Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grayer Times

After glancing at this issue of Street Sense or the previous one, some of you might have wondered if something has changed. You might have questioned: “Why is my paper so thin?”, “Why does it look so gray?” or “Is this paper smaller?”

Well, something has changed. As you have read, here in this publication and in various other media, the economy looks bleaker every day and these tough times are hitting all individuals and businesses hard. And nonprofits like Street Sense are not immune. As the Catch–22 of social services nonprofits goes, in a bad economy demand for services rises, but the money to fund such services becomes scarcer.
Street Sense has seen its vendor numbers increase 35% over the past year, with circulation increasing by nearly 30%. Yet at the end of 2008, individual donations, while numerous, were not nearly as large as past years. Grant income also fell short. And many predict both of these areas of nonprofit income will only get worse in 2009.

To prepare Street Sense for a worst–case financial scenario in 2009, we decided to cut back on our expenses. That’s where the changes to the actual newspaper came in. We decided to shrink the paper by an inch vertically, only shrinking the printable area by half an inch. We also decided to switch from bright white 35 lb. paper to a 20 lb. newsprint paper, the kind we used when we first started publishing Street Sense.

These two small changes will save the organization about $450 each issue, or more than $11,000 a year. And with a budget of just over $205,000 for 2009, $11,000 is a nice little chunk of change to save. While losing color on the front, back and center would also have saved money, we decided it was important to keep, helping with visibility and vendor sales.

So yes, Street Sense may look a little grayer and smaller than it has it the past, but you are still getting your dollar’s worth and then some as our editorial content — I think — has been better than ever, with hard–hitting news stories and unique features. Also each time you buy a paper, you can be confident that even more of our resources, and yours, will go directly to empowering our vendors rather than to aesthetics.

--Laura Thomspon Osuri