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How raises money for journalists through crowdfunding

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The Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers held a webinar for journalists, media editorial boards and freelancers entitled “Crowdfunding a Journalist Story from the Ground Up”. Journalists from the TV2 News Agency from Tomsk go on expeditions and tell their viewers about different Russian cities. Yulia Korneva, editor and creator of the project, shared how she raises money for the trips through crowdfunding as part of a regional newsroom.

“When you are known and loved by a part of the audience and readers – you can already start with that,” says Yulia Korneva about successful fundraisers for trips to expeditions with a film crew. One of her secrets the journalist considers feedback from all donors – in the montage in the credits she indicates those who sent money for the expedition, to show that without these people, nothing would happen.

The speaker says that there are a lot of donors – they are from different cities of Russia, of different ages and with different interests. “Thanks to Yandex.Kassa that it does not accept transfers from abroad,” jokes Yulia Korneva when asked about foreign transfers and the risk of becoming foreign agents. The journalist also says that everyone who helps is motivated differently. Unlike crowdfunding platforms like, their editors do not send souvenirs, postcards, or photos in return – people donate money for nothing because they want to see new images from the expeditions.

However, the speaker singles out several possible “motivators” to send money:

History of a native land or family – when people see the theme of the expedition and support specific activities in the area where they are from or where their relatives once lived;

The desire to get involved in a good project – for many, participation in crowdfunding or charity stories is an opportunity for self-presentation on social media or just among a circle of friends;

An opportunity to become a contributor to the shoot – the names of donors get on the list of acknowledgements, many get in touch with the editor after the translations and offer their topics, stories, and even help.

Yulia Korneva says there are viewers who have been with them for a long time, and there are those who only come for a particular story. During the two years of the project, the editorial staff received 726 donations – some people transferred funds 15 times in small amounts, some once, but 45 thousand rubles.

The journalist considers another important way of interaction with the audience to be communication after the transfer of funds – she spares no time and corresponds with everyone who has transferred money to the project. Also during editing, when the collection is already closed, Yulia Korneva collects all the accounts of the donors and makes a mass mailing about the results of the work, after which a correspondence is established. After such communication, one of the viewers suggested adding a “Come with us” button, so that there would be an opportunity to join the expedition. This does not mean that the editorial board collects trekking, but rather that people have the opportunity at some point to become a participant in the filming, to help with transportation, thus becoming part of the film crew. Yulia Korneva says that now she has a specific list of people who are willing to help give a ride at any time.

- We had one guy who transferred money twice, then brought to our editorial office “bogoniki” for me and another journalist, then planted the subject for the project. It was an old windmill, and I googled it and realized that no one had ever filmed about that place. Then I suggested that he come with us, because he didn’t live far away. So the young man practically organized one of our expeditions. But before this result there was a lot of work on interaction with him and with other donors, – says Yulia Korneva.

The journalist emphasizes that it is impossible to send formal letters, otherwise people will have a feeling of communication with the computer. Viewers of TV2 understand that a real person corresponds with them, because, according to the speaker, only once in response to a message she received a letter: “I hope I’m not talking to a robot.”

Yulia Korneva said that she has a list not only of people who are ready to help with transportation, but also those who live in remote parts of the country and, if anything, can tell you where to fix the car, stay overnight or just how best to get to a certain area. The speaker notes that for many people, participating in an expedition is not as important as participating in a shooting.

- It turns out that the saying “Don’t have a hundred rubles, but have a hundred friends” starts in our case with just a hundred rubles, and ends with a good friendship, – says Yulia Korneva.

An important part of the expeditions is the opportunity to capture old villages still alive, to tell about the traditions and way of life of those who live in the tundra, in the wilderness, in the woods. Each expedition is a story of people. Once, according to the journalist, during a trip to an Old Believer village the project team managed to reunite relatives:

- In the video, the woman talks about her family and shows pictures of Old Believers – grandfather and uncle from an old criminal case. A man from Krasnodar wrote in the comments of the video with a question about who is in the photo at the 42nd minute. I answered that everything was signed, and I forgot about the story. And then it turned out that the commenter’s grandfather was in the photo.

The journalist says that not all plans were realized. So, she and her team planned a trip to the Krasnoyarsk region, but their traveling companion turned out to be an unreliable person – she could easily disappear for a month, not get in touch. Yulia Korneva says she immediately realized that she was not ready to go on the expedition with this person, so the trip had to be canceled. But many viewers had already donated money for the filming of this story. The journalist was worried that people would start to resent it, but they, on the contrary, supported the team and said that they gave the money with the expectation that the project team would decide how to use it. This is why, in addition to individual crowdfunding stories, the TV2 website offers the opportunity to support the editorial team itself and the expedition project as a whole.

You can use the ePlaza Classifieds bulletin board to inform donors about your crowdfunding campaign. Please follow this link

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