‘Light’ begins patron campaign

BY MIKE SHERWIN, MANAGING EDITOR

This month the St. Louis Jewish Light kicks off its 2009 Patron Campaign. The paper will send letters to previous donors on the anniversary of their most recent gift.

“We will be reaching out to our readers and supporters to ask them for their continuing support,” said Larry Levin, Publisher/CEO of the Light. The campaign is a crucial part of the newspaper’s funding each year, Levin added.

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“The patron campaign is essential to our ability to deliver quality local, national, international and Israel news to our Jewish community. We derive about three quarters of our revenue from our advertisers and sponsorships. We also receive generous funding from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. But even with those sources, we rely on our patrons to provide more than 15 percent of our ongoing operating support,” he said.

“Put quite simply,” said Judy Pass, a member of the Light’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Development Committee, “without the support of our patrons, there would be no independent Jewish newspaper in St. Louis.”

Levin said in the current financial climate, donations from readers are as important as ever. “There’s no question that the economy has affected advertising revenue in a substantial way,” he said. “We’re using every creative arrow in our quiver to bring as much meaningful news and analysis to our readers as possible in these challenging times. The support of our patrons is so important, perhaps more than ever, in allowing us to maximize our coverage and our connections to the community.”

Milton Movitz, president of the Light’s Board of Trustees, said the paper has been working to improve its print and web editions and noted the hiring of Editor Ellen Futterman – who spent 25 years as a journalist and editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — and a major technology upgrade initiative to improve efficiency at the Light.

“We are always looking to improve and put out a better paper. We want to bring to the entire Jewish community what is happening locally, nationally and internationally,” Movitz said. “Of course, all of that takes money.”

Levin said the Publishers Society — started in 2007 and comprising donors who give $500 or more — has become an integral segment of the Light’s donors. “This group of generous supporters sponsor many of our key special sections during the year, and receive recognition for their special contributions. Our Publisher’s Society has grown almost 30 percent since its creation. We are very excited about this increased support from a dedicated group of our supporters.”

Pass said she hopes to convey to readers that the Jewish Light serves an important community function. “Especially in these challenging times, organizations in St. Louis have come to depend on the Light to tell their stories, whether it be critical shortages at the Jewish Food Pantry, publicizing the Jewish Book Festival or showcasing the Jewish day schools. We are proud that we are able to keep the community connected.”

“As a Board Member,” Pass continued, “I am proud of the tremendous growth of the Light in the last year. We have a wonderful new publisher in Larry Levin, who has made tremendous changes in his short tenure. And more recently we have a new editor, Ellen Futterman, who has brought new vibrancy to the paper. As a result, our stories have become more interesting — it’s become more and more a paper that I want to read.”

Patron donor cards will be sent out to readers of the Jewish Light. If you have not received a patron mailer, you can make a donation online at www.stljewish-light.com or contact the newspaper at 314-743-3660 to request a patron card.