Okay, I need help from the greater blogosphere. I’ve got an idea for a new non-profit organization, but I can’t do it by myself. I need other people, who aren’t interested in getting rich, to help share the burden of getting it off the ground and keeping it alive. The new non-profit will be named Localism and I’ve bought the localism.org domain (yeah, I couldn’t believe it was available either). In my experience as a surfer and rock climber, the word localism usually has dire connotations. I hope this venture can help change that a bit. Localism can also infer a combination of local knowledge and activism–thinking globally and acting locally.
In order to really understand the pitch that follows, you should already be familiar with Gawker Media and Weblogsinc. I’ll assume that you are, but if not, you might want to get up to speed by reading this. Also, the title of this post mentions the ‘Long Tail.’ If you’re not familiar with that phrase, you can come quickly up to speed with Chris Anderson’s original article in Wired and Robin Good’s summary of a Morgan Stanley analysis.
Place and topic
The basic idea behind Localism is the same as with Gawker and Weblogs Inc, but the primary organizational difference is that Localism will organize blogs across two dimensions–geographic location and topic. So you’d find blogs about snowboarding in Canada, in the PNW, and in the alps. Blogs about mountain biking in Hawai’i, Northern California and Vermont. Blogs about surfing in Oregon and blogs about surfing in Asia. Blogs about art in NYC and art in London. Blogs about professional sports teams, since they’re so closely tied to location. You get the idea–place and topic.
Like Gawker and Weblogsinc, Localism will derive its revenue through advertising. Because Localism is non-profit, ad placement purchases will be tax-deductible. Unlike Gawker and Weblogsinc, Localism won’t take the majority of revenue. I’m envisioning a revenue split along these lines: 10% to Localism to cover overhead; 40% to the blogger; 50% to a designated charity. The blogger definitely needs to be paid, but I’m still not sure what the best strategy is…percentage of ad revenue, or flat fee.
I’m envisioning Localism being able to dedicate the 50% revenue to a different international charitable organization each year. Initially, since I have contacts there, I’m thinking of pointing the first year revenues at NW Medical Teams. I’m open to alternate suggestions, though (I’m thinking along the lines of Ashoka, Right Sharing of World Resources, Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corp, Heifer Project, Doctors Without Borders). I don’t know if there’s a way to structure Localism so that this alternating of recipients can happen, but that’s part of the Help Wanted section below.
Bloggers and internal organization
I’m envisioning an organization that is similar to the DMOZ or wikipedia projects. A bunch of people with topical knowledge coming together for a greater good. Bloggers would be paid, but there would also need to be a board of directors that helps make decisions on who should blog, acceptable topics, what advertising can be accepted, etc.