Money & Business

Friday Buzz: A Friendly, Partisan Donation Duel

By / Dec 11, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A popular nonprofit political magazine boosts reader donations by encouraging a little friendly competition with its larger rival. Also: Could “Happy Birthday” finally be free of copyright?

December is an important month for two bastions of independent political journalism: Reason and Mother Jones.

The former is a popular libertarian magazine whose roots go back nearly five decades; the latter is a larger progressive icon that will celebrate its 40th anniversary in February. Both are operated by nonprofit foundations, so they’re focused on getting donations at the end of the year.

Naturally, this creates a perfect opportunity for friendly competition, something noted earlier this week by the New York Observer. See, Reason Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch saw Mother Jones‘ donation-encouraging blog post, “There’s One Piece of Democracy That Fat Cats Can’t Buy,” and he saw the perfect piggybacking opportunity. He wrote a post of his own, “Donate to Reason in the Webathon’s Final Hours, Because You Want to Crush Mother Jones Like a Grape!,” that copy-and-pasted large chunks of the Mother Jones post and added links to Reason‘s donation drive.

“We want our fundraiser to be bigger, and its percentage of our overall operating budget to be much bigger,” Welch wrote. “In order to ensure that, let’s quote from their pitch.”

Most nonprofits couldn’t get away with anything nearly that snarky (but, it should be noted, meant in good fun). However, it worked for Reason, which drove $246,000 in donations last week, about 10 percent more than its previous record.

Mother Jones‘ campaign, by the way, is still going, with a goal of raising $200,000.

A Settlement to Celebrate

Last month, we pointed out the convoluted copyright history behind “Happy Birthday,” one of the most popular songs in the English language—and a tune for which one association was vying for copyright ownership.

But that might be about to change, thanks to a settlement announced this week that will likely put the tune in the public domain. The primary party in the settlement was Warner/Chappell Music, but the Association for Childhood Education International, which intervened in the case last month arguing it had a claim to the song, was also party to the settlement. That’s a good a sign, experts say, that the song will finally be free of copyright once and for all.

So our question is: Where’s the cake?

Other Links of Note

“The key to making mistakes is not the mistake, but what you do AFTER you’ve determined you’ve made a mistake.” — Effective Database Management’s Wes Trochlil, discussing the nature of mistakes.

How concerned should you be about ransomware? Delcor breaks down the risk, and what can be done to mitigate it.

One inbox to rule them all: If you have a lot of web mail in a lot of different places, you might find Yahoo Mail’s new integration with Gmail pretty handy. It also integrates with Microsoft Outlook and AOL Mail, by the way.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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