By Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal
I HAVE now written seven different intros to this article, which is unusual for me. It’s the result of an inheritance from my gran, a working class Presbyterian reticence to ask for money. But we need to ask for money. Let me tell you why.
We’ve taken five strategic approaches to fundraising with Common Weal. First, we try never to fundraise in competition with anyone else. There are lots of really important initiatives in Scotland just now (Bella, Women for Indy, RIC, Wings, Indy Live, National Collective, Newsnet – it’s a long list) and many have recently had fundraisers.
Common Weal is quite big and has quite a lot of profile and so we’ve tried not to get in anyone else’s way when they’re fundraising. Indeed we’ve tried to help where we can – Wings isn’t exactly in need of our promotion but we were delighted to run stories on Independence Live’s fundraising to add any awareness we could.
A second thing we don’t do is fundraise for things other people are doing or planning to do. Common Weal is covering a lot of areas and the last thing we wanted to appear to do was to empire-build at the expense of others. So for example, we held back from committing to producing a news service for the weeks after the referendum when there were a lot of different proposals.
It was only when it was clear that no-one was going to be in a position to employ news journalists that we went ahead with the CommonSpace news project (I’m not sure what we’d have done had we known The National was coming so you’ll just have to support us and buy The National every day).
We decided that we would not commission extended articles in our ‘opinion’ section on CommonSpace because Bella already does that and the last thing we want to do is compete. Likewise, we have been holding off on proposals for us to do more broadcast work (including an evening news bulletin) while others were trying to do the same. It is only now that it looks like other initiatives aren’t going to happen that we revisiting our plans. We’ve shelved our plans for a magazine because others are developing theirs.