Building Ruminate Up

by Keira Havens November 07, 2013

A few weeks ago I wrote about barnraising, working together to build up the arts institutions we love instead of scrambling to save them from the brink of collapse. That was the start of a long hard look at Ruminate’s finances, and the beginning of a journey towards fiscal sustainability. As part of that journey, we promised to be entirely transparent about money, where it goes, and where it is needed. Here is the first installment of that conversation. And here is the hard truth right up front: Ruminate does not break even. But we could—if every one of our Facebook followers purchased a subscription today, they would generate over $42,000, 96% of Ruminate's entire 2014 operating budget.

Ruminate prints four issues each year, with a total operating budget of $44,000. Each issue costs about $11,000 to produce: $4,500 for printing and shipping costs, and $6,500 for contributor payments and staff salaries. These are not unreasonable costs: the printer charges us only for the materials needed to print the magazine, the contributors are paid as little as $6 per page for their work, and our paid staff makes a bit more than minimum wage, an average of $7.66 per hour. This doesn’t include the efforts of our poetry editor, arts editor, web developer, content manager, fundraising lead, and the fifteen readers who help us sort through general submissions and contest entries—those people don’t get paid at all, yet we wouldn’t be here without them. To be perfectly frank, we’d like to increase these ‘costs,’ pay our contributors a substantial sum for their excellent work, offer our staff a living wage, and perhaps one day pay our blog contributors. However even on our current, skeletal budget, Ruminate struggles to make ends meet.

Ruminate generates income from donors, contest entries, and subscriptions. We are grateful for the amazing core of donors who support our work–their contributions cover about 25% of Ruminate’s budget, and we encourage you to join them if you can. The other 75% of the costs must be split between contest entries and subscribers. Right now, we send out about 600 paid copies of Ruminate each quarter, to subscribers (who pay $9.50 per issue, or $38 per year), and contest entrants (who pay $18 to enter and receive a copy of the magazine with their entry fee). This rate structure leaves us with a 12% deficit each quarter—a loss we can’t sustain.

We want Ruminate to remain accessible, and while we cannot avoid raising prices, we have done our best to lighten the burden. Contributors: general submissions will remain free and contest entries will rise two dollars to $20 per entry. Readers: subscriptions will now start at $44, and beginning with Issue 30, single issues will be $15. With our current readership, this will bring us to 102% of our operating budget. That is just enough to maintain the status quo. In order to grow, we need your help.

Help us increase the number of people reading Ruminate. Ruminate publishes the voices, words, and art of over 100 contributors each year, a collection curated by our editor-in-chief and the Ruminate staff. When you subscribe or give a subscription, you not only invest in this conversation about life, faith, and art, you directly support the people who make that conversation possible. So, tell a friend about us. This Christmas, give Ruminate as a gift to family members. Purchase a subscription for your small group, church, or writing collective. Share the art we publish with the people you love.


Keira Havens
Keira Havens

Author

Keira Havens grew up in Hawaii where she was fascinated by flowers, bugs, and the ocean. After receiving her bachelor's in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2004, she accepted a commission in the United States Air Force. She left active duty to pursue a degree in a synthetic biology laboratory and received her MS from Colorado State University in 2014. Along the way, she has volunteered and worked in nonprofit marketing and outreach. She joined Ruminate’s team in 2010 and currently serves as Ruminate's Marketing and Outreach Director.



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