For several years now, we’ve made an effort to “give back” in some substantial way here at Stock Gumshoe — we’ve done this in a few different ways and benefitting a half dozen or so different charities over those years, and every year we’ve set a new record for how much we (well, really you) have been able to contribute.
How do we do this? Well, we have a charitable membership drive — we always need new members to join the Irregulars (you’ve probably noticed that Stock Gumshoe hosts advertising, but paid members cover more than half of our annual budget), so we try to make it a “win win” and build up our membership rolls at the same time that we’re doing something for the greater good.
What are the Irregulars, and what’s a “premium member?” They’re the same thing, the Irregulars are our paid members, they keep the site going and get a few extra benefits as a result — including a weekly article I write just for them called the Friday File, “Idea of the Month” articles profiling appealing investments, notes about my personal portfolio, the ability to start your own discussion threads, some special columns like Myron Martin’s commentary about junior miners or some of Doc Gumshoe’s pieces, and a quick little summary of every new teaser article. The details are here if you’re curious.
Here’s what we’ve been able to do over the last four years of this campaign — we tend to split the donations most years, and some of these groups have been recipients more than once:
Hope for the Warriors: $2071.75
International Committee of the Red Cross: $1,000
Food Bank of Western MA: $5,559.56
Homes for Our Troops: $5,075.62
Heifer Project International: $1,300
American Red Cross: $3,837.81
So that’s a total of almost $19,000 in donations we’ve been able to give since 2009, not big by some standards but huge for us … and Stock Gumshoe has been slowly growing over the years so half of that total came from last year alone, when we expanded the program and raised the portion we donate.
I very much want to beat that number, so we’re making it bigger again.
When we first launched our charitable membership drive, we promised to donate a portion of all the new member contributions for a week … and that made for a nice donation from our small and growing cadre of Irregulars for a couple years. We’ve tried to goose the total amount each year in a variety of ways … and last year, we broke through to a new record by moving from a week to ten days and by donating not just half of all new membership payments, but also half of all renewal payments. Since this is our busiest time of year for membership sales, those renewals are a big part of Stock Gumshoe’s annual revenue and that let us double the donations from the year before.
So how can we make it bigger still? We’re going to add a couple days to make it a longer time period again, bumping it up to twelve days from last year’s ten, and we’re also going to stick with donating half of all the membership payments, whether new folks or renewals.
I hope we’ll hit a new record again.
But to help inspire you, in case you’re already a member and your renewal doesn’t come up during this time period, I’ll also give it one more little jolt this year.
As you might know, we also offer a “Platinum” membership — it’s the same as the other memberships, you get the same commentary and information, but it’s good for life with no renewals (and no, we don’t charge a “maintenance fee” or anything to platinum folks). We tend not to lose many Irregulars each year and the Platinum membership isn’t such a good deal for us financially — so it’s about to change. In case you were thinking of upgrading to “lifetime” membership we’ve got a one-time inducement to see if we can drive our donation amount higher this year.
Is it “on sale” now? No, we don’t do promotions and sales, other than this annual charitable drive — but the last spur to action for you is that Platinum membership will be going up in price at the end of this membership drive. Not sure what the new price will be, we’ll have to get the number crunching done, but if you want “lifetime” access to Stock Gumshoe for $200 this is your last chance at it.
(Why is it called “Platinum?” Because the credit card folks don’t like us to call it a “lifetime” membership. What you get is a membership in the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars for as long as this site exists, no renewals ever. Stock Gumshoe is well into its seventh year, and I’m not planning on stopping.)
Here are the nuts and bolts:
Click here for information on joining the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars and the easy signup page.
Or Click here if you’re already a free member and would like to upgrade (that way you can keep the same username and password — if you don’t remember your username, just contact us). If you’re joining as a Platinum member and already have an ongoing monthly, quarterly or annual membership, contact us and we’ll make sure to cancel that other ongoing membership for you so you don’t get charged for renewals in the future.
And the promise is, to be clear:
We will make a charitable contribution equal to half of Stock Gumshoe’s gross subscription revenue over the next
10 days. So for every renewal or new annual membership in the Irregulars ($49), we’ll donate $24.50, for every Platinum membership ($200) we’ll donate $100. Same for quarterly and monthly payments, whether renewals or first time memberships — half of the money that comes in from the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars over the next ten days will go to a charitable cause. We’re not taking out the credit card processing or bank fees, or any of our other expenses — half of the top line number between now and December 13 goes to charity.
No, you can’t claim this as a charitable deduction, they don’t “pass through” that way (though if you itemize your investing costs, like margin interest or a Barron’s subscription, membership in Stock Gumshoe might also be deductible — check with your tax person).
Which cause? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to several different organizations that I like, all are doing important work and I think that all are well-run and relatively efficient … and since I know many of you have strong feelings about which organizations you support, all are charitable groups that I consider pretty non-controversial and that I would be willing to contribute to personally (I’m sure not everyone will agree with that, and doubly sure that these won’t be your top five choices, so I hope you’ll support the causes that are important to you — if it’s a choice between joining the Stock Gumshoe Irregulars and making a donation to your favorite charity, please do the latter, we love the support of our members and depend on the Irregulars, but no one at Gumshoe HQ is missing any meals).
We’re going to pick just a couple of these organizations to split the pot, and I need your help to choose which ones folks would rather see receive the money.
We’re collecting opinions through a Facebook Poll that you can see at the top of our Facebook page here. Whichever of these charities get the most votes will get our donations.
Here are our charitable candidates this time around:
Food Bank of Western MA — this is our local food bank here in Western Massachusetts, where the economy is pretty bleak and the need is high. I try to support them every year and will donate personally with or without this campaign.
Care — Primarily focused on fighting poverty around the world, this is also one of the reputable and established charities helping with Typhoon Haiyan relief
Direct Relief — a very efficient relief organization focused on health — also active in Typhoon Haiyan relief and a responder to the recent midwest Tornadoes.
Doctors without Borders — A well-known medical relief group that gets medical expertise and supplies to where it’s most needed, including the Philippines.
Homeward Vets — This is a very local group in my community, and a very recent start-up that impresses me — they are filling an important niche for homeless veterans (we have a big VA hospital here, so it’s a large population) by helping to acquire and coordinate donated furniture and supplies so that these homeless vets who are able to get housing vouchers or assistance or otherwise find their way into a home aren’t moving into an empty apartment with no funds or transportation to furnish it.
Yes, I’m certain that there’s at least one of these charities that you consider to be terrible or misguided in some way. Don’t vote for that one.
So that’s the story — will you help us to strengthen Stock Gumshoe for the year ahead, letting us put more into improving the site and sharing compelling commentary and ideas with you? If so, you can rest assured with the knowledge that you’re also helping a homeless veteran, a sick family in an impoverished land, a victim of natural disaster, a hungry neighbor.
I hope you’ll join us this year, if you haven’t already — and I hope you are experiencing a life full of blessings.
And of course, whether or not you choose to cough up some dough and join us or upgrade — I hope you’ll keep reading. We do love all of our readers, even those who give us only their attention. Thanks for making Stock Gumshoe a part of your investing life.
P.S. Thanks again for considering joining us as a paid Irregular (or upgrading to Platinum membership) during this charitable membership drive — we’ll tally up all membership payments between now and December 13 to figure out what the donation amount will be, and our Facebook poll deciding which charities to support will also be available until that date — please join and vote now if you can! And yes, if you don’t like using facebook you’re welcome to tell us your favorite among these five charities with a comment below.