The pandemic has dealt The Bridge a devastating blow. Advertising income, which is the financial lifeblood of the newspaper, has fallen sharply as our friends in the business and nonprofit communities struggle themselves. Additionally, The Friends of The Bridge was forced to cancel its annual spring symposium and gala, which is The Bridge’s largest fundraiser.
Now, like newspapers throughout Vermont and the nation, The Bridge has had to reduce editorial and production costs. Payroll has been cut, and for now, we are publishing a print edition once a month instead of our usual twice a month.
However, The Bridge has sharply increased the number of stories it is publishing on its website, montpelierbridge.org. And thanks to some loyal advertisers and the hard work of staff, along with many volunteers, we were able to publish this issue.
In the face of this uncertain future, an anonymous donor has stepped up to help The Bridge carry on. Every donation to Friends of The Bridge, up to $5,000, is being matched dollar-for-dollar through the end of April.
We are making progress on meeting the challenge and hopefully exceeding it, but we need more help. So, if you are able, please consider making a donation to The Friends of The Bridge by clicking the “Donate” button at the top of our web page today, or by mailing a check to the address at the end of this article. Every dollar of every donation counts!
The Bridge did apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan March 30, but we have heard nothing yet and are uncertain about the amount and whether we will qualify. Even if we receive the loan, it will not be enough to support full operations without more advertising income or donations.
Unfortunately, because of a quirk in the federal stimulus bill, The Bridge cannot apply for another SBA loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program. The law allows small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to apply, but The Bridge is a state-chartered nonprofit without a federal designation. Newspapers generally do not qualify for 501(c)(3) status.
Fortunately, our newly redesigned website, montpelierbridge.org, is operational, and we are using that vehicle to help deliver the news and information you need, with new stories being posted every day. This move to increased web-based operations, however, still requires staff time and the expenditure of additional funds for web design as we improve the site.
As you may know, Gov. Phil Scott has designated the gathering and dissemination of news as an essential activity. The Bridge staff and board of directors, and the Friends of The Bridge are committed to free local journalism. We all have a strong resolve to carry forward in service to the community now when news, information, connections, and hope are more important than ever.
If you are able, please help us meet our dollar-for-dollar match opportunity, which ends on April 30. Donations may be tax-deductible.
DONATE ONLINE—At montpelierbridge.org, click the DONATE button at the top of the home page.
MAIL A CHECK—Made out to “Friends of The Bridge” and mail to the Friends at P.O. Box 1641, Montpelier, VT 05601.