Guardian US has racked up more than 300,000 paying supporters in the year since it began asking American readers to voluntarily contribute funds to support its journalism.
The contributions now account for more than a third of the newspaper’s revenue.
“Because The Guardian is owned by the Scott Trust, with no shareholders or powerful proprietor to please, all of our profits are reinvested in our journalism,” wrote John Mulholland, editor of Guardian US, and Evelyn Webster, CEO, in a 2017 annual report released to readers today.
The group of U.S. supporters include a mix of members, recurring contributors, one-time contributors and digital subscribers, according to the company.
The Guardian does not ask readers to commit to paying a certain amount every month for a year, like most digital subscriptions, but instead to make a one-time payment, or set up monthly payments, starting from $2.
“Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism as open as we can,” reads a blurb on the Guardian US’ site. “The Guardian's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But the revenue we get from advertising is falling, so we increasingly need our readers to fund us. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.”
A blurb appears beneath most articles asking readers to sign up for a membership or contribute to the site in a one-time payment.
In October 2017 the Guardian announced it had 800,000 supporters globally — 500,000 making recurring monthly payments (as subscribers, members or recurring contributors), and 300,000 who had made one-off donations.
This is a unique initiative to support the news business. A number of other publications like The New York Daily News, The Atlantic and Wiredhave opted this year for more traditional metered paywalls, citing insufficient print and digital advertising revenue and the need to find funding through other means.
Guardian USlaunched a fundraising campaign in June to raise $50,000 to finance an editorial series focused on the government’s attempt to sell public lands, called “This Land Is Your Land.” It raised $114,000 over a two-month period.
The Guardian has since launched two more reader-funded series, one on motherhood and another on ending gun violence.
Guardian US redesigned its site this month as part of a three year plan by London-based parent company Guardian Media Group -- which publishes The Guardian’s U.K. and U.S. editions and The Observer -- to cut costs and balance its books by April 2019.
In the last financial year, the company lost £45 million (or about $59 million).