Years ago, an employee described Advocate Media best: “So many dreams. So few people.”
Thirty years ago this month, we began with a simple goal: Help make life in Dallas more like life in a small town. Connect neighbors. Build friendships. Support local businesses.
Since the beginning — regardless of race, economics or politics — if you read The Advocate, you’re a neighbor.
To achieve that goal, then as now, we make our publications free to everyone. If we can help neighbors feel like a part of our neighborhood — particularly if work or family issues keep you from attending meetings or meeting the people next door — we’re doing something good.
Originally, we decided the best way to accomplish this goal was to ask neighborhood businesses to help pay the cost of distributing our print publications. Businesses bought affordable advertisements, and we told their stories to 180,000+ neighbors, hoping that readers realize many of the things we need are just down the street.
Our first publications were tabloid black-and-white newspapers hung on doors. Over the years, we switched to a magazine format with glossy paper and colorful neighborhood news and photography — always created by and for neighbors.
Then the internet allowed us reach more people more frequently as we added neighborhood websites with daily neighborhood news updates. Then we added social media sites and weekly email newsletters.
At some point in the daily small-business grind, we started facilitating more than 1 million engagements monthly among neighbors.
One thing about our business never changed. Although we’ve always been a “for-profit” entity, the “profits” didn’t amount to much compared with the efforts we invested.
That’s not a complaint, just the truth.
So as we reached our 30th year of neighborhood community service, we talked about how to put us on the right road for the next 30 years.
In 2021, we decided to recognize the reality of the community information business — instead of being marginally “for-profit,” why not reconfigure to be officially “nonprofit”?
Becoming a nonprofit better reflects our neighborhood status anyway — we’ve always tried to be a helpful, caring neighbor. Nonprofit status allows us to approach businesses with different sponsorship opportunities, and it allows us to ask readers to help in different ways, even as we continue donating more than $250,000 annually in media space and promotions to neighborhood schools, nonprofits and groups.
We’ve always leaned on readers for help, and your support is even more important as we begin our nonprofit journey. And while I’ll still be along for the ride, our nonprofit board will be led by publisher Jehadu Abshiro.
If you can join us, please do. From selling advertisements to writing stories to donating a few bucks, we need you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and we’ll tell you about our plans and our needs.
We’ll probably always have more dreams than people. I hope so, anyway. We need to stay idealistic and ambitious if we’re going to make a difference.