The food policy blog Civil Eats is a labor of love, with an all-volunteer staff of writers and editors. Born out of the slow foods movement, the site was started in 2008 and has been dedicated to covering food policy, farming, and pleasures of eating. Now, the site is working to transform itself from a volunteer organization to a professional one, while maintaining their independence.
That's why founders Naomi Starkman and Paula Crossfield turned to Kickstarter, with the hope of being able to pay their writers, hire a full-time managing editor and hire a corespondent in D.C. who will sit in on FDA, USDA, and EPA meetings.
"For five years, we have worked tirelessly to keep our readers informed on issues as broad as food policy in D.C., to stories from the frontlines of our changing food movement," Starkman said. "We have worked with hundreds of new writers, editing their work for free, and provided a free platform to some of the most innovative voices and ideas on the food scene."
Starkman said they did the work because it was necessary and filled a need as many newspapers have stopped covering food and farming issues. However, that continuing the work without pay is no longer sustainable:
"We don't think it is fair to continue to ask anyone to work for free (ourselves included) and, in fact, we feel that without paying for high quality stories and the people who maintain the site, our site is not a sustainable effort. We believe that what we do is well worth supporting and that it was about time that we try. Also, right now we are managing Civil Eats in addition to our daily, paid work. If it were funded, the site, which is a hub for the food movement, could go to the next level."
They are looking to raise $100,000 in crowd-funding, and have enlisted the help of Michael Pollan, Anne Lappé and Raj Patel to make the case for their Kickstarter campaign. Starkman says their future funding model includes foundation support. They're also in the process of developing an ongoing membership model. Although Civil Eats isn't ruling out ad-based funding, Starkman says they're more interested in pursuing other funding models. "We believe that online journalism is the wave of the future and that advertising is not going to save the day."