprofits sometimes have to resort to such a practice, but I prefer how we are doing it: building relationships with our donors, one reader at a time.

In my opinion, you don’t thank donors at the same time as you ask them for more money.

At the Anchor we are so grateful that we don’t have to do that. Because our community is already supporting us! 🙂

We need that support, make no mistake. We need to ask – but we only do that, in a concerted effort, once a year. As a professional fundraiser, I detest the constant appeals I receive in the mailbox and on my computer on a monthly – sometimes daily – basis.  But just as salaries and other costs constantly increase, we need even more support every year. In a month or two, we will be coming to you to open your hearts and wallets once more to make your annual donation during our Newsmatch 2023 program. Stay tuned!

As we move into our year-end fundraising drive, do we hope that our existing donors will consider increasing their gifts this year? Yes. Do we hope that people who have never donated before will do so in 2023? Absolutely. Do we think that maybe when you receive your appeal, you consider not only the importance of the newspaper, but also everything the Anchor does for Harpswell? Naturally. Would it be great if someone could consider what she should give, and think “gee, that appreciation event was fabulous. I think I’m going to put in a bit more?” Certainly.

We do need your generous support. We know that people give to nonprofits that are important to them. That have a direct impact on their lives.

We hope that the Anchor is one of those nonprofits for all of our neighbors and friends in Harpswell.

So many thanks once again – we won’t stop saying it and expressing it – for making the Anchor the model that it has become, for not only Harpswell but for other nonprofit news start-ups across the country.

P.S. While Foods of Harpswell has been an amazing success over the past two years, we can’t guarantee that we can host it every year. It is a lot to ask of our local restaurants to feed 400+ people, especially when they are struggling with high food costs and the problems of finding wait and kitchen staff in the summer. We are considering doing something of this magnitude every other year, perhaps something smaller in between.