BenitoLink Prospers Because of You

BenitoLink completes its first quarter as an independent nonprofit and encourages continued community support through Silicon Valley Gives

Until midnight May 3, you have the chance to support BenitoLink through the Silicon Valley Gives campaign. Without community support, there will be no BenitoLink.

Since we are ending our first quarter operating completely on our own, we thought you might appreciate some information about how BenitoLink is doing financially. We are now an independent non-profit, earning our way in the world through community support. So, it is a great time to reflect on where we are and where we have been.

BenitoLink is a website designed to serve the all people of San Benito County. Although we call ourselves “hyper-local," we have worldwide readers — throughout California and as far away as Canada, Mexico, even Australia. Despite the wide reach of the web, BenitoLink is meant to benefit you.

The Community Foundation for San Benito County deserves a lot of credit for where we are today. Some of you may have taken part in the community “Listening Sessions” that were held in 2012. They were a way to learn about the hopes and aspirations people have for their home county and their disappointments too. It helped us identify what San Benito residents really want. One of the needs, mentioned over and over again, was a good source of county news.

So with the help of the Community Foundation for San Benito County (CFFSBC), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a few courageous individuals, BenitoLink was born. For three years, the Knight Foundation, which was trying to resuscitate journalism, provided $50,000 a year, which allowed us to design and start-up the website.

Well, those days are over and this fall we achieved our own nonprofit, 501(c)(3) status and the Community Foundation for San Benito County gave us a fantastic send-off.

Through their normal grant review process, we were approved for a CFFSBC grant of $20,000, with the hopes of finding local support to match it. And we did it. Thanks to all sizes of donations from friends, family and our growing number of supporters, we brought in $20,000, which — when doubled by the CFFSBC grant — brought us to $40,000 gathered in our first month as a nonprofit.

San Benito County community members are essential to the health and well-being of BenitoLink, your source of news and information. We are now community-based and the response has been excellent. Thank you San Benito County. A strong and dynamic website will require a combination of individual donor members, our growing number of business sponsors, major sponsors and, possibly, grants. Fortunately, we now have a few individuals who support BenitoLink in a big way, sponsors who are represented on the website through graphics, and you, the donor/member. 

Since January, we have hit the streets and invited more local businesses to show their support through sponsorships on BenitoLink. And it’s going well. We've brought in around $25,000 thanks to both small and large businesses. We explain that BenitoLink is an experiment but is similar to the PBS model of community-based media. Whether you give a personal donation or a business sponsorship, the message you send is that you like what we are trying to do and want to see BenitoLink prosper.

Maybe you’re wondering how much the site needs to operate. Well, about $200,000 annually would be ideal! This year our budget is $90,000 but we are aiming for $140,000. That allows us to keep building a stable of reporters and photographers, so we can give the community the stories it wants. That is where the majority of our money is spent; getting you the news.

Over the next week, you will hear a lot about our fundraiser with Silicon Valley Gives. SVGives is an opportunity for you to support to the non-profits of your choice. We hope you consider giving to BenitoLink. We’re here for you and want you to know that your generosity affects not just the depth and quality of our news coverage, but whether we are here at all. 


Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.