BenitoLink hosted a “Thank You” evening for its sponsors, donors and supporters Saturday September 23. It was a gorgeous San Benito fall evening with stimulating conversation, outstanding local food and beverages and a special treat to close out the event.
After operating as a non-profit for almost two years, the BenitoLink Team felt it was appropriate to say “Thank You” in a meaningful way. It was important to everyone involved in the website that guests went home full, happy and understanding the important role they play in keeping the community informed.
The late afternoon event was held at the scenic new Lemon Orchard venue set to open Spring 2018. The site has been developed by Ty and Janet Lompa and is a serene, captivating location just outside of Hollister. Tremendous thought has been put into the property design, and the artistic elements of the venue are spectacular.
The evening was a chance to recognize supporters and thanks to them, the progress the BenitoLink community-based news project has made as a nonprofit. Today BenitoLink reaches about 20,000- 25,000 unique visitors each month and its readership goes far beyond San Benito County lines. In August, the site achieved its highest number of unique visitors at 42,000/month.
Everyone invited to the occasion was elevated to the status of “BenitoLink Founding Member”. Because of their financial support, BenitoLink is now recognized as San Benito County’s primary news source.
BenitoLink Founding Members will be informed about special events in advance, invited to discuss ongoing county issues and provide input on local news coverage. They can also attend BenitoLink monthly “open editorial” meetings.
In the seated areas, guests were invited to write comments, share story ideas and identify San Benito County hot topics. Comments showed engagement in BenitoLink and expressed pride in a genuine community-based news website. Several guests confirmed their trust in local news above national news providers.
“Thanks to your efforts, our viewership has grown 378% since 2014," the newsie flyer distributed guests stated.
Guests enjoyed a variety of appetizers from Thyme Catering, locally owned Brewery 25 provided their popular beers and a beautiful Cabernet was poured by Epicentrum Wines. Alicats Syrah, Calera Chardonnay and lemonade were also fully appreciated.
BenitoLink provided an exclusive treat for the group as a way of showing the team’s sincere appreciation. Natalia Pressman, a professional pianist gave a private performance specifically for the benefit of Founding Members. Pressman, a very talented and accomplished pianist lives in San Benito County and plays for the San Jose Ballet. As the sun started to fade into the horizon, Pressman brought the evening to perfection.
Past BenitoLink Content Director, Adam Breen, was recognized for his important role and the extraordinary contributions he made to the news site’s success. Several reporters and contributors were also mentioned for their hard work and dedication.
The BenitoLink Board of Directors thanked Leslie David for her effort to bring BenitoLink into independence and develop a financially sustainable model for local journalism.
It was announced that BenitoLink reporter Laura Romero, a San Benito County native and bilingual journalist, will take on more responsibilities with the website by helping expand an “online subscribing member campaign”.
Veteran journalist Jack Foley, was introduced as a new member of the BenitoLink team. A formal announcement will be posted on BenitoLink this week.
How BenitoLink is Funded
Local businesses like the sponsors who attended the event play an important role by buying spots on the website that promote their services, showing support for community information at the same time. Business sponsors make up about a third of BenitoLink’s annual revenue. Purchasing a sponsored block on BenitoLink is showing an interest in a well-informed community.
BenitoLink currently has two fundraisers each year, The Pledge of Champions in the fall and San Benito Gives in the spring. The website is fortunate to also have major donors who choose to support the website as a service to their community. BenitoLink individual donations range from $25 a year to $20,000. All levels of support are highly valued. BenitoLink is here to serve the whole community and small donors tell us we have a good representation of our community at the table.
In addition to these revenue streams, BenitoLink will be developing a campaign that will work toward attaining subscribing members at different levels who we hope will grow to a substantial number over time.
Special gratitude goes to Jeanene Seiler who made the magical evening happen, Natalia Pressman who, we wished could have played all night, Apricot King for dessert to die for, Reno and Alexander who saved us from car chaos, Marci Huston's GardenMart for adding more life to the patio, Suncoast Farm for delicious bread, Brigantino's award winning olive oil, Dillon's artsy comment sheets and Karminder's lovely flowers.