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Reporting their first surplus in 2010, MinnPost's Joel Kramer shares their recipe for success.

MinnPost’s Joel Kramer on Funding

Joel Kramer

Joel Kramer

An interview with MinnPost’s Joel Kramer by JA’s Tram Whitehurst

Joel Kramer is the editor and CEO of MinnPost, a nonprofit news site serving the Twin Cities and Minnesota.

Founded in 2007 with $850,000 in initial funding, MinnPost has grown into one of the most respected nonprofit news sites in the country.

According to Kramer, the site had revenue of $1.25 million in 2010, about 25 percent of which came from advertising and corporate sponsorship. The remainder came roughly equally from foundations and members. About 2,400 members contribute amounts ranging from $10 to $20,000 a year.

“We’re doing quite well,” Kramer said. “Advertising and sponsorship revenue is rising, which is the plan. In 2010 we had our first surplus.”

MinnPost actively reaches out to advertisers and sponsors, Kramer said. They have a director of advertising and advertising support staff.

Sponsors are on annual contracts. They can sponsor content, departments and events. For example, the “Community Voices” section is sponsored by United Way.

Sponsors have no control over content, but they receive a variety of benefits, including public acknowledgments on the site. Kramer said four major sponsors account for about one-third of sponsorship dollars.

Advertisers can buy space on the site on a weekly basis. Their rate is based on the size and placement of the advertisement.

As for those looking to start a nonprofit news site of their own, Kramer said it’s important to have a significant amount of startup money.

“It’s very difficult to raise money the first year,” Kramer said. “Advertisers and sponsors want to see more of a history, and membership takes a while to build.”